When dealing with a pedestrian knockdown case, defendants will often try to determine whether the plaintiff should bear any comparative negligence based on where the accident happened. According to New York State Vehicle and Traffic Law §1151(b), “[n]o pedestrian shall suddenly leave a curb or other place of safety and walk or run into the path of a vehicle which is so close that it is impractical for the driver to yield.” In most cases, if a pedestrian walks or runs into the middle of a street outside of a crosswalk, and he or she is struck by a vehicle, plaintiff may be assessed some comparative negligence.
In <a href="http://blog.wcmlaw.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/Bush-v-Kovacevic.pdf"><u><span style="color: #0066cc;">Bush v Kovacevic</span></u></a>, plaintiff was struck by defendant’s vehicle while crossing the street. The defendant driver testified that because she struck plaintiff on the passenger side of her car, the plaintiff must have been approximately two feet outside of the crosswalk. However, the Court explained that §1151(b) “by its plain terms, applies only where there are no traffic signals.” In this case, there was a traffic signal at the intersection, and the Court held that §1151 of the Vehicle and Traffic Law did not apply.
Defense counsel should always be mindful to consider whether a personal injury plaintiff may have been comparatively negligent in an effort to shift liability. In pedestrian knockdown cases, defendants must keep in mind that if the plaintiff is struck at an intersection with a traffic signal, the exact location of the accident will bear much less significance.
Thanks to Jeremy Seaman for his contribution to this post.