Pedestrian Deaths on the Rise

Although the number of traffic deaths had been falling since the late 1960s, a change attributed to lower speed limits, vehicle improvements, and drunk driving declines, the New York Times recently reported that these deaths have been on the rise across the country during the Covid-19 pandemic. Experts were surprised; they had anticipated a decline due to largely empty roads. However, the pandemic increased frustration and anger, which in turn triggered aggressive driving, and this aggression continued later in the pandemic when more people began driving again.

According to analysis of federal data, per capita vehicle deaths rose 17.5% between the summer of 2019 to the summer of 2020, the largest two year increase since immediately following World War II. In one instance, a man was killed by a driver who had run a red light while he was crossing the street with his family after attending a holiday lights display.

A cognitive scientist commented to the Times that the aggressive behavior could be attributed to dissipation of angry energy by pressing harder on the accelerator. The Department of Transportation also reported that the proportion of drivers who tested positive for opioids doubled after mid-March in 2020 when mitigation of the pandemic started, and positive tests for marijuana increased by around 50%.

Pedestrians were particularly impacted by the aggressive driving, with pedestrian deaths rising in a particularly sharp way. When a family’s loved one is killed in a pedestrian accident caused by neglect or misconduct, it may be possible to pursue damages in a wrongful death lawsuit. In order to establish negligence, we’ll need to show it’s more likely than not: (1) the decedent was owed a reasonable duty of care, (2) breach of the duty of reasonable care, (3) causation, and (4) damages. For example, a jury would be likely to find that a driver who ran a red light and killed a pedestrian breached the duty to use reasonable care to avoid injuring others that all drivers owe to others with whom they share the road. Similarly, if a pedestrian had the right of way at a crosswalk, and a driver failed to yield, a jury would likely find that the driver breached the duty to use reasonable care.

Damages that may be recovered in New York include all pecuniary losses. These may consist of:

  • Funeral and burial expenses,
  • Medical bills incurred in connection with the final injury,
  • Lost inheritance,
  • Lost financial support,
  • Value of parental nurturing to surviving children,
  • Value of support and services a decedent would have provided to the family,
  • Conscious pain and suffering felt by the decedent because of the final injury.

When a pedestrian fatality is the result of drunk or drugged driving, it may be appropriate to seek punitive damages, which are damages intended to punish and deter wrongdoing.

If your loved one was killed in a pedestrian accident in White Plains or surrounding areas, you are likely dealing with significant grief, but you may also have practical concerns related to your finances. You may have legal recourse against an at-fault driver. You should call our principal, Mark Siesel, a tough, seasoned White Plains car accident lawyer. Due to original experience representing defendants until the mid-1990s, and for the last 25 years representing injured victims of accidents, he understands how insurance companies think and defend lawsuits. This gives him a significant advantage over most attorneys. He represents families of accident victims in Brooklyn, Bronx, and Queens, along with Westchester, Putnam, Kings, Orange, Dutchess, Sullivan, Rockland, Bronx, and Ulster Counties. Call him at (914) 428-7386 or complete this online form.