Do Pedestrians Always Have the Right of Way in New York? Understanding the Basics


As pedestrians, we often assume we have the unconditional right of way when navigating New York’s streets and crosswalks. After all, common wisdom tells us that drivers should yield to foot traffic in virtually all situations. But what does New York law say about pedestrian right of way? Do pedestrians have the right of way in New York? Are there scenarios where walkers and joggers must yield to vehicles? Let’s take a closer look at the rules of the road as they pertain to pedestrian safety.

When Pedestrians Have the Right of Way

According to New York law, New York state law outlines several situations where drivers must yield to pedestrians:

  • At marked or unmarked crosswalks at intersections
  • When a pedestrian is on the sidewalk, and a driver is exiting an alley, building, driveway, or private road
  • When crossing at a steady “WALK” sign or walking person symbol at a pedestrian signal

In these scenarios, motorists must slow or stop as needed to let the pedestrian cross safely. This applies even at an unmarked crosswalk, which legally exists wherever a road intersects a sidewalk. Eye contact and clear body language from the pedestrian can help assert this right of way.

When Do Pedestrians Not Have the Right of Way?

However, there are limits on when and where pedestrians have the right of way. New York traffic safety law prohibits crossing the street in an unsafe manner, including:

  • Crossing an intersection diagonally without specific authorization
  • Crossing mid-block when adjacent intersections have working pedestrian traffic signals
  • Suddenly entering the road close to oncoming traffic that can’t yield in time
  • Walking in the roadway if a safe sidewalk is available

Pedestrians must exercise reasonable judgment about when it is safe to cross. That said, drivers always have a general duty to exercise “due care” to avoid hitting pedestrians, even when they disregard traffic rules. Parties may share liability if they both contributed to a pedestrian accident.

Damages Pedestrian Accident Victims Can Recover in New York

If a reckless driver strikes you while you are walking in New York, you have the right to pursue compensation for the harm you have suffered, such as:

  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • Lost income and reduced earning capacity
  • Pain, suffering, and emotional distress
  • Past, current, and future medical expenses
  • Permanent disability or disfigurement

Securing full and fair compensation after a severe pedestrian injury often requires working with an experienced injury lawyer. The costs can be substantial, so getting a comprehensive case evaluation early on is essential to the legal process.

Contact Our New York City Pedestrian Accident Lawyers for Help

After a pedestrian accident disrupts your life, you need an aggressive advocate in your corner to help you get the justice you deserve. Let the New York City pedestrian accident lawyers at Finz & Finz, P.C. put our 40+ years of experience to work for you.

Ready to learn more? Contact us today for a free case evaluation about how to seek compensation for injuries sustained in pedestrian accidents. Taking this first step allows you to focus on your physical recovery while we fight to protect your legal rights.