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New York City Bicycle Accidents On The Rise, With Severe Consequences For Pedestrians

September 29, 2014

The deaths of two pedestrians in Central Park over the past few months, both hit by bicyclists, has cast a dark shadow over one of the most popular recreational roads in the world. Our New York City bicycle accident lawyers have handled numerous cases of bicyclists injured in car and truck accidents,

On September 18, 2014 a married mother of two was fatally struck by a 31-year-old Jason Marshall, a bicyclist, apparently traveling in excess of the 25 mph speed limit in Central Park. When Marshall swerved to avoid a group of pedestrians, he allegedly screamed “Get out of the way!” before colliding with Jill Tarlov, 59, the victim. Shortly after arriving at New York Presbyterian Hospital/Cornell Medical Center, doctors pronounced Ms. Tarlov brain dead. Three days later she died. Mr. Marshall, admitted during questioning that he was in the car lane, not the bike lane, when he struck Ms. Tarlov, although it is unclear who had the right of way at the time, however, motorists and bicyclists always have a responsibility to keep a proper lookout and avoid colliding with pedestrians and other bicyclists.

This was the second well-publicized death involving bicyclists in Central Park over the last few months. On August 3 of this year, a 17-year-old cyclist struck 75-year-old Irving Schacter, who was jogging near 72nd Street on the east park loop. After suffering head trauma, Mr. Schacter was taken to New York Presbyterian Hospital and was dead within two days.

Mr. Marshall stated that the accident was “unavoidable.” In personal injury law, whether or not an injury is foreseeable is a key element for any negligence claim. Of course, Mr. Marshall’s assertion that the accident itself was unavoidable does not mean that the consequences of the accident were equally unavoidable. Also, whehter something was unavoidable is often a question for a jury, notwithstanding a defendants self serving assertions, especially where the accident’s unavoidability was caused by the defendant’s acting irresponsibly in the first place. It seems clear that any person operating a bicycle in a heavily-trafficked area, should do so with care so as to lessen the harm of any possible accident, even if the accident itself is unavoidable. According to the New York Times, the NYPD has already issued over 450 moving violations to bicyclists so far this year. In 2014, only 151 summonses were issued.

While some of the tabloid newspapers would have you believe that New York roads are run by overzealous bicyclists, in reality bicyclists, too, are at great risk on the New York City roads. Most bicycle-related accidents in New York involve some sort of contact with a motor vehicle that makes an unexpected left turn in the bicycle lane or fails to yield the right-of-way and share the road, thus forcing cyclists into a collision off the road. But other factors come into play, such as defective roads, poor maintenance, impaired visibility, debris, even parked cars opening their doors in the bicyclists’ path.

Furthermore, juries are sympathetic to bicyclists, and recent settlements include a $8.57 million verdict for a 36-year old bicyclist who was injured after being hit by a bus; $5,5 million on behalf of a bicyclist struck by a NYPD car (which was pursuing him); and $5,000,000 for the widow of a doctor who was hit and killed by a NYPD tow truck.

Ultimately, however all people on the road have a duty observe the New York State Vehicle and Traffic Laws.

The Law Offices of Michael H. Joseph