Crosswalks and pedestrians are made for many people, especially for children to be able to walk to and from their destinations safely and independently. However, there are times when a place becomes more progressive and walkways are not always present to serve pedestrians. Moreover, parents primarily need to educate their children about the use of crosswalks and pedestrian lanes to avert possible accidents and injuries that may arise out of these accidents. Crosswalks are there to guide people where they could safely pass without endangering their safety. The absence of one in an area means that it’s not a proper place to cross a street from, otherwise, a person is greatly risking his or her life by taking chances. In this case, our informants will discuss the importance of using crosswalks and how the absence of this influence motorists and children’s decisions alike.
In June 2001, Anthony Carlo, the victim, was waiting to cross on Route 376 to get to the other side of the road when he was hit by a car. Prior to that, a witness, Denise Marinaccio, saw the boy on the knoll beside a telephone pole who looked like he was about to cross. In her testimony, Ms. Marinaccio testified that she was traveling Northbound on her way to the First Union Bank, just near the area where the boy was hit by a car. She noticed the boy just before she made a right turn to the bank and he was standing with a bicycle, although she couldn’t remember if the victim was riding the bicycle or was standing beside it. When she pulled up on a parking lot, she heard a car stop and when she looked, saw a woman rush to the boy and that Ms. Marinaccio was certain that the boy with a bicycle was hit. When asked to pinpoint where exactly was Anthony Carlo hit, she pointed it out and continued with her testimony.
The woman who hit Anthony Carlo was Jill Stevenson. In her testimony, she initially described that it was a good weather for driving and that she was with her daughter who was seated at the back of the car when the accident happened. She also stated that she was very familiar with the area since she coached a cheerleading team near the Recreational Center that was located only a few feet away from the car accident. She was asked to describe the area wherein she identified the location of the Recreational Center and the retail stores near the place. Ms. Stevenson stated that the boy was heading towards her who came out from near the bank parking lot. She stated that the boy came out of nowhere and was riding a bike when he crossed the street without looking up to see the incoming car. In addition, she disclosed that her speed limit was lower than 30 mph since she was familiar with the place, which could get busy at times. When she saw the boy hit the front right side of her vehicle, she immediately stopped. The absence of skid marks confirmed that she wasn’t going on a faster speed than usual. In addition, she was given a map to pinpoint where the boy got hit and she naturally pointed to the place, which was consistent with the first witness’ account.
When Ms. Stevenson was asked if she knew about a cross walk, she said that she was familiar with the place but wasn’t aware of any signs or crosswalks in the area. However, this is only because she always slowed down in that busy area and that she knew that there was a park entrance coming up from where she hit the boy, that’s why she states that whether or not there were signs, she would definitely slow down since she knew the area very well. After this, according to our information, the boy’s father, George Carlo, the Plaintiff, was called in to testify. In his statement, he mentioned that when the accident happened, he was at home and that earlier on, his wife, Julia, walked the other two children to the Recreation Center. The victim’s father also stated that his son has always crossed Route 376 and had always looked from both ways before doing so. Moreover, he said that the family has always used crosswalks and pedestrian lanes and that the children are very familiar with it. He also testified that their son was always instructed to use a crosswalk if there was any.
The parents of the victim, George and Julia Carlo, Plaintiffs, were seeking damages from the State of New York, the Defendant, for failing to provide a crosswalk in an otherwise busy area. They have argued that had the crosswalk been present, their son, Anthony wouldn’t have met an accident on his way home from the Recreation Center for a summer camp. When asked if they have ever attended public meetings regarding town complaints, neither of the two has, but stated that people have always used the area to walk to and from the Recreation Center. In January 2001, a meeting was held in town to discuss pedestrian safety but they were not present to voice out any of their concerns. The Carlos couple hasn’t written about any pedestrian hazard either, even if the area was close to where they lived and that a lot of people use it for walking. They asserted the State’s negligence for not putting up a crosswalk and neglecting that a dangerous condition is present in Route 376.
As outlined by our experts, several witnesses have been called to testify to prove whether the State was truly negligent or not. Jean Gunsch, was an employee of NY State Department of Transportation (DOT) who stated on her testimony that complaints made by the public were evaluated and if found substantial were responded to by their office. Ms. Gunsch was a Civil Engineer I who responded to grievances ranging from issues concerning replacement of traffic signals, reduction of speed limits as well as trimming grassy areas that could obstruct a driver’s sight. According to her, one of her duties may also be to recommend installation of crosswalks. After describing her job and a crosswalk’s function, she said that to recommend a crosswalk, a study must be made and that the pattern of pedestrians must be established, more than the number of traffic in the area. Moreover, a safe place for the crosswalks must be located, otherwise, if it were in a precarious position, it won’t really serve its purpose.
Furthermore, a letter of complaint was received by Ms. Gunsch that was signed by a certain William Horveth. The letter described a call for putting up signs on Route 376 indicating an intersection roadway. In addition, the letter contained information that there had been vehicular accident in that part of the road and that the bend from the Northbound lane made it difficult for motorists to anticipate traffic coming from the left side. This letter made Ms. Gunsch to visit the site of Mr. Horveth’s letter and thus recommended what Mr. Horveth wrote in the letter. However, she thought that the letter did not concern a crosswalk but instead, addressed a problem with vehicular traffic when there are events in the park. Moreover, the area being described by the sender was not near where the boy was hit by a car. Because of this, Ms. Gunsch did not make a study on pedestrian or bicycle safety. Ms. Gunsch even provided traffic and accident reports which happened in the area from a certain period but found nothing remarkable that would have helped install a crosswalk where the boy was hit.
Thomas Weiner, another witness for the Defendant, described his current work with the DOT and stated that he worked to gain information regarding public safety from meetings held in the town. He also produced a scanned copy of “Hopewell Hamlet Pedestrian” which was apparently a preliminary plan made for the vicinity but with the main objective of gathering input from townspeople. Moreover, Mr. Weiner had heard of a “guide” for the towns to follow in case there ever was a need to put up pedestrian lanes and crosswalks. He recalled that the meeting in January 2001 concerned pedestrians but could not remember if the meeting included the issue on crosswalks. According to Mr. Weiner, and as confirmed by our expert the State will be the one to decide over some of the roadways and locations that needed pedestrian lanes or crossways. This, according to him could take months since projects are done by priority and urgency. Also, backlogs in investigation of traffic and pedestrian complaints are very common and that determining whether to put up one of these lanes or not is very technical.
Mr. Idema, another witness also issued his statement confirming that there were no crosswalks in Route 376 and that the area does attract many pedestrians. Also, while he was town supervisor for Hopewell Junction, the Hopewell Pedestrian Plan was tackled. This is also the case in Manhattan and Long Island. He described the meeting and the things that were discussed during the time. He also recalled at least one participant in the discussion who brought up the need for a crosswalk for pedestrians. However, he did not recall if there ever was a plan or a separate discussion made for bicycles and other two-wheeled transportations. Only sign placement and speed reduction dominated the said meeting. Also, Mr. Idema never requested for a crosswalk in the area, since it was never perceived to be needed during the 10 years that he was supervisor.
Our source further revealed that witnesses to make statements for the Plaintiffs were also heard. Joseph Conte made a videotape of Route 376 near the Recreation Center and Lance Robson; the Plaintiffs’ expert explained the need for the crosswalk in that area. Mr. Robson reiterated that had a crosswalk been installed, Anthony Carlo would not have met an accident because children and any other normal people, for that matter, would naturally have used a crosswalk if there was one. According to him, he visited the site and discussed the hazards that the place comes with since it is a hill-like incline leading down to where the victim was hit and that the intersection is barely perceptible if you are new to the area. He cited that the area is most suitable for a crosswalk because it is near the Recreation center, the traffic is more manageable, the place has a better sight distance and that there are fewer driveways. Moreover, he suggested that warning signs must be put up for pedestrian crossing and that they should have been there at the time the Recreation center was built.
The Defendant further called in witnesses who saw the accident. The elderly brother and sister stated that Anthony came down from the grassy knoll without looking and he wasn’t going to stop. Furthermore, the kid did not put a helmet on when he was crossing the street on a bicycle. Moreover, the two stated that Anthony’s bike came in too fast for him to control and a car traveling slowly hit him and he flew a little and hit the pavement. According to the New York Vehicle and Traffic Law, bicyclists will be granted rights and duties similar to other vehicular drivers. Moreover, the laws states that bicyclists should drive along approved bicycle lanes and paths and if not provided, on the right shoulder or curb. In addition, when there are many of them in one single area, they must drive on a single path and that they must come to a full stop before entering any roadway.
Finally, the Plaintiffs’ experts’ observations were rebutted by the defense. They argued that it wouldn’t be safe to put a crosswalk where Anthony was hit because vehicles would naturally approach that area in a faster speed and that adjusting immediately to a lower speed would also endanger their safety. Also, there was no sidewalk in the area which would allow the pedestrians to walk from where they crossed. In short, it will be more difficult to walk from that area since there are no natural walkways for people. Last but not least, they stated that in teaching a child to cross the street, a parent must always and ultimately advice the child to look either way before crossing, which Anthony has failed to do. Therefore, negligence on his part was established.
During the course of the trial, the Plaintiffs’ were unable to prove that Anthony was not negligent in crossing the street. First, he wasn’t looking the right way and second, he wasn’t wearing safety measures. Moreover, since there was no crosswalk in the area, the place was not intended for crossing the street at all. On the other hand, they also failed to establish facts that the State, the Defendant, is liable and negligent in not providing a secure crosswalk near the place where Anthony Carlo was hit. While it’s true that they provided an expert on Mr. Robson, he neither had knowledge of the place or of building roadways and pedestrian lanes in the United States since he has worked in a foreign country for a long time. Moreover, to state that Anthony Carlo would not have been hit by a car without providing concrete and admissible evidences to support this, the Court finds that his statements are inadequate and that his observations were only based on assumptions. Therefore, the Court rules that the State is not liable for negligence.
Car accident and injury cases such as this are very common throughout the city. Moreover, children are prone to getting involved in cases such as these and in as much as parents are being careful enough to prevent their children from meeting unfortunate accidents, these events are entirely fortuitous. At Stephen Bilkis and Associates, our team of NY Injury Lawyers will guide you through the difficult process of proving your loved one’s innocence and claiming for damages against negligent parties. Do not think twice on hiring one of our New York Auto Accident attorneys from our team who will be able to provide you with professional legal assistance in these trying times. In addition to injury cases, we also assist people who have been wrongly accused of negligence by others who file lawsuits only for monetary gains. Protect your rights; call one of our offices now