Dangerously Designed Roadways

Every once in a while a list of the deadliest roads appears. The most recent lists the deadliest roads for pedestrians in the New York City Metropolitan area, covering New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. All of the roads have similarities: 1) They are long, allowing drivers to build up speed; 2) They are lined with commercial stores, assuring increased pedestrian traffic; 3) They are wide, meaning it takes more time for a pedestrian to cross than a road with less lanes; and 4) They are mostly lacking median pedestrian islands where pedestrians can wait in safety before continuing on. If one is struck by a vehicle, the pedestrian can sue for the driver and owner of the vehicle for negligence. But, what if the cause of the incident is a dangerously designed roadway? Different roads are owned and/or operated by different entities such as the State, County, Town, etc. The government entity in charge of the road is entitled to a certain amount of discretion in designing a roadway, and is allowed to consider different highway designs. If a design study is undertaken, the government is immune from suit, if it follows the recommendations of the study. However, if the government entity performs a highway design study and finds that the road is unsafe, a lawsuit can be successfully prosecuted for failing to make the necessary safety changes. In the event that no studies were performed, a lawsuit can be prosecuted, though it would be helpful to show a pattern of prior accidents due to the design to prove both that the road was unsafe, and that there was notice of same. The owner of the road can also be sued for dangerous conditions on the road other than poor design. Such may include potholes, broken equipment (drains, signs, traffic lights, posts, etc.), which caused the accident. However, for the government to be sued for a negligent condition on a roadway one usually has to prove that the municipality had prior written notice of the defect, or created the condition. By the way, the deadliest road for pedestrians in the area is in Nassau County, with 12 fatalities in the years 2007 through 2009. Hempstead Turnpike is closely followed: by Broadway, Manhattan, NY; Burlington Pike, Burlington, NJ; Sunrise Highway, Suffolk County, NY; Atlantic Avenue, Brooklyn, NY; 7th Avenue, Manhattan, NY; and Henry Hudson Parkway, Manhattan, NY. If you have any questions or comments, please contact us. If you have a ideas for future blog posts let me know. – Marc Miner, Esq. Zalman & Schnurman is a New York law firm that concentrates in personal injury actions such as construction accidents, motor vehicle accidents, bicycle accidents, premises liability, trip and falls, slip and falls, snow and ice cases, medical malpractice, traumatic brain injuries, etc. Learn more at www.1800Lawline.com, or contact us at 1-800-LAWLINE, or 1-800-529-5463 New York City, Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens, Staten Island, Nassau County, Suffolk County, Westchester County, Rockland County. The information provided here is for informational purposes only and is not meant as legal advice or to cover all possible facts or factors. An attorney should be consulted to discuss specific facts and laws.

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