Articles Posted in Car Accidents

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August 30, 2016 was a deadly night in Queens and the Bronx.  A tragic collision occurred on the Long Island Expressway in Queens.  According to the New York Post, the multiple fatality and multiple vehicle collision may have been caused by drag racing.  See article here.  Meanwhile, in the Bronx, a pedestrian was killed after being struck by two vehicles while crossing Bronxdale Avenue at the intersection of Bronxdale Avenue and Barnes Avenue.  The first of the two vehicles to strike the pedestrian fled the scene.  See article here.  Unfortunately, all too often in collisions like this there is inadequate insurance to compensate the injured victims and the families of the decedents.  In New York State, the minimum insurance required is $25,000 per person and $50,000 per incident.  If you own an automobile check with your insurance carrier to find out about Supplemental Uninsured Motorist coverage to protect your interests in the event you are in a collision with a vehicle that has inadequate coverage.

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Tesla Logo
As an attorney representing car accident victims quite often, the recent news of two Tesla vehicles that crashed while in self-driving or autonomous driving mode raised a lot of questions.  From the attorney perspective, we are taught to evaluate an accident applying two major elements.  The first element is negligence, a two prong question.  First, d id the operator of a motor vehicle, operate his or her car in a way that was unreasonable under the circumstances.  The failure to operate your car in a reasonable manner is the first element of negligence.  The second element is proving that that failure, was a substantial factor or proximate cause of the accident.  The lines are blurred when we consider modern technology.  We must now consider whether the vehicle itself was negligent.

Tesla advises all of its owners that it’s autopilot feature DOES NOT mean that the vehicle is operating itself.  However, all marketing and news stories are describing the benefits of placing the car in autopilot mode and allowing the car and its sensors to sense the road and vehicles and obstructions around it.  Given this dichotomy, one must ask if the warning given is sufficient to free Tesla of any responsibility.

Joshua Brown’s death was the first reported death while operating a vehicle in autopilot mode.  This month, his vehicle collided with an 18 wheeler when the autopilot feature and the surrounding sun glare did not allow the vehicle’s autopilot features to react in a reasonable and timely manner.  The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating this accident with a focus on fault of the vehicle’s autopilot features.

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Earlier today, a crane collapsed across the span of the Tappan Zee Bridge resulting in injuries to at least three people as they swerved to avoid fallen debris. The crane collapse has caused a shutdown of the outdated and structurally insufficient bridge wreaking havoc on traffic in the area. The bridge is closed indefinitely.

The crane was being used in the construction efforts of a new Tappan Zee Bridge. The construction project, a $4 billion endeavor, has already seen several other major incidents resulting in deaths. In March, a 90-foot tugboat sank after it hit a construction barge near the bridge site, killing three crew members. In 2013, a powerboat plowed into a construction barge at the bridge, killing a bride-to-be and her fiancé’s best man.

There has been no shortage in crane accidents in the recent past, and despite the high stakes of these construction projects and the obvious need for safety, these accidents continue to happen. The engineers and contractors who are responsible for the placement, operation, management, inspection and control of these cranes must uphold their duty to ensure that these types of accidents don’t occur.

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On July 18, 2016 at 7:35 A.M., two NJ Transit Buses crashed causing injuries to no less than 15 people. The accident occurred in the Manhattan-bound tube of the Lincoln Tunnel. Both buses were filled with commuters bound for the New York Port Authority.

Commuters were incensed with NJ Transit and took to social media to voice their outrage as the avoidable accident injured many people and caused long residual delays.

Attorneys from Leav & Steinberg specialize in litigating claims following accidents that were caused by the negligence of others. In the past we successfully resolved a case that involved a multiple bus accident that occurred in the Lincoln Tunnel. The plaintiff in that action was a bus passenger who suffered a laceration to his chin and injuries to his jaw.

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Court Image
The Second Circuit of the United States Court of Appeals held that General Motors failed to properly disclose its knowledge of ignition switch defects and accordingly it will now have to face many lawsuits for injuries and other damages, that were once dismissed as part of its bankruptcy filing.

In 2009 General Motors declared bankruptcy.  In doing so, it sought to take any of its viable assets and in an organized sale, transfer them to a new entity now known as “new GM”.  When a company files for bankruptcy they must disclose claims known or likely to be known.  The reason is that when bankruptcy is granted, all debts known or likely to be known are wiped out and the company gets to move forward as a new “reorganized” entity.

Though GM was near financial collapse and the Court did want to maintain a company with thousands of employees, they are not above the law.  The safety of many was at risk and many injuries and deaths had occurred due to defective ignition switches which had caused movement stalls and air-bag non-deployment.  The cause was simple: the poorly improperly designed  ignition switch could slip from the run position and therefore cause many features to fail while in operation.

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A fire truck and a New York City Transit Bus collided on Sunday in queens seriously injuring 14 people.

The fire engine was headed to assist with a fire with its emergency lights on when it was struck by a Q100 MTA bus in the Ditmars Blvd. and 21st St. intersection in Astoria at 12:20 p.m..   Police department and EMS arrived on the scene quickly.

Under the law of New York, an emergency vehicle may operate its vehicle when responding to an emergency.  This is covered by Section 1104 of the Vehicle and Traffic Law.  However, in order to be protected by this statute the emergency vehicle must still not act with reckless disregard for the safety of others.

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Court House
When I first started this firm over 17 years ago, often the first decision I or my associates had to make when taking on a matter is where would we bring or start the action.  The first thing to consider is jurisdiction.  Jurisdiction essentially means the ability for a Court in the State of New York to hear the action.  Though this can be discussed in great length, if we take a car accident for example, the Courts of the State of New York always have jurisdiction as if you drive a car in NY and get into an accident you have subjected yourself to being sued in New York.  The next and sometimes more important question is where within the New York Court system can you venue the case.

Venue is a choice of which county the case can be brought and is controlled by  CPLR Section 503.

Under the venue provisions one may bring a lawsuit in a county in which they are a resident, the defendant is a resident, or if a corporation, where the corporation principal executive office is.  Again if we focus on the car accident arena for this article, you can look to the residence for the parties and choose.  If suing a municipality like the City of New York or any City agency you must venue the case in the county in which the accident occurred.  If all parties are not from any County in New York but the accident occurs in New York, the Plaintiff may choose any county he or she wishes.

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Under most automobile insurance policies, there is coverage for Uninsured or Underinsurance Coverage.  What this means is that if you are in a car accident and the car that is responsible for the accident is uninsured (unknown or carrying no insurance) or underinsured (has less insurance than you carry) you can seek to recover benefits for pain and suffering from your own automobile insurance policy.  Learn more about this coverage in New York with a New York State Bar Assocation memo. 

A sample of where this coverage is on your policy:

SUM template
Sadly, the responsibility of the insurance company to fairly and fully compensate its own insured is almost arbitrary and lacks any ability to hold the carrier responsible for acting in bad faith if they do not negotiate fairly.

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Spine
One of the most common injuries sustained by those involved in an accident is a back or neck injury.  Many consider these “soft tissue” injuries and the term has been used by insurance companies to diminish the significance of the injury.

In fact, a disc injury which is really a connective tissue injury can be more debilitating and significant than a fracture to a bone.  A fracture can often heal and or calcify.  A disc injury to the spine will never return to the anatomic design it was in before the trauma.

Simply put a herniated disc is a rupture to the intervertebral discs that separate the vertebrae running from the base of our skull to our coccyx or sacrum.  In all we have 33 discs and they act as shock absorbers for the body.  They allow the spine to move, bend, function in a normal way.

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Leav & Steinberg attorney Edward Averbuch obtained a $250,000 jury verdict in Kings County for a client who suffered a herniated disc and lumbar radiculopathy in a motor vehicle accident. The verdict came after the conclusion of a four-day trial where defendants called two medical experts and claimed our client’s injury was degenerative in nature and less severe than his treating physician diagnosed. The defendant’s last settlement offer before the verdict was $10,000.

Under New York No-Fault Law § 5102 in order to recover for personal injuries as a result of an auto accident a plaintiff must prove that he or she sustained a serious injury. No-Fault Law § 5102 defines a “serious injury” as a personal injury which results in:

1. death;