Articles Posted in Car Accidents

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On February 27, 2015, at 4:00AM, a vehicle traveling in the wrong direction on Sprain Brook Parkway, between Route 100 B and the Heatherdell Road overpass in Greenburgh, Westchester County, violently collided head-on with a vehicle that was traveling the in the right direction on that roadway.

The impact was so heavy, that it propelled the vehicle over the highway’s guardrail, pinning the driver inside his vehicle. The first responders who arrived at the scene had to use the jaws of life to cut the vehicle to reach the driver to administer medical attention. The accident resulted in the driver’s death.

During their investigation, the police officers noticed a strong smell of alcohol coming from the driver of the vehicle that was traveling in the wrong direction, as well as drugs inside of his vehicle.

Several witnesses at the scene told the police officers the vehicle was traveling the wrong way for several miles on the roadway. One witness said she had to swerve out of the way of this vehicle, and if she had not, he would have collided with her vehicle. The police officers were already on their way after receipt of several phone calls at to the wrong way vehicle on the roadway at the time of the accident.

NYPD detective dead after car crash with wrong way driver

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On February 11, 2015, a black-car driver, while approaching a stopped vehicle in front of him on the West Side Highway in Manhattan, rammed his car into the back of that vehicle, causing his car to veer to the left and smash into the metal posts that divide the road. The driver failed to reduce the speed of his car, failed to maintain a safe distance between the front of his car and the rear of the vehicle stopped in front of him and completely failed to depress the brakes at any time before the accident to attempt to stop his vehicle. The accident resulted in the death of the back seat passenger, Bob Simon, who was rushed that evening to the hospital with devastating head/neck injuries. Since the happening of the accident, it was revealed the driver had his license suspended nine times, the driver’s dispatch received emails from other passengers complaining about his driving and the driver’s superiors received complaints from his fellow co-workers who reported his erratic driving just days before the fatal accident. The black-car was equipped with an event data recorder that will be crucial to piece together the events leading up to the accident. The driver claims he was struck by an unknown vehicle that caused him to black out and lose control of the cab. However, witnesses at the scene of the accident, stated this is not so, but that the driver slammed on the gas pedal and accelerated his vehicle causing it to ram into the rear of the stopped vehicle in front of him. The driver never depressed on the brake pedal at any time before the crash. It is important to demand and send out immediate requests to preserve all event data recorders from any car accident–particularly so with livery cabs and/or medallion taxis which now come equipped with the devices.

Post: Co-worker warned limo boss about Bob Simon’s “erratic” driver

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In the morning of February 13, 2015, at about 8:45AM, a 15-year old girl was walking across Grand Street when she was struck by a MTA bus. The girl was walking across the street with the pedestrian light in her favor within the crosswalk, when the Q59 attempted a left turn onto Grand Street, causing the bus to pin the girl under its left front wheel. The accident happened at or near southbound Union Avenue and Grand Street in Brooklyn, New York. The MTA bus driver was arrested, charged with violation of highway law and issued various appearance tickets after the accident. The MTA bus failed to yield the right of way to a pedestrian who was within the crosswalk, and walking across the street with the signal in her favor. The MTA bus should have waited before even attempting the left turn, until the crosswalk was free and clear of pedestrians. There were several witnesses to the accident. The girl suffered severe injuries to her leg, which was shattered from the impact with the bus. She was removed from the scene and transported to the emergency room of Bellevue Hospital.

Resources:
http://m.nydailynews.com/new-york/brooklyn/girl-15-pinned-wheel-brooklyn-city-bus-article-1.2114179

http://nypost.com/2015/02/13/teen-survives-getting-run-over-by-mta-bus/

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On the evening of Tuesday, February 3, 2015, a Metro North train collided with an SUV that was stopped on the tracks near Valhalla station. As a result of this tragic accident, the driver of the SUV and five passengers on the train were killed. There were also numerous injuries to other passengers.

While investigators haven’t answered many questions about the crash. Their initial findings are shedding some light on what could have played a role in causing this accident.

Initially it appears that the driver of the SUV was in traffic that was inching toward the crossing, and when the warning lights came on and the crossing gates came down, the driver’s car was within the gates. One of the gates hit the driver’s vehicle, who subsequently got out of her vehicle to check for damage. Seemingly unhurried, the driver got back in the car and proceeded further onto the tracks.

Data recorders show the Metro-North Railroad train’s engineer hit the emergency brakes and sounded the horn as the train approached the Valhalla crossing. The train was traveling 58 mph in a 60 mph zone. Flashing warning lights at the crossing illuminated 39 seconds before the crash, and the gates came down a few seconds later according to NTSB officials. That would leave about 30 seconds that the SUV was inside the gates. An investigation is still ongoing as to when the train’s engineer hit the emergency brakes.

It has also come to the attention of certain officials that there could be more at play than human error at the time of the accident. State transportation officials planned five years ago to install more flashing warning lights at the train crossing, but inexplicably never did so.

In addition to safety upgrades implemented at the Valhalla crossing, in 2009, it was intended to add a third set of lights on the curving road leading up to it, to give drivers a few more seconds’ notice of an approaching train. The approved budget of $128,000 was taken off the table last year.

Further, investigators had never seen a third-rail configuration resulting in such devastation. 400 feet of electrified third-rail snapped into 39-foot pieces and punched through the SUV and into the cabin of the commuter train. Now officials want to know whether the rail’s unusual design explains why the crash was so uncommonly deadly.

The pieces went through the first car of the train “like daggers going into the heart of that chamber,” Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., said Friday after getting a look at the blackened, mangled wreckage.

“This has never happened before, and this is a rare configuration of a third rail. Do those two add up to the explanation for this terrible, terrible tragedy? Very possibly,” Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., said, calling the design “a real concern.”

This is not the first major problem Metro-North has had as of late. We have previously discussed the tragic derailment that occurred at the Spuyten Duyvil Station in December of 2013. Metro-North has also had other issues when two commuter trains smashed into each other during the evening rush hour in Connecticut in May of 2013. We have written generally about what to do if you are involved in an accident. Cases involving a municipality like Metro-North have special deadlines and prerequisites, some of which are so strict and inflexible that if they are not met, a claim may be forfeited forever. It is critical to seek legal counsel early on to protect a potential claim.

Sources http://nypost.com/2015/02/06/additional-warning-lights-were-planned-but-never-installed-at-site-of-fatal-wreck/

http://7online.com/news/ntsb-metro-north-thank-first-responders-call-wreck-terrible-tragedy/503064/

http://news.yahoo.com/suv-ended-tracks-center-probe-deadly-crash-070159272.html

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Traffic Rules and Regulations of the City of New York §4-03(a)(1)(i) provides “…vehicles turning right or left, shall yield the right of way to other vehicles and to pedestrians lawfully within the intersection or an adjacent crosswalk…” Many times, motorists make left turns onto a roadway without looking and seeing whether there are approaching vehicles, bicyclists or pedestrians entering the intersection, causing serious accidents.

The Appellate Division, Second Department is often faced with cases involving pedestrians or bicyclists struck by motor vehicles. Recently, just this year, the Appellate Division decided France Herly Bien-Aime v. Clare, —N.Y.S.2d—, 2015 NY Slip Op 00713 (2nd Dept., 1-28-2015) and Tsang v. New York City Transit Authority, —N.Y.S.2d—, 2015 NY Slip Op 00875 (2nd Dept., 2-4-2015)

In France, supra, the plaintiff was a pedestrian struck by a vehicle driven by the defendant as she walked across Bedford Avenue, at its intersection with Parkside Avenue, in Brooklyn. The plaintiff testified she stopped at the intersection before stepping onto the street. During that time, she observed traffic and saw the pedestrian “WALK” signal in her favor before entering the street and crossing over Bedford Avenue within the marked crosswalk. She testified she was more than halfway across the street, closer to the other side and still within the crosswalk, when she was struck on the right side by the defendant’s vehicle as it made a left turn into the intersection causing her to fall. The France Court found, based on plaintiff’s testimony, that she entered the intersection after exercising due care. The defendant motorist testified he did not remember looking for any pedestrians crossing the street when he was stopped on Parkside Avenue before making the left turn onto Bedford Avenue. He also testified he did not see the plaintiff pedestrian at any time before the accident, until he saw her on top of his vehicle’s hood, even though there was nothing obstructing his view of the roadway. The France Court granted plaintiff’s motion for summary judgment on the issue of liability and found the defendant failed to raise a triable issue of fact as to whether the plaintiff pedestrian was comparatively at fault for the happening of the accident.

In Tsang, supra, the plaintiff was a pedestrian struck by a New York City Transit Authority bus as she walked across Bath Avenue at its intersection with 25th Avenue, in Brooklyn. The plaintiff presented evidence the bus driver failed to yield the right of way to them, while they were crossing the street within the crosswalk with the pedestrian crossing signal in their favor. The Tsang Court found the evidence showed the pedestrians looked both ways before entering the crosswalk and during the course of crossing the street, and that they were hit from behind by the bus when they were approximately three quarters of the way across the street. The Tsang Court granted plaintiffs’ motion for summary judgment on the issue of liability and found the defendant failed to raise a triable issue of fact as to whether the plaintiffs were comparatively at fault in the happening of the accident.

Pedestrians and bicyclists face enormous dangers on the road. To ensure safety, it is important for pedestrians or bicyclists to look in all directions before proceeding through an intersection to ensure there are no approaching vehicles so close as to constitute a danger. Motorists are duty bound to see what with reasonable use of their senses can be seen on the roadway, particularly so when there are no obstructions in front of them.

If you or someone you love has suffered a serious injury in an automobile accident, you should contact the New York personal injury attorneys at Leav & Steinberg, LLP.

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One of a personal injury attorney’s most important tasks is to protect clients. Two major parts of that involve ensuring clients have the best case possible under the law and protecting their privacy. Our last blog was about how injury attorneys can fortify a case with information from vehicle event data recorders. We linked to the New York law about the disclosure of the information recorded by event data records, such as speed, location, and brake performance. That type of activity recording raises privacy concerns, but that comes with the injury case territory.

Another privacy issue arises from a similar recording device, the license plate recorder. License plate recorders are cameras that may be mounted on things like police cars, tow trucks, traffic signs, and bridges and they have the potential to track each and every location an individual has driven. The ACLU has called for more legal restriction on the information obtained by these devices based on rights contained in the Fourth Amendment, in part because private companies are disclosing information with little to no oversight. Some states have already passed laws on the retention of the information collected from these cameras.

New recording devices raise new issues; as technology evolves, so does the law. But personal injury attorneys have been dealing with countless privacy issues since the start. Most commonly we deal with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, also known as HIPAA law. The law says injury attorneys have to turn over certain medical records and authorizations releasing medical records directly from healthcare providers to the attorneys whose job is to defend the case. A proper HIPAA authorization is always required to release medical records, but generally speaking only records related to the body parts injured in the accident need to be turned over. In Gumbs v. Flushing Town Center III, L.P., 1114 A.D.3d 573, 981 N.Y.S.2d 394 (1st Dept. 2014), the Appellate Division affirmed the decision of the Honorable Laura Douglas to protect the plaintiff from providing authorizations to the defendants relating to some of his own medical records. His case was related to injuries sustained to his shoulder and ankle. The defendants were seeking records from his cardiologist and primary care physician. The defendants claimed the records were related to the plaintiff’s ability to work and his life expectancy.

New HIPAA-related issues were created by electronic filing. Although putting bulky legal files into electronic form has its benefits, it also allows anyone who is capable of setting up an account to have easy access to a complete stranger’s medical records. The state court rules and the federal court rules both require redaction of the month and date of an individual’s date of birth and all but four digits of a social security number, among other things.

Another privacy issue, though one which has been litigated in relative detail at this stage, is disclosure of family members’ records in toxic tort cases, such as those involving lead paint. Some common demands made by defense counsel when faced with claims of an infant who was exposed to lead paint in their apartment are for the mother’s medical, pharmaceutical, and academic records. Another common demand is for the medical records of the siblings. In Vazquez v. New York City Hous. Auth., 79 A.D.3d 623, 914 N.Y.S.2d 127 (1st Dept. 2010), a young individual was exposed to a lead paint condition which exacerbated his pervasive developmental disorder. The defendant wanted to see the medical and academic records of the siblings, who were not involved in the lawsuit. The courts found that there was nothing more than speculation to support the notion that the siblings’ mental condition had any bearing on the plaintiff’s condition and denied the request.

The common thread among these issues is that privacy, confidentiality, and privilege are still being protected while technology is helping us do what we need to do in a different way. It will be interesting to see how, as technology evolves, the law draws a line to balance competing interests.

Resources:

The Legal Examiner, Is Privacy Jeopardized by LPRs? by Steven J. Klearman, 01.08.15

ACLU, You Are Being Tracked: How License Plate Readers Are Being Used To Record Americans’ Movements

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You get a new case call to your office. The prospective client tells you that they were traveling on a road with the right of way when a car traveling in the opposite direction seemed to speed up and then made a sudden left turn in front of them. Prior to turning the other car seemed so far away. You get the police report and the offending vehicle says it was fully stopped and when safe to enter began its turn when the collision occurred. Sure the turning car should yield to your client. But you want the smoking gun, the evidence to prove they are being less than truthful.

That time has come.

In 2012 Congress passed Senate Bill 1813, Section 31406 which mandates that all cars sold in the United States starting in 2015 be equipped with Event Data Recorders.
The EDR as it is called will capable of recording vehicle speed, engine speed (RPM). Better yet they record data for usually 5 seconds prior to an event.

Such evidence if properly preserved and studied can prove with certainty that the offending car turning left had not stopped as they claimed but rather had tried to speed up and rush through the turn prior to the light changing and failing to yield the right of way to your client. This can help you get your client the full and complete damages that they are entitled to.

The firm of Leav & Steinberg, LLP has been representing car accident victims who suffer serious injuries. Just last year Daniel T. Leav went to trial on a matter of a young woman who was seriously injured in an accident involving the same facts as above. Through our investigation and use of technology we were able to obtain a $750,000.00 award for the client.

See also:
New York Vehicle and Traffic Code § 416-b

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Bridges are ubiquitous in New York City. To get from Manhattan Island, Staten Island, or Long Island to each other or the main continent requires a bridge or a tunnel. And most of those bridges are for car travel. And cars get into accidents. Recently the Tappan Zee Bridge was the sight of a major accident that resulted in a death.

The Accident

On July 23, 2013, an S.U.V. caused an accident on the Tappan Zee Bridge. The S.U.V. was traveling south in the northbound lane just before 9 p.m. The S.U.V. crashed into a Nissan, which rolled over multiple times. A third vehicle avoided the S.U.V. and the Nissan, but was hit from behind by a fourth vehicle. A fifth vehicle sideswiped the S.U.V. before the traffic was brought to a standstill. The passenger in the Nissan was pronounced dead on the scene. Four others were injured and taken to local hospitals. Traffic was snarled for hours.

The New York Times reported “onlookers stunned by the sight of a car traveling the wrong way on the busy crossing immediately took to Twitter to describe both the crash and the resulting traffic jam.” Some witnesses, who encountered the S.U.V. before the crash, pulled off the road and called 911. Witnesses said the S.U.V. was speeding up the ramp and onto the bridge. One witness said, “he had his lights on and he was beeping at me and I could not believe what I was seeing.”

Bridge.jpg

Police are still investigating exactly what happened to lead up to the crash. The day after the crash, state police released a statement that the driver of the S.U.V. had medical issues and had an anxiety attack just prior to heading onto the Tappan Zee Bridge.

Safety Features

While automobile safety measures have come leaps and bounds since the first Model A rolled off Henry Ford’s assembly line, accidents happen. Some common safety features on all cars are seatbelts, airbags, laminated windshields, crumple zones, and side impact protection beams.

Seatbelts prevent people from being ejected from their car in an accident. Air bags inflate in a crash to cushion the occupant during impact. Most cars have airbags in the steering column and the dashboard of the front passenger seat. There are car models with side airbags as well. Laminated windshields shatter, but remain in one piece. “Crumple zones absorb and dissipate the force of a collision, displacing and diverting it away from the passenger compartment.” Side impact protection beams absorb crash energy to protect passengers when a car is hit side-on.

Even with all of these safety measures, a driver must still be aware of what is going on around them at all times. Injuries can be more severe if a car’s safety measure do not deploy properly. With more technology, there are more distractions on the road today. Phone conversations and texting while driving are common causes of car accidents these days.

If you are in a car accident, whether it is the fault of someone else or due to a defect in your car, contact our knowledgeable attorneys to assure that your rights are protected.

Photo Credit: Kıvanç Niş via Compfight cc

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Exploding cars are de rigueur in action movies. But in real life, it is pretty scary. Think about the Ford Pinto and one pictures exploding gas tanks. This was used to great comic effect in the movie “Top Secret,” a parody of WWII spy movies. But there have been “32 rear-impact collisions that caused fatal fires resulting in 44 deaths in Grand Cherokees, and five accidents that resulted in seven deaths in Jeep Libertys” according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

The Investigation

On August 23, 2010, NHTSA opened an investigation into possible fuel tank explosions during rear-end collision and impacts. This investigation covered Jeep Grand Cherokees for model years 1993 to 2004, Jeep Cherokees for model years 1993 to 2001, and Jeep Libertys for model years 2002 to 2007. This investigation started as a safety defect investigation, but was upgraded to an engineering analysis to determine if the “vehicles contain a defect that presents an unreasonable risk to safety.” NHTSA said the design of the vehicle with “the location of the gas tanks behind the rear axle of the Jeeps could make them more vulnerable to being ruptured in an accident.”

By the end of this investigation, NHTSA recommended that Chrysler issue the recall and listed the Jeep Grand Cherokee and Jeep Liberty as defective vehicles.

But Chrysler refused to issue the recall on June 4, 2013. “Chrysler said it did not agree that the vehicles, among its most profitable models, were unsafe, adding that fire-related accidents involving the vehicles were rare and not related to a defective design.”

After discussions between Chrysler’s chief executive and the head of NHTSA, Chrysler agreed to the voluntary recall. Chrysler agreed to “put trailer hitches on some older-model Jeeps to protect them in the event of rear-end accidents.” This was in exchange for NHTSA to stop describing these models as defective.

Will this recall affect Chrysler’s bottom line?

As noted, the fix here is adding a trailer hitch, which puts more space between an impacting car and the gas tank. These parts do not have to be specifically manufactured. The parts can be pulled from a bin and “installed for a little more than $150 per vehicle retail, with labor.” Automotive News commentator Larry P. Vellequette figures that “Chrysler’s total exposure is maybe $120 million to $150 million.” While this is not an insignificant amount of money, it is still less than a year’s worth of profits for Chrysler.

Does a mandatory versus voluntary recall make a difference in safety?

According to NHTSA, over the past decade there has been, on average, 600 vehicle recalls, 20 tire recalls, and 8 child restraint recalls per year. In 2011, the most recent data available, that amounted to 15.5 million individual recalls. That is a lot of recall notices, so much so that a citizen can subscribe to receive email notifications from HNTSA for their make and model year of car. Registered owners of the Jeep models included in this recall should receive a notice about the recall and what to do to have repairs done.

If you have been injured as a result of a defective automobile, contact our personal injury attorney to help protect your rights.

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First Responders Delayed By Human Error

Being Chauffeured by Rosie the Robot

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9-1-1. It is commonly the first phone number parents teach their children. It “is the emergency telephone number for the North American Numbering Plan.” And with this dedicated number, we have expectations of extremely rapid service when we call 911. But sometimes human error can delay first responders.

History of 911

The push for the development of a nationwide American emergency telephone number came “in 1957 when the National Association of Fire Chiefs recommended that a single number be used for reporting fires.” This became the national emergency number in 1968 for callers to access police, fire and ambulance services. While 911 may have been established in 1968, it was not until well into 1980s that most municipalities established 911 service.

The 911 system has an address database that connects an incoming phone number to the assigned address. This allows emergency personnel to locate emergencies when the caller is unable to give a street address.

911 Problems

Even with this established emergency phone number to contact help quickly, problems can occur. As noted, the 911 system was not established in most municipalities until the late 1980s. This meant that individual communities had different standard seven-digit emergency numbers, as opposed to the simple three-digit 911. If you were visiting an area without 911 service, it would be necessary to know the specific seven-digit emergency number.

With the advent of cell phones, which are designed to be mobile, finding a person’s location was only possible if the person calling could tell the emergency operator where they were. There is an FCC rule that requires all phones to be GPS-capable to aid first responders in pinpointing accident locations. And updated systems are being put into place, like in New York City.

New York City 911

There have been a few glitches in the new NYC 911 system. “In recent weeks, just as the new $88 million dispatch relay system is coming online, emergency operators in New York City have been forced on multiple occasions to resort to using pen and paper to record 911 calls and dispatch emergency workers after their computer system went dark.”

Human Error

Even with these computer glitches, first responders got to their destinations quickly. The latest problem however is being blamed on human error. A young girl was struck by a sport utility vehicle (SUV) while on the sidewalk. An unlicensed teenager was driving the SUV, trying to flee from police. The young girl suffered extensive injuries. The emergency call was answered and forwarded to emergency medical workers, but then no one saw the call for four minutes. “Someone else noticed it and sent an ambulance that arrived four minutes after that. The usual response time is about 90 seconds faster.”

The young girl was alive when emergency medical personnel arrived. When the ambulance arrived at the hospital, the young girl was pronounced dead.

While this tragedy is heart-rending, hundreds of calls are answered by 911 operators and immediate assistance is sent. When you are in an accident and have an emergency, call 911 for assistance. Once your situation is stable, call our NY personal injury attorneys to help protect your rights.

See Related Posts:

Being Chauffeured by Rosie the Robot

Walking Through New York