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New York Personal Injury Law Blog

Reduced Speed Limit to Prevent Car Accidents in the Bronx

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Speed limits on city streets with higher-than-average car accident numbers are being reduced as part of Mayor de Blassio's Vision Zero initiative. The Grand Concourse in the Bronx will be the city's second street to have its speed limit reduced as part of the program. The first was Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn.

The speed limit on the Grand Concourse will go from 30 MPH to 25 MPH as a result of the stepped-up effort to reduce traffic accidents and fatalities in New York City.

Discount Bus Accident Shines Light on Safety Issues

A bus bound for New York City from Washington, D.C., crashed into a guard rail on Interstate 95, putting five injured people in the hospital. The bus, operated by the discount line Megabus, drove onto the right should and hit the guardrail a little after 3:30 PM, according to the Maryland State Police.

The driver later told authorities that he believed the crash was the result of a mechanical problem. Discount intercity bus companies have had spotty safety records in recent years, with several highly-publicized fatal crashes caused either by driver error or maintenance issues. Several so-called Chinatown bus lines - buses that run between Chinatowns in major cities -- have been shut down by the federal government because of negligence and poor safety records.

DOT Hopes to Prevent Pedestrian Accidents With Changes

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The New York City Department of Transportation (DOT) is taking steps to make the intersection of Broadway and 96th Street in Manhattan safer for pedestrians. Two fatal pedestrian accidents occurred last year on the same day and within a few blocks of each other and the deadly intersection.

Captain Faulted in NYC Ferry Accident

The captain of a New York City ferry was identified as being responsible for a 2013 crash while attempting to dock in lower Manhattan. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigated the accident, which caused personal injury to 70 out of the 331 passengers and crew aboard.

April is 'Distracted Driving Month'-Why Everyone Should Be Paying Attention

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The New York personal injury attorneys at Block O'Toole & Murphy have been talking about distracted driving for a long time. It goes without saying that texting and cell phone use behind the wheel significantly increases a driver's risk of crashing. One momentary lapse in judgment can shape the rest of your life or the life of another wholly innocent person. It isn't worth it and it can wait.

Fatal Queens Car Accident Spurs City to Look at Signage

The death of four college students in a car accident in Queens last week is prompting New York City to examine its signage policies. According to NY1, the city posted warning signs near the scene of the accident less than a year ago, but intends to review the signs to ensure that they are clear.

While they are at it, they might wish to examine the barricade at the end of the dead-end street where 19th Avenue meets Steinway Creek. According to a worker whose office is nearby, "That section hasn't been barricaded in 10 years." The metal guardrail that once protected the spot collapsed years ago and is invisible under the vines and bushes.

Light Should Reduce Car Accidents at Dangerous Brooklyn Intersection

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After neighborhood residents complained, the New York City Department of Transportation recently installed a new traffic light at a dangerous intersection in the Bedford- Stuyvesant neighborhood.

People in the area had complained about the danger of the corner of Taaffe Place and Willoughby Avenue. The intersection has limited site lines and heavy traffic heading east on Willoughby.

Metro North Derailment Sleep Apnea Defense Looming

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While the tabloids are speculating about whether Rockefeller will face criminal charges, there may be civil implications for the victims here as well. It says here that Metro North will wheel out a rarely used, but occasionally effective, defense to explain away their potential culpability for this horrible accident: the "Sudden and Unanticipated Medical Emergency Defense." What are we talking about here?

Well, Metro North in almost every scenario is responsible for the actions of Rockefeller since he was an employee acting within the scope of his employment for Metro North. If Rockefeller failed to act reasonably in operating the train, then Metro North is hit as if the agency itself was actually operating the train. This is a concept in law often referred to as 'Respondeat Superior' or vicarious liability. However, the law will not hold the individual or agency responsible if a collision, or, in this case, a train derailment, is the result of an unexpected and sudden medical emergency. The root of this defense is the feeling that it is not fair to hold someone responsible for something they can't control. How may the defense apply in this case? If Rockefeller had no notice of the medical condition sleep apnea and it is determined that the medical condition was the actual cause of the derailment then Rockefeller may not be held accountable for the derailment.

If the defense works to the benefit of Rockefelller, then it also shields Metro North from responsibility. So, pay careful attention to everything that comes out on this case and ask whether it is shaped by Metro North seeking to utilize this defense to limit their exposure.

Does this mean the victims here are without a remedy? Absolutely not. It does mean, however, that the liability battle that appeared to be a foregone conclusion may not be so simple. What are some of the issues people need to look out for? A careful and thorough review of Rockefeller's medical records are essential. They may illustrate an awareness of the sleep apnea condition or a scenario where he should have realized there was a concern and failed to act.

For example, he reports to his physician that he feels sluggish, overly tired. The physician orders some tests that may have revealed the sleep apnea condition but Rockefeller fails to follow through with the tests. In that instance, both Rockefeller and Metro North will likely be held civilly responsible for this tragedy because they would be hard pressed, under those facts, to argue that the condition was sudden and unanticipated. Another fruitful area for review is Rockefeller's employee file. Things like his application, annual physicals and work history may have important information contained in them about whether Rockefeller or Metro North had reason to be aware of this condition.

Primary care doctors for Rockefeller will almost certainly be questioned under oath about what they knew and when they learned of it. Victim advocates will also undoubtedly point to the trace amounts of drowsy inducing antihistamine in Rockefeller's system in arguing for why he should not have been operating the train that day.

This development will make the Metro North litigation worth watching. As lawyers that represent victims, we are hoping that the victims and their loved ones are treated justly and fairly. Nevertheless, the victims and their lawyers need to be vigilant when it comes to defeating this potential defense.

Block O'Toole & Murphy is a New York City personal injury law firm that takes pride in fighting for the underdog. They have won more than $750,000,000 in verdicts and settlements for their seriously injured clients. To learn more about them, please see the firm website at www.blockotoole.com. For a free consultation, please feel free to contact them at 212.736.5300.

Sources

http://nypost.com/2014/04/07/metro-north-deadly-crash-conductor-has-sleep-apnea-police/

http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/metro-north-engineer-sleep-disorder-meds-crash-article-1.1748476

Customers Suffer Personal Injury in Bronx Store Accident

Unwary customers were buried by piles of shelves and merchandise after overstocked shelves collapsed in a 99 Cent Store located in the Bronx. The avalanche of shelves and merchandise buried eight victims, including several children, at the Morris Avenue discount store.

One shelf fell and then a series of adjacent shelves and the merchandise on them cascaded down on top of the unsuspecting shoppers. Reportedly, all victims were removed from the rubble by concerned citizens and firefighters and then rushed to Lincoln Hospital in the Bronx. Seven of the victims were seriously injured and remain hospitalized.

Will Proposal to Reduce Fatal Traffic Accidents With Speed Cameras be Approved?

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For the better part of a year, the New York attorneys at Block O'Toole & Murphy have been monitoring proposals that politicians have tossed out regarding pedestrian safety and the reduction of traffic fatalities. Now, it appears the talk will start to be replaced by action. Based on numerous media reports and comments by city and state politicians, an oft-discussed speed camera proposal sounds like it is about to become a reality.

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