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Driver dead, passenger seriously injured in single-car accident

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Under New York law, when a car leaves the roadway and hits a telephone pole, that will almost always be ruled negligence on the part of the driver. Under extremely unusual facts, such as a massive breakdown of the car’s systems, the driver may be exonerated from a finding of negligence in causing the car accident. Even in that situation, however, the driver may be found responsible for not maintaining the vehicle and thus liable to any injured parties for that carelessness. Another point often discussed in these blogs is that the driver is virtually always going to be found liable to pay compensation for injuries suffered by any passengers in the vehicle.

Thus, a one-car fatal accident in which the driver is killed and the passenger seriously injured will generally justify an award of damages against the negligent driver's estate. In the city of Maine, New York on May 31, a man from Endicott drove his 1997 Chevrolet Monte Carlo off the road and into a telephone pole. He was declared dead on arrival at a local hospital.

His passenger, however, a female from the city of Maine, survived, but with life-threatening injuries, according to police reports. The New York State Police participated in the investigation. Authorities have indicated that speed and alcohol played a part in the accident. If those initial impressions hold up to be accurate, the decedent’s estate will likely be liable for injuries sustained by the passenger.

In the event that the driver did not have sufficient liability insurance to compensate the passenger’s injuries, she may collect underinsured motorists’ benefits under her own auto insurance policy. If she doesn't have a policy, she may be covered under a policy owned by a member of her household. That kind of insurance coverage is available in New York so that motorists can purchase their own insurance to make sure that there is compensation available if they are hurt in a car accident by an underinsured driver.

Source: wbng.com, "One dead, one seriously injured in car accident", Anna Norris, June 1, 2014

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