One of the more dangerous predicaments a driver can face is that of breaking down on a fast-paced New York highway. Depending on the circumstances, it may be tough to decide whether it is safer to wait inside the car or outside of it while waiting for rescue assistance. A fatal accident or one causing serious injuries can occur either way.
It happened just recently on the Sunrise Highway in Bay Shore at around 12 noon. A 21-year-old woman's vehicle was broken down, and she was apparently sitting in the driver's seat while an emergency tow truck driver was hooking her car up for a tow. A Chevrolet Caprice operated by a 51-year-old man from West Islip crashed into the operator's door where the woman was apparently seated.
The crash killed the woman and turned her vehicle into a tangled shard of debris. The driver himself remained critical but stable at a Long Island hospital. The driver of the tow truck was unhurt. The reported details at this early point are sparse and do not describe the circumstances of where the woman's car was situated -- or whether it was on or off the road.
The details of why the male operator lost control, or the direction in which he traveled, are also unknown at this time. Long Island police are still investigating this fatal accident -- they've stated, however, that they don't believe that criminality was involved. That determination is irrelevant to whether the driver was negligent in operating his vehicle and crashing into the victim's car. The driver can be innocent of criminality and yet be found liable under New York law for wrongful death damages to the decedent's family. It is much easier to prove a civil claim for money damages than it is to prove that an individual is guilty of a criminal act.
Source: 7online.com, "Woman being helped by tow truck killed in Sunrise Highway crash", Carolina Leid, Oct. 29, 2014