The wife and 13-year-old daughter of a New York City Police Department detective were stunned to later find out that the traffic jam that had held them up on the Sprain Brook Parkway on the morning of Feb. 27 was due to an accident involving their loved one. Their 46-year-old husband and father was hit head-on and killed by a wrong-way driver of a 2013 Honda Civic. The victim was on his way to work in Queens, according to police. A little later in the morning, his wife and daughter were unknowingly stuck in the traffic jam related to the fatal accident, as the mother was transporting their daughter to school.
The victim was declared dead at the scene; the 21-year-old driver of the wrong-way vehicle was critically injured and remains in a coma. Police were not ready to give an opinion regarding why the Honda driver was going the wrong way. However, that fact, if it proves accurate, will likely suffice to establish negligence per se and liability for the detective’s death.
Negligence per se is a legal finding of negligence based on the violation of a traffic regulation leading up to the accident. This finding of negligence as a matter of law relieves the plaintiff of having to prove negligence at trial. The violation of the traffic regulation, in this case driving in the wrong direction, must be a substantial factor in causing the accident. Here, the wrong-way violation was in fact a substantial factor in causing the accident and the victim’s death.
The decedent’s estate may pursue a wrongful death claim against the at-fault driver in the fatal accident. In New York and elsewhere, the insurance company for the at-fault driver will make an investigation, and if liability appears clear and certain, the company will generally turn over the policy limits within a reasonable time. The decedent’s own auto policy may then be responsible for compensation for underinsured motorists’ coverage. In fact, in such situations it may be helpful to investigate different sources of potential compensation, which is best done through the assistance of an experienced personal injury law firm.
Source: NBC New York, “NYPD Detective Killed in Wrong-Way Crash on NY Highway; Wife Stuck in Traffic Aftermath“, Andrew Siff, Feb. 28, 2015