The city continues to experience pedestrian injuries and deaths on an almost daily basis. Taxis, buses and other commercial services licensed in New York are contributing substantially to the problem. The latest pedestrian accident, which achieved temporary Facebook fame, occurred on March 20 at Grand Concourse and 170th Street. It resulted in the death of a 5-year-old girl and a 25-year-old man, along with critically injuring a 55-year-old man.
The taxi driver reportedly fainted or fell asleep at the wheel. His license was suspended immediately after the accident, but police did not ticket him, pending an ongoing investigation. Citizens’ groups demanded action and a thorough investigation of the driver’s health, medical records, phone usage and other relevant details. A spokesman for the safety group Right of Way said that the public had a right to know every detail surrounding the cabbie’s situation.
A video showed the 25-year-old victim standing near a bus stop when his body was flipped into the air across three lanes of traffic, landing and skidding to the curb where he was found to be dead. The video went viral on Facebook. Furthermore, both decedents were being mourned by many family, friends and supporters after the mind-shattering event. The prevalence of video technology is helpful in allowing plaintiffs’ investigatory agents to reconstruct an accident scene less expensively than in the past.
The estates of both the girl and the man are entitled to file wrongful death claims in the New York court system. The filing of criminal charges against the cabbie are not necessary to the success of wrongful death claims on behalf of the victims. The damages claims for this pedestrian accident need only prove negligence by the cab driver whereas in order to convict for a criminal offense, such as vehicular homicide, the standard of care to be proved is heightened to criminal recklessness or more. Furthermore, the burden of proof in the civil case for monetary damages is much easier to satisfy than in a criminal case.
Source: New York Post, “Runaway cab plows man into traffic in disturbing video“, Rebecca Harshbarger and Dana Sauchelli, April 1, 2015