A horrific accident on Long Island took the lives of four young women on Saturday, July 18, at about 5:10 p.m. The women were occupants of a limousine that was making a U-turn when it was T-boned by a pickup truck driven by a 55-year-old man who has been charged — so far — with DWI. The fatal accident took place in the intersection of Route 48 and Depot Lane in Cutchogue.
Initial reports listed the decedents as residents of New York City but those reports were apparently incorrect. Later in the evening, the deceased women were all identified as Long Island residents. Additionally, the early reports indicated that the occupants of the limousine were all part of a wedding party and that the decedents were all bridesmaids. Those reports were not confirmed, and later statements indicated that there was a bride in the car and she was with a group of friends, but possibly not bridesmaids.
In any event, the bride herself survived but was one of two survivors who were seriously injured. The limousine was reportedly leaving a winery called Vineyard 48. Vehicles leaving the winery must make a U-turn at Depot Lane to be able to travel west on Route 48. It appears therefore that the U-turn may be a legal and authorized procedure at that location, although news reports are unclear at this time.
There were four women in the limo who survived and were hospitalized. The limo driver and the pickup driver both also survived. Police charged the pickup driver with DWI, but indicated that stiffer charges would be forthcoming. That statement would seem to indicate that the authorities are placing fault on the pickup driver, but the details are not being reported.
In New York and all states, the criminal charges are not determinative of whether the injured and deceased parties have a claim against the charged driver. However, if the criminal charges are directly related to the deaths and injuries of those in the limousine, and if those charges result in convictions, then there may be negligence per se in the civil claims. The families of the four deceased women will protect their rights to maximum compensation from this fatal accident by consulting with an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as conveniently possible.
Source: North Fork, NY Patch, “4 Killed, Bride Seriously Injured When Drunk Driver Hits Limo in Cutchogue: Prosecutors“, Ryan Bonner, July 19, 2015