Transportation Alternatives is a watchdog group that follows the prosecutorial practices of New York City authorities against reckless and dangerous drivers who cause serious physical injury and death to pedestrians and bicyclists in the city. TA has issued a recent report, indicating that authorities in all of the boroughs are letting many drivers who are criminally responsible get away with their offenses without charges. For example, the report documents numerous accidents involving the wrongful death or serious injury of children and others that resulted in no charges being brought.
The report is enlightening regarding the policies and practices of the district attorneys in the boroughs. However, it does not address the strong remedies open to victims and their families under the civil law. The tort remedies available under New York law give those injured and the families of those killed the right to bring civil claims against the at-fault drivers and to enforce money judgments against them.
In our system of civil liability, drivers are required by law to carry insurance coverage. In the case of cab drivers, buses and other licensed transportation facilities, the potential coverage for these types of accidents is generally high enough to extract reasonably adequate recoveries. The public transportation authorities, cab companies and other entities that employ at-fault drivers are liable under agency principles for the money damages awarded to victims.
Additionally, where there is recklessness, punitive damages may be imposed. The payment of large awards is likely to exert a remedial corrective result in other avenues due to insurance company and public budgetary pressures for change. In addition to grass-roots pressure, the tort remedy is thus another powerful influence that can combine to bring about stronger criminal laws, greater rewards by insurance companies for safe driving and a host of other related factors that will tend to lessen accident numbers in New York City. Victims of serious injury, or the families of deceased victims, caused by negligent or reckless drivers in vehicular accidents may consult with an experienced wrongful death and personal injury attorney to determine the options and remedies that may be available civilly.
Source: gothamist.com, “Report: “Killing A Person With A Car Is Acceptable” In NYC: Gothamist“, Christopher Robbins, Dec. 9, 2015