Articles Posted in Public Transportation Accidents

On March 24, a train accident occurred in Mentz, NY resulting in the death of a passenger in the vehicle. The accident occurred at the North Main Street railroad station when a work van drove around the flashing lights and horizontal bars that signaled a train coming; one person was ejected from the vehicle and died. The accident occurred at approximately 6:50 a.m., leaving one line open for the passing of freight trains with both lines being open by 12 noon; the two sets of tracks are major routes with 50-60 freight and Amtrak passenger trains passing through daily.

Rob Doolittle, communications director for the CSX railroad, stated that the Federal Railroad Administration estimates that every three hours a person or vehicle is struck by a train. In 2015, there were 31 incidents in New York where a train struck a vehicle at a railroad crossing.  These accidents resulted in eight deaths and 59 injuries. Doolittle said the deaths were unfortunate and that people should pay attention at all times. People who live near train tracks may think they know the train schedule; however, it is never a good idea to ignore the warning signs because trains today travel quickly and are much quieter.   In some instances, drivers may not realize that as one train passes another could be passing in the opposite direction.

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bus stop.jpgWilliam Pena, 49, a 17-year veteran of the MTA and a father of a 14-year-old daughter, was killed in February 2014 after a stolen box truck driven by Domonic Whilby, 22, crashed into the bus he was driving in Greenwich Village. According to police, Pena was thrown from the driver’s seat and landed under the bus; he was pronounced dead at the scene. Three of the bus’ passengers were treated for non-life threatening injuries. Whilby was taken to Bellvue Hospital, where he was treated for minor neck injuries and was tested for drugs and alcohol. Whilby faces ten charges, including manslaughter, grand larceny, criminal assault, criminal mischief and criminal trespass.

According to witnesses of the accident, which occurred at 5:30 a.m. at the intersection of West 14th Street and 7th Avenue, Whilby ran a red light and then hit the bus. Before coming to a final stop at the corner of the intersection, the truck and bus hit parked cars, a cab, sidewalk scaffolding, a subway entrance, and a person on a scooter.

Eddie Abdelmorty, the driver of the scooter, was uninjured. He said, “He [Whilby] didn’t even brake…He went right through the red light at the end of the block.”

On May 1st, the Second Department affirmed a summary judgment ruling in favor of a defendant NYC bus in a businterior.jpgpersonal injury case involving a fall. The plaintiff had sued for personal injury after falling inside the bus when the driver stopped short. The defendant, New York City Transit Authority, was granted summary judgment by the Supreme Court in Queens. The driver of the bus testified that a car had swerved in front of him while making an illegal lane change, which led to the sudden braking. It was the jolt from this short stop that caused the plaintiff’s fall and subsequent injury.

The appellate court, in affirming the order, cited the emergency doctrine, which states that an individual may not be held negligent for reasonable and prudent actions in the face of an emergency, if the emergency is sudden, unexpected, and not of the individual’s own making. Left with no time to reflect on a course of action, the individual avoids liability if his or her actions are reasonable within the context of the emergency. As the plaintiff failed to raise a triable issue of fact in response to the emergency doctrine presented by the defendant, the court granted summary judgment for the defendant, and now the Second Department has affirmed. To avoid a collision, and the risk of serious injury to the other driver and the other passengers on the bus, the driver acted reasonably and prudently in his sudden application of the brake. Thus, although one passenger was injured, the driver’s actions were protected by the emergency doctrine.

The full Order by the Appellate Court can be found here on the New York Official Reports website.

A Long Island bus crashed into a house Tuesday night after swerving to avoid a jay-walking pedestrian, the NY Daily News is reporting. The driver was able to divert the bus in time to avoid fatally injuring the pedestrian, however the accident killed a young boy inside the house. The boy’s brother was also injured in the accident, although not fatally. The pedestrian sustained multiple fractures of the upper body, including several ribs and his skull.

crosswalk.jpgNew York Vehicle and Traffic Law section 1152(a) states that “Every pedestrian crossing a roadway at any point other than within a marked crosswalk or within an unmarked crosswalk at an intersection shall yield the right of way to all vehicles upon the roadway.” It appears from the story in the Daily News that the pedestrian in this case, because he was jaywalking, was in violation of this section of the VTL. The News claims that the pedestrian may face criminal charges, although these charges are not specified. Criminal charges, should they be levied against the jaywalker, could take several forms. Depending on the facts of the situation, the pedestrian’s conduct could be viewed on a scale from negligent to reckless, which would effect any potential charges that could be brought. Without this information (had the walker been drinking: was the bus driver speeding; etc), it is difficult to speculate on exactly what charges are being considered. It will be interesting to check back in and see both if charges are filed, and if so what these charges are.

The full tragic story can be found here in the New York Daily News.

school bus.jpgA Queens school bus driver was apprehended shortly after colliding with an MTA bus in Corona yesterday afternoon, according to a Daily News report. Fortunately no children were on the school bus at the time. However, sixteen people in total were injured.

A driver involved in a car, bus or trucking accident that hits another vehicle is required by law not to leave the scene of the accident under NY Vehicle and Traffic Law section 600. The driver must stop and provide identification in the event that he knowingly damaged personal property during the accident. The News did not report whether any charges had been filed against the driver as yet.

The full Daily News story can be found here.

A Second Department ruling last month affirmed a Suffolk County court’s decision to set aside a jury verdict finding that a defendant bus driver was not negligent in the operation of his vehicle. The jury initially found that the driver, who had been traveling along the shoulder of Montauk Highway and passing cars traveling on the main road, was not negligent. Citing CPLR 4404(a), the court set aside the verdict as contrary to the weight of the evidence, and ordered a new trial.

bus.jpgCPLR 4404(a) states that “after a trial of a cause of action or issue triable of right by a jury, upon the motion of any party or on its own initiative, the court may set aside a verdict…and…order a new trial of a cause of action…where the verdict is contrary to the weight of the evidence, in the interest of justice.” The court asserted that the driver’s actions, as demonstrated by the evidence, was a violation of Vehicle and Traffic Law Section 1122(a), which deems that drivers must pass on the left when moving in the same direction, except where permitted otherwise. Because a Vehicle and Traffic Law violation is negligence as a matter of law, the court ruled that the jury could not possibly have found for the defendant in this instance.

Go here for the full decision.

In August, a Queens jury awarded damages in excess of 20 million dollars to a woman struck by an MTA bus in Long Island City. The plaintiff, a housekeeper, was awarded summary judgment after a surveillance video established that the pedestrian had the right of way. The bus did not yield and struck the plaintiff. Among her resulting injuries were multiple fractures of her dominant arm, facial abrasions and contusions, and subsequent amputations of the right (dominant) arm above the elbow and right leg below the knee. The plaintiff required twenty subsequent surgeries and seven months of rehabilitation.

337223_nyc_bus.jpgThe plaintiff claimed negligence on the part of the bus driver, and vicarious liability on the parts of the MTA, New York City Transit Authority, and MTA Bus Company. “Vicarious liability” allows for an employer to be held liable for the actions of his or her employees in certain situations. Generally, the employee must be performing the standard operations of his or her job description at the time the offense occurs for the employer to be held liable. In the case at hand, the plaintiff asserted vicarious liability because the driver negligently performed an everyday aspect of his job. The MTA employs him to drive the bus with reasonable care. and in this instance, he performed this duty negligently, so his employers could be found responsible for his negligence.

The breakdown of damages is as follows:

At trial in Kings County Supreme Court, a jury found Defendant, New York City Transit Authority, 70% at fault when Plaintiff, Clyde Davison, was struck by a train. Mr. Davison suffered a fractured clavicle and a fractured scapula as a result of the accident. The same jury awarded Mr. Davison $150,000 for past pain and suffering and $66,000 for future pain and suffering.

Plaintiff appealed arguing that the awards for pain and suffering were unreasonably low given the severity of the injuries. The Appellate Division, Second Department, agreed. The court increased damages on past pain and suffering from the principal sum of $150,000 to $275,000 and future pain and suffering from the principal sum of $66,000 to $175,000.

As a result, Mr. Davison will either have a new trial on damages or the Defendant will agree to pay at total of $315,000 ($192,500 ($275,000 x .70) for past pain and suffering and $122,500 ($175,000 x .70) for future pain and suffering).

A traffic accident involving a Brooklyn school bus and another vehicle left seven injured on Monday. Among those hurt in the crash were three children. No serious injuries were reported among the three children. bus stop.jpg

Although, according to witnesses, the other driver ran a stop sign, police have not, as yet, filed criminal charges in the accident. All involved in the accident are expected to make full recoveries.

Website Resource: 3 Children Among 7 Injured In Brooklyn School Bus Crash, CBS New York, January 4, 2011

The New York Appellate Division, First Department, recently overturned a $3.5 million verdict in a train accident case. The jury in the case returned a verdict in favor of an intoxicated 22-year-old whose foot was severed after falling on a subway track. The train operator testified that he saw what looked like garbage on the tracks from a distance away, but as the train proceeded, he realized it could have been a person. Once he realized it could be a person, he applied the emergency brake.

Plaintiff and defendant called experts who testified regarding subway train procedures, stopping distances, and reaction time. At the close of evidence, both sides move for directed verdict. Both applications were denied. The jury apportioned fault 65% to defendant and 35% to plaintiff. Defense counsel moved to set aside the verdict, which was denied.

On appeal, the First Department overturned the verdict as being based on insufficient evidence as a matter of law. Plaintiff’s expert reportedly testified based on an “average reaction time” of one second. The Court reasoned, “…in determining that the defendant’s train operator failed to exercise reasonable care because he could have stopped, the jury improperly equated negligence with possession of the motor skill that is essentially a reflex action.”

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