04/16/2013 // New York, NY, USA // New York Injury Accident Lawyer // Jonathan C. Reiter // (press release)

A car jumped the curb at a bus stop, in the Flatbush section of Brooklyn, seriously injuring 11 people waiting for a bus, including a mother and her two-year-old boy, reports New York pedestrian accident attorney, Jonathan C. Reiter. The two-year-old child survived the initial accident, but was reported to have died several days later at Kings County Hospital. This incident occurred on April 1, 2013 at approximately 6:15 pm. at the corner of Utica and Church Avenue in East Flatbush. All eleven victims were removed to area hospitals following the accident. The mother was reported to be in extremely serious condition at King’s County Hospital and expected to survive. She was reportedly not made aware of the death of her son, and is reported to be semi-comatose.

The woman driver, who had a young male passenger in the vehicle told police that her brakes failed just prior to the accident. After striking the 11 victims, the vehicle continued forward, finally coming to rest when it struck the side of a building, collapsing a portion of scaffolding in the process. The New York Police Department is investigating this accident, which is required by New York State law. The vehicle was impounded to test the brakes. The driver of the vehicle submitted to a Breathalyzer test at the scene, which was reported as normal. NYPD investigators reported that an accident report was not yet available.

New York pedestrian accident attorney, Jonathan C. Reiter, who has handled many motor vehicle and pedestrian accidents in New York, commented on the nature of a single vehicle striking so many pedestrians, as follows: “When a vehicle loses control and strikes many pedestrians, killing a child and leaving the mother in very serious condition, one must look at the factors that possibly caused this accident, including the gross negligence of the driver. If the cause of this accident were a failure of the brakes, then the emergency doctrine would apply if the driver could prove no prior knowledge of the brake failure. The emergency doctrine exonerates the driver from liability for this accident, unless she was negligent in another way, such as operating her vehicle at excessive speed under the circumstances. The fact that the vehicle continued to travel through the large group of pedestrians and only came to rest by hitting a building may be a strong indication that the brakes failed. The brakes will be carefully tested by the NYPD to determine whether they were failed and whether such failure was the cause of the accident. These brakes must be tested as soon as possible by independent investigation as well, to ensure the accuracy of test results, and to preserve crucial evidence before the vehicle is either repaired or disposed of.”

Mr. Reiter went on to explain the type of lawsuit that would be filed on behalf of the eleven victims of this accident, should the brakes be tested and found defective, as follows: “In the case of failed or defective brakes, each of the eleven victims of this accident will have a lawsuit against the manufacturer of the vehicle based on a claim of products liability.” Mr. Reiter then explained the twin issue of coverage for the victims’ injuries as follows: “ In addition to a possible lawsuit based in products liability, there could be a lawsuit based on negligence against the driver of the vehicle if she was operating her vehicle in an otherwise negligent manner. Certainly, in any lawsuit, she and the owner of the vehicle would be included as defendants, until all the facts of this accident were determined by both the police investigators and private investigators as well.” Mr. Reiter went on to discuss the coverage issues in a case such as this, as follows: “In New York, there is the no-fault statute which states that items of basic economic loss as the victims’ medical and hospital expenses, lost wages, housekeeping services and transportation to and from medical appointments which are covered by the vehicle that hit the pedestrians, in this case, the only vehicle involved in this crash, regardless of fault. In addition, each victim has a claim for their bodily injuries that are required by law to be “serious and permanent” injuries. This latter part of the law is referred to as the ‘no-fault threshold.’

There are issues of coverage in an accident in which so many people sustain injuries from just one vehicle. Mr. Reiter explained as follows: “There is coverage known as ‘underinsured motorist coverage’ (UM) and household underinsured motorist coverage’ (HHUM). In the event that there is insufficient coverage from the vehicle that crashed into these pedestrians, they are obliged to look at their own vehicles’ insurance policies, and determine whether they have sufficient underinsured motorist coverage to cover their losses from this tragic accident. Ultimately, the issue of coverage is one that is very complicated and requires the services of an attorney experienced in this area of law. In addition, the law places time limits in which to make these types of claims, which are, in general, strictly upheld by the courts.” Therefore, time is of the essence.

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