Injuries suffered in car accidents can be costly and take a long time to heal. This is especially true in the case of a traumatic brain injury or spine injury, in which the recovery often takes an extended period of time and there may exist permanent disability and a diminished quality of life.
A mother and her 4-year old daughter were attempting to cross a New York street when they were both struck by an SUV. Authorities are not expected to file any charges against the driver. The mother suffered a broken pelvis and bruised lungs in the accident. The young girl has endured hours of surgery and doctors had to re-attach her spinal cord to her skull. Officials will continue to investigate the accident and previous accidents to determine if additional safety measures should have been in place at the intersection. The DOT will be consulted on pedestrian safety in the area. An attorney hired by the family has stated that actions could be brought against the State of New York or the city where the accident occurred.
In any accident involving a pedestrian, there are numerous parties with potential liability including the driver, the pedestrian and the party responsible for maintaining the roadway. In the case above there are mentions of improper safety measures in place at the scene of the accident and possible liability on the part of the state or the municipality.
Government entities used to enforce sovereign immunity in such cases, preventing their liability. These rules have been relaxed, however, and entities may face limited liability. The government may be held to a low standard of care, such as that owed to an invitee. They may be liable for special defects, which are dangerous conditions on their property that they know of, or should know of, and have a duty to correct. Finally, written notice requirements are typically in place that must be met.
The recovery for the victims in this case may take a long time and create significant costs. If they are unable to hold the SUV driver liable for their actions, a claim against the state or city may be possible, but there are requirements of which to be cognizant.