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Fatal Car Accidents Caused by Drunk Wrong Way Drivers

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The tragic death of a New York City detective killed on the Sprain Brook Parkway in Westchester illustrates how driving drunk can cause horrific accidents. The detective, who was planning to retire later this year, leaves behind a wife and 13-year old daughter.

The detective was killed by a wrong way driver. This type of accident is shockingly common on the parkways and highways in and around New York. In addition to the most recent incident, which occurred on Friday, February 26 in the early morning hours as the police officer was on his way to work in Queens, there have been several other wrong-way fatalities and injuries in recent years.

Kenny Valette, 20, Killed in Tractor Trailer Collision

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The legislation behind New York's "Vision Zero" has been written with the blood of victims like Kenny Valette.

Valette, a 20-year-old man from the Bronx, was fatally struck by a tractor-trailer last evening

Valette was crossing Webster Avenue near E. 174th St. when the truck made a right-hand turn from the ramp of the Cross Bronx Expressway. The truck driver apparently didn't see him and crashed into him.

Emergency personnel rushed to the scene and took the victim to St. Barnabas Hospital in the Bronx. He was pronounced dead there.

An investigation is underway. It is not clear whether the driver will face criminal charges. The new legislation provides prosecutors with the ability to charge a driver with a misdemeanor if they kill or seriously injure a pedestrian who has the right-of-way.

Understandably, prosecutors have been reticent in filing these charges. Still, there is some serious thought that filing charges in appropriate cases will serve as a deterrent factor for other driver's and may save lives. 

Midtown Manhattan Building Collapses During Demolition

The lawyers at Block O'Toole & Murphy are bringing you details of another frightening construction accident that took place today in New York City. The setting was bustling midtown Manhattan. 

Should I File a Personal Injury Claim or a Lawsuit? Part 2

Our previous blog post described a hypothetical car accident insurance claim and an insurance claim that leads to a demand letter. This post will discuss the circumstances under which you should consider talking with a lawyer about filing a personal injury lawsuit.

We described two scenarios in the first blog post - a rear-end accident where no one was injured, and another accident in which your soft tissue injuries required physical therapy, medical, and resulted in time lost from work. This third accident resulted in much more serious injuries than the first two.

Construction Worker Killed at Brooklyn's Barclays Center

The attorneys at Block O'Toole & Murphy are following a recent accident that killed a construction worker who was at the Barclays Center in the Fort Green section of Brooklyn.

The accident occurred on Tuesday, February 24 during the afternoon. A 52-year-old ironworker, was working with a construction crew charged with the installing a "green roof" at the arena. The man, an employee of Greenland Forest City Partners, was crushed by a falling beam at the site. He was defenseless and unable to avoid this terrible accident. Emergency personnel rushed to the scene and transported the man to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family and friends of this victim. A fatal accident is always tragic; tragedy is compounded when victims die solely because they showed up to do an honest and hard day's work. It still happens too often.

Should I File a Personal Injury Claim or a Lawsuit? Part 1

The terms "claim" and "lawsuit" are used frequently in this blog and most other personal injury websites. In many instances they are used interchangeably. But are they really the same thing?

The answer is that a personal injury claim and a personal injury lawsuit are very different and it is helpful to understand that difference in order know what to do after an injury suffered in a car crash or other type of accident.

Generally speaking, the word claim refers to a claim against an insurance company, whether the claim is against your own insurance company or that of another person involved in the car accident. A lawsuit is a legal action filed in civil court against the party who caused your injuries. The examples below can illustrate the differences.

Insurance Claim

Let's pretend you were rear-ended while stopped at a red light. Because the vehicle that hit you was travelling slowly, neither of you are injured. However, the back of your car is crushed and the trunk lock is broken. You call your insurance company to notify them of the accident and that you will be filing a claim. An estimator comes to look at your car and report the amount the insurance company will pay to repair the damage. You then go to a body shop to have the repairs done. The body shop bills the insurance company, which may then turn around and bill the other driver's insurance company because he or she was almost certainly at fault in the accident - most rear end accidents are the fault of the second driver. This is an example of an accident claim against an insurance company. Although sometimes it can be frustrating and time-consuming, it is relatively straightforward. Your get your car repaired and that's the end of it.

Vision Zero in Queens: Preventing Traffic and Pedestrian Deaths


The most dangerous streets in Queens for pedestrians include Queens, Woodhaven and Junction boulevards. Half of all pedestrian fatalities and severe injuries occurred on these streets. On Tuesday, officials revealed their plan to make these and other dangerous streets in Queens safer. According to, The plan includes more speed limit signs and better-timed traffic lights. Improvements in these priority corridors are part of Vision Zero, the mayor's plan to reduce fatalities and catastrophic injuries.

According to the city's Department of Transportation (DOT), most crashes in Queens occur in densely populated neighborhoods such as Sunnyside, Jackson Heights, Flushing Jamaica and Elmhurst. These are among the priority areas identified by the DOT.

New York City Motor Vehicle Accident Rate Compared to Others

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According to traffic data statistics released by the New York Police Department (NYPD), 12 people died in the five boroughs of New York City as a result of motor vehicle accidents. Of these 12, one was a driver, one a passenger and the other 10 were pedestrians.

Additionally, there were 17,281 motor vehicle accidents. Of these, 3,118 caused injury or death. What else do we know about accidents in the city during December?

Causes of Motor Vehicle Accidents in New York

These injuries and deaths were the result of 32 contributing factors that range from aggressive driving/ road rage to vehicle vandalism. Of the 32, the three most common causes of motor vehicle accident injuries and fatalities were failure to yield right of way, driver distraction and inattention, and following too closely.

Car Accident Kills '60 Minutes' Reporter Bob Simon

Sadly, 73 year old '60 Minutes' Correspondent Bob Simon was killed on Wednesday February 11, 2015, after the black livery vehicle in which he was a passenger was sideswiped by a Mercedes sedan. The tragic accident happened in Manhattan on 12th Avenue near West 30th Street at around 6:45 p.m. After the initial collision, the livery car reportedly crashed into metal stanchions separating the north and southbound lanes of 12th Avenue.

Metro North Train Accident Raises Questions

trainaccident2.jpgIt turns out that the tragic accident on the Metro-North commuter line last week was not the first crash at that particular intersection in Westchester County. In 1984, according to the Daily News, a truck crossing the tracks at the same spot in 1984 was hit by a Metro-North train, killing the truck driver. According to press reports at the time, the truck was dragged 750 feet before the train stopped. The truck apparently did not stop before attempting to cross the tracks.