$2,000,000 Settlement for Family of Driver Killed in Black Ice Accident

Court and County

Supreme, Queens

Plaintiff Description

We represented the estate of the driver who was killed in this tragic accident; the decedent had no wife or children, and so his parents were the rightful distributees of his estate.

Description of Case

Our client's son was driving east on the Grand Central Parkway at around 3 a.m. Eventually he came to a part of the road which was covered in black ice, causing him to spin out and strike a tow truck which was on the side of the highway responding to an accident in the same location from just two hours earlier.

Our clients, the parents of the deceased driver, alleged that the City of New York was on notice for several years of the icy condition in this area. The source of the water was determined to be a marsh near the shoulder of the road. When the water would rise over a certain height, it would overflow from a manhole cover on the road due to insufficient drainage. This icy condition was found to have caused nearly 100 accidents in the years prior, and was known to exist even when the weather was warm and dry.

At first it was unclear who was responsible for maintaining this road, New York City or the State of New York. Further investigation revealed that while the City was responsible for maintaining the road, the State was responsible for major renovations because they owned it.

We argued that the city was responsible for not properly salting or sanding the road. They were further negligent because they did not erect any signage warning motorists of the known icy condition in this area. A Department of Sanitation truck did come to sand and salt this area of the road after the accident occurred.

Separate accusations were made against the State for not improving the drainage system at the location of the accident. This became a separate case and eventually settled for $1,500,000.

Injuries

When Emergency Services first arrived on the scene, they did not believe anybody was likely to die from the incident, and so no pictures or measurements were taken. The crash was severe enough, however, that the roof of the vehicle had to be removed to extract the two victims and take them to the hospital.

The driver was found to have suffered a basilar skull fracture and brain stem contusions; we later made a claim for conscious pain and suffering on his behalf. His girlfriend, who was in the passenger's seat and who filed a lawsuit of her own, was seriously injured but thankfully survived.

At the time of the accident, the driver was living with his parents and supporting them in numerous ways. A claim was made on their behalf for the loss of the support their son had been providing for them.

Settlement

This case settled just prior to trial for $2,000,000.

Handling Attorneys

This matter was handled by Daniel P. O'Toole and Frederick C. Aranki.

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