Fair is fair, no matter what.
Yes we represent victims in serious bus accidents and we have been fortunate enough to be in a position to have been able to make a real difference in the lives of the victims and their families. But that does not cloud our sense of fundamental fairness. We have been critical of New York City’s “Right of Way” law since its inception. Now, it seems the scales are about to become more balanced as a result of a deal being struck by the City and the Transport Workers Union (TWU).
The earlier version of the law permitted law enforcement to charge a bus driver with a crime where they could potentially serve jail time if they accidentally struck a pedestrian. Criminalizing accidents with nothing more in play is a very dangerous game. Cops were obviously wary of the law, hesitant to slap a criminal charge on an honest, hard-working bus operator because of an error in judgment. We maintained that the law, as drafted, was unfair, even in cases where we represented the victim in the collision.
The Transport Workers Union, to their credit took, action and fought for their members. They filed suit against the city earlier this year, claiming that the law was unfair. The case was pending in Brooklyn Federal Court before Judge Cogan. The City and the bus drivers union reached a settlement this week clarifying the practical implications of the hastily drafted law. Now, the “Right of Way” law can’t be used just because a driver accidentally strikes a pedestrian. There now needs to be further proof that the driver failed to drive in a reasonable manner under the circumstances. For example, a driver who strikes a pedestrian may be charged if they were:
- Texting or emailing
- Driving recklessly
- Using a cellphone unlawfully
The modification makes a lot more sense. It holds drivers accountable when they make poor decisions that evince a disregard for the safety of others. It does not punish mere accidents without more.
Block O’Toole & Murphy is a law firm that prides itself on being a passionate voice for victims of serious accidents. The lawyers at this firm have amassed more than $850,000,000 in verdicts and settlements for their clients. You can learn more about these victim advocates and accomplished trial lawyers by reviewing the firm website at www.blockotoole.com.