The aftermath of a motor vehicle accident involving a New York taxi-cab driver and a pedestrian demonstrates how much at risk you may be standing on a corner in the Astoria section of Queens. New York Daily News reports that if you are speaking with some of the local residents or commuters about traffic in the area, you might hear Queens Blvd. being referred to as the “Boulevard of Death.”
The family of one accident victim has brought about a multimillion-dollar lawsuit and a potential challenge to current insurance-coverage requirements. The suit also alleges that the city has been negligent in addressing the need for barriers, traffic control devices and warning signs. One of the family’s lawyers went on record to attribute the accident victim’s death to “the ‘Wild West’ culture of lawlessness” that has developed in Queens.
Although cab drivers in New York City are facing increased competition from ride-sharing apps such as Uber and Lyft, the accident victim’s family does not believe it justifies cabbies having free reign over the streets of Queens. Taxis, limousines and ride-share drivers must all abide by New York City’s Right of Way Law and yield for pedestrians. A driver may be charged with a misdemeanor crime if a pedestrian is injured or killed because of their failure to stop.
In the tragic accident that initiated the suit, a cab driver fatally struck a 26-year-old restaurant manager standing on the sidewalk of the Mobile gas station at 63rd Road and Queens Blvd. She was waiting for the light to turn before the green cab cut through the gas station and rammed into her. Bystanders allege that the cabbie did not stop his vehicle and continued driving while they chased him down the street. Eventually, the cab stopped and a bystander was able to pull the keys out of the ignition after the driver rolled down the window. When police questioned him, the 55-year-old taxi driver claimed his vehicle was experiencing a mechanical failure that prevented him from stopping.
The cab driver was not charged with a crime, but his license was suspended and he may face considerable legal action brought by the victim’s family. Drivers who are licensed by New York’s Taxi and Limousine Commission are required to carry an insurance policy that provides a minimum coverage of $100,000 for each person and $300,000 for each accident. This victim’s family, however, is suing for $25 million and hopes to encourage elected officials to raise the minimum required insurance coverage for taxis and to take steps to improve the safety of the streets.
This information is provided as a general idea of what can occur when a NYC cab driver hits a pedestrian, but it should not be interpreted as legal advice. If you’re in an accident, contact Surdez & Perez. We can help.