Deadly Car Crash in New York: When to determine fault

Just this week, on Monday, August 15, there were seven casualties in a two-vehicle accident, as reported by NBC New York. In the first vehicle, two 20-somethings were thrown from the vehicle and killed at the scene, while an elderly woman from the second vehicle was pronounced dead at the hospital. The rest of the occupants of the second car, a young family of four, were treated for minor injuries. The scene is set up like this: a Honda Civic, carrying the younger couple, appears to have lost control and crossed the center line, hitting a Nissan Pathfinder in the late afternoon.

While this seems like a pretty cut-and-dry accident scene—the driver of the Honda is clearly in the wrong—there is more than meets the eye. You may be wondering why the police handling the investigation brought in both vehicles for their safety inspection. Well, as any New York car accident attorney would tell you, there are many factors in play when someone gets into a car accident. For one, was it driver error that caused the accident or was the car manufactured/designed with a defect? Two, if either car (yes, including the car not at fault) didn’t have the safety measures up to code, would that have made the difference in the number of lives lost or the amount of injuries? In this case, while it’s entirely possible that the driver of the Honda was at fault—were they eating, texting, drifting off to sleep, or distracted by the passenger of the car—it’s also possible that the car itself may have contributed to the accident or even completely been at fault. If the brakes suddenly stopped working or the gas pedal got stuck, and the driver lost control, then the fault of the accident ends up lying on the company that manufactured the car. If either vehicle had malfunctioning airbags, could that have contributed to the deaths of any of the three killed? There are so many questions surrounding this accident alone.

When it comes to seeking compensation, the family that was injured and the family of the passengers that were killed may seek money from the driver at fault, as would be their right. If the car was at fault, everyone involved (or their family) may actually seek compensation from the manufacturer than any other person involved. Now we can see why those cars were brought in for safety inspections. Before fault can be applied, there has to be a thorough investigation of why the driver of the Honda lost control.

So, when you look at a car accident from now on, try not to immediately place the blame. In the event that you’re in an accident yourself, you may be experiencing a whole range of emotions: panic, anger, frustration, pain. Anyone in your situation would be going through the same thing. But imagine the fear if your brakes went out and, without control, you slammed into a wall or another car. The possibilities are endless when it comes to the fickle nature of our vehicles.

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