Over a month’s time, three pedestrians have died on New York sidewalks from motor vehicles gone astray. The victims include a 90-year-old man, a 16-year-old boy and Martha Atwater, an Emmy-winning TV producer. In each pedestrian collision, the driver has not been charged with any crime.
The New York Police Department stated that it will soon begin describing “accidents” as “collisions” because the former term implies an event that’s devoid of criminality. However, it’s still the same old song and dance. Three drivers negligently jumped curbs and ended the lives of some extraordinary people, yet they won’t have to defend themselves against criminal charges.
The negligent drivers will only face culpability if the victims’ families decide to file a wrongful death lawsuit against them. In a wrongful death claim, the surviving family members can recover money damages if they prove that the defendant acted negligently or wrongfully.
While a lawsuit cannot bring a loved one back, it allows the family to place the financial burden of the death upon the at-fault party and achieves some sense of justice. The NYPD has made it clear; it doesn’t believe that finding justice for pedestrian accident victims is part of its duties.
Source: New York Post, “Drivers Who Hit People On Sidewalks Not Being Prosecuted,” Rebecca Harshbarger, March 25, 2013