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NYC pedestrians killed by drivers rarely get criminal justice

If you are a pedestrian or bicyclist in New York City, you take your life into your hands each and every time you attempt to travel the city’s streets. This may sound dramatic, but there are statistics to back it up. A bicyclist or pedestrian is killed in a car accident every 48 hours in NYC.

If you have lost a loved one in a traffic accident caused by a negligent or inattentive driver, you may naturally want to pursue every avenue of justice available. While you can certainly file a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit, you may be surprised by how rarely drivers face criminal charges.

A recent opinion piece in the New York Times was written by a woman named Dana M. Lerner. Her name may not be immediately recognizable, but “Cooper’s Law,” which was passed earlier this summer, bears the name of her 9-year-old son. He was killed by a taxi driver in January. Cooper and his dad were in a crosswalk and had the right of way when an inattentive taxi driver failed to yield during a left turn.

In some respects, the taxi driver’s error seems like an innocent one. But shouldn’t we hold professional drivers to a higher standard? And shouldn’t we expect that all drivers pay more attention in a city with some of the most crowded streets in the world?

Sadly, negligent drivers who kill pedestrians and bicyclists receive citations for careless driving in just under one percent of cases. Actual criminal charges are even rarer, Lerner says. New York police and courts may be overly busy as it is, but surely these deceased pedestrians and bicyclists deserve some justice.

Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration is on a mission to completely eliminate traffic deaths and major injuries within the next 10 years. Unfortunately, this might not be possible without providing a stronger incentive for drivers to pay attention. Criminal charges could send that message loud and clear.

Regardless of how the criminal justice system responds to traffic accidents, victims and their families do have options. If you or a loved one was injured or killed by a negligent driver, please share your story with an experienced personal injury attorney.

Source: The New York Times, “Why Drivers Get Away With Murder,” Dana M. Lerner, Sept. 29, 2014

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