A 20-year-old man succumbed to his injuries a week after he was hit by a car on the Queensboro Bridge. His family has stated that they will be seeking justice on his behalf.
A Tragic Day
Kevin Lopez, a student at a local community college, was riding his bike home from school in August, 2015. Police reports indicate that he was in the bike lane, heading north, when a driver in a Mercedes that was heading west struck him. He was thrown into the windshield of the car and then rolled onto the ground.
He was immediately taken to New York Presbyterian Hospital and treated for his severe head trauma. Despite the best efforts of his doctors, his life was cut short.
His family has reported that his dream was to one day own his own business, and that he was pursuing a business administration degree. His aunt told reporters that the family is “devastated by the loss.”
Bicycling Risks In New York
Anyone who has ever visited New York City understands how congested the streets can become. In order to make a commute the shortest and most effective, many opt to not drive, and instead use alternative methods of transportation. One of the most popular forms is bicycling.
In 2008, the New York City Department of Transportation released a “Sustainable Streets” plan, which included 164 actions that the agency planned to take in order to improve transportation in New York. Part of that plan included measures that the department hoped would double the number of commuters who ride bikes by 2012 and triple that number by 2017. These plans were in fact successful – the number of bicyclists in NYC did double, sooner than expected, in 2011.
In order to achieve these numbers, the plans presented included 90 additional miles of bike lanes added to the streets of the city, and bicycle routes that transverse and connect all of the boroughs. The hope is that with fewer cars on the road and more bicycle designated areas, traffic will be reduced and fewer accidents will happen.
However, some research has shown that the additional bikes lanes may actually result in more accidents and injuries. These studies may be correct, as NY DOT reported that 3,982 bicyclists were injured when they were struck by a motor vehicle in 2014. Another 20 were killed.
In many cases, the loved ones of those who were killed chose to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the party who was at fault.
Wrongful Death Cases
Wrongful death cases allow the estate or surviving family members of the deceased to pursue legal action against the person whose negligence resulted in the accident that caused their loved one’s death. In order for the claim to be valid, the plaintiffs must prove:
- there was in fact a death
- that death was caused by the negligence or intentional acts of the defendant
- there are one or more persons who have suffered as a result of the death
In New York, only the personal representative of the deceased person’s estate can pursue a wrongful death claim. However, that claim can seek damages for losses that the deceased person’s heirs, beneficiaries, and devisees have suffered.
Damages that can be awarded include:
- wages and benefits lost due to the death of the deceased person
- the value and support that would have been provided by the deceased
- pain and suffering experienced by the deceased prior to their death
- any lost inheritance suffered by surviving children
- funeral and burial expenses
The plaintiffs may not seek compensation for their own pain and suffering, emotional trauma, or loss of companionship.
The personal representative has two years from the date of the death to file a wrongful death lawsuit.