Does Your Car Insurance Carrier Penalize You When You Were Not At Fault?

accident-frustration1

The Consumer Federation of America recently released new research that shows that safe drivers often see car insurance increases when they are involved in accidents  caused by other drivers.

car_insuranceAccording to the news release, in this new trend, some insurance carriers are penalizing their own customers when their customer did nothing wrong. It used to be that if you were involved in a collision that was not your fault, your own insurance company would not raise your rates. Makes perfect sense. Why should you be penalized when you did nothing wrong?

However, recently, a number of insurance companies decided to increase their profits by hitting their customers with significantly increased premiums when they had the misfortune to be involved in a crash that was not their fault. Two of the biggest New York carriers, Progressive and GEICO, were among the worst offenders of this new policy.

imagesInnocent drivers who don’t cause accidents should not be charged more because someone else hit them, J. Robert Hunter, CFA’s director of insurance and the former insurance commissioner of Texas, said in the news release. “Most people know that if they cause an accident or get a ticket they could face a premium increase, but they don’t expect to be punished if a reckless driver careens into them.”

CFA urged lawmakers around the country to prohibit penalties on innocent drivers. “Penalizing safe drivers hit by another car is not only very unfair; it also discourages them from filing legitimate claims,” Hunter said. “Lawmakers and regulators need to protect consumers from being punished when they’ve done nothing more than use the policy they have already paid for.”

CFA compared two good drivers – the only differences reflected in their socio-economic circumstances rather than their driving records – and found the following:

  • Higher-income drivers paid $78 more on average after a not-at-fault accident.
  • Moderate-income drivers paid $208 more on average after a not-at-fault accident.
  • Higher-income drivers faced a 6.6% penalty on average after a not-at-fault accident.
  • Moderate-income drivers faced a 9.6% penalty on average after a not-at-fault accident.
  • Excluding State Farm customers, who were never penalized, the average surcharges jumped to $99 (8.3%) for higher-income drivers and $264 (12.1%) for moderate-income drivers.

My suggestion: Contact your insurance agent and ask if your carrier has a policy of increasing premiums in not-at-fault crashes?

If so, I recommend you contact other insurance carriers as there are many carriers who do not increase premiums in this situation.

Thanks for reading,

Jim

___________________________________

James B. Reed
NY & PA Injury & Malpractice Lawyer
Ziff Law Firm, LLP
Office: (607)733-8866
Toll-Free: 800-ZIFFLAW (943-3529)
Blogs: NYInjuryLawBlog.com and
            NYBikeAccidentBlog.com

 


Ziff Law Lawyers Fighting In Albany For NY Families

 

tort reform art

Christina Sonsire and Adam Gee of the Ziff Law Firm recently went to Albany to fight for grieving families in New York State – like Craig and Melissa Storms, who lost their 2-year-old son in a hospital emergency room.

“Knowing that the same family could recover if they lived just across the border in Pennsylvania due to its strong wrongful death laws makes it even tougher for us to deal with families in New York,” said Adam Gee.

“Knowing that the same family could recover if they lived just across the border in Pennsylvania due to its strong wrongful death laws makes it even tougher for us to deal with families in New York,” said Adam Gee.

Christina and Adam lobbied with other members of the New York State Trial Lawyers Association in the New York State Legislature to fight for reforming New York’s 153-year-old wrongful death law, something the lawyers at Ziff Law have been doing for nearly a decade.

“We have been to Albany numerous times to fight for justice for those who lose a loved one due to negligence. It’s one battle we will never stop waging until the laws in New York finally improve,” Christina said.

Under the present wrongful death statute in New York, the assessment of damages is based almost exclusively on expected future income, something that is very biased toward the state’s highest-earning residents. Worse, New York is one of only seven states that do not compensate family members for their grief and sorrow.

“The reality is that New York law discriminates against people who are very young, retired or out of the work force, such as stay-at-home parents or people with disabilities,” said Christina Sonsire. “The families of people who are not actively engaged in the work force have little to no claim for wrongful death in New York.”

“The reality is that New York law discriminates against people who are very young, retired or out of the work force, such as stay-at-home parents or people with disabilities,” said Christina Sonsire. “The families of people who are not actively engaged in the work force have little to no claim for wrongful death in New York.”

“The reality is that New York law discriminates against people who are very young, retired or out of the work force, such as stay-at-home parents or people with disabilities,” Christina said. “The families of people who are not actively engaged in the work force have little to no claim for wrongful death in New York.”

Having to tell a family that we cannot take a case because their loved one’s life is worthless in the eyes of New York State law is a very difficult thing to do, Adam said. “Knowing that the same family could recover if they lived just across the border in Pennsylvania due to its strong wrongful death laws makes it even tougher for us to deal with families in New York.”

The tragic case of 2-year-old Zachary Storms highlights the discriminatory nature of New York’s wrongful death law.

Zachary’s story is heartbreaking.

Craig and Melissa Storms rushed their child to a hospital emergency room because they feared he may have ingested some red and blue dye from a child’s chemistry set.

They did all the right things. They consulted with the American Association of Poison Control Centers, which recommended, to be safe, that they take the child to a local hospital for precautionary treatment.

Things turned nightmarish quickly.

The Poison Control Centers urged “observe-only” to the hospital, but instead, the doctor forced young Zachary to drink an activated charcoal solution. He vomited and refused to drink more and the hospital put a gastrointestinal tube down his throat and poured so much liquid that it filled his throat, stomach, and lungs, killing him almost instantly.

“He was running around the emergency room, playing. Then he was dead,” said Melissa Storms.

“This is about justice and holding the people who caused his death accountable,” said Craig Storms.

However, New York’s wrongful death law only values financial loss, not human loss. A toddler, Zachary clearly was not earning any income, and his young age made it too speculative to project what he would make in the future. Therefore, under New York’s current wrongful death law, Zachary’s life was worthless.

When Congress established the Sept. 11th Victim Compensation Fund, it circumvented the law so surviving victims and victims’ families could be properly compensated. “Congress understood New York’s law is antiquated, and doing something like denying compensation to the parents whose children died that day was just wrong,” said Christina.

It’s time for New York State to do the same and take a giant step toward civil justice reform.

The lawyers at the Ziff Law Firm will not stop fighting for families until New York State changes this law.

Contact your local state representative and tell them about Zachary and why it’s important to modernize the state’s wrongful death law.

Thanks for reading.

Jim

___________________________________

James B. Reed
NY & PA Injury & Malpractice Lawyer
Ziff Law Firm, LLP
Office: (607)733-8866
Toll-Free: 800-ZIFFLAW (943-3529)
Blogs: NYInjuryLawBlog.com and
            NYBikeAccidentBlog.com

 


Q&A: Don’t Let Insurance Companies Twist State Law After Motor Vehicle Crashes, Says NY and PA Accident Lawyer

Don't let insurance adjusters mislead you about the comparative negligence rule in New York State.

Don’t let insurance adjusters mislead you about the comparative negligence rule in New York State.

Welcome to the newest feature on our Ziff Law blogs, Questions & Answers.

If you have legal questions, we will try to provide answers here.

Q&A 1While we will answer questions about personal injury, medical malpractice and divorce law, our primary practice areas, we will also be glad to talk about car/motorcycle/truck insurance, medical bills, lost wages, property damage and any legal issue in the news.

If we can’t answer your question, we will refer you to a lawyer with expertise in that particular area.

Submit your questions by email to jreed@zifflaw.com.

Today’s question is from a Twin Tiers resident who received misleading information from an insurance adjuster after a minor car accident.

Question: I was in a car accident yesterday evening. A woman failed to stop at a stop sign and pulled out in front of me, and I struck her vehicle on the front driver side.

I just spoke with my insurance adjuster and she indicated that New York State has a shared responsibility law, or something like that, and that the insurance adjusters determine who was at fault and how much fault each party has.

signThe officer at the scene indicated the woman driving the other vehicle was clearly at fault because she failed to stop at the stop sign and pulled out in front of me.

Why should I have to share responsibility in this accident? There was nothing I could do to avoid the accident. Fortunately, there were no injuries, but I still feel that since she was fully responsible for the accident, her insurance should pay for the repairs to my vehicle.

Why should I have to pay the deductible out of my pocket through my insurance and claim this on my insurance if I was not at fault?

Does New York State really have such a law of shared responsibility, even if one driver is clearly at fault?

Answer: N.Y. does have a comparative negligence rule, which basically means that each party is responsible for their percentage of fault. For instance, if the other driver was 100 percent at fault, the other driver is 100 percent responsible for all damages.

Jim Reed

Jim Reed

On the other hand, if a judge or jury determines that the other driver was 80 percent at fault and you were 20 percent at fault, the other driver (and their insurance company) would only have to pay 80 percent of your damages.

Because New York State is what is called a “pure” comparative negligence state, you can collect from the other driver in direct ratio to their percent of fault, even if they are less than 50 percent responsible. (However, there are some exceptions to this general rule, so I recommend consulting with a lawyer.)

This comparative negligence law makes sense and is logical, but the way in which the insurance carriers often try to apply this law to cases is horrible. Even in cases of absolutely clear liability, where the other driver is 100 percent at fault, the carriers will often try to claim that you were 20 percent, 30 percent, 50 percent at fault, and will refuse to pay 100 percent of your property damage. I have had them do this in rear-ender cases, drunken driving cases, and other clear cases, and they are betting that most people just want to get their property damage check and will not fight them on this.

My advice is to NOT let insurance companies get away with this nonsense. Go talk to a lawyer and see if they can help you with the insurance carrier. Sometimes just the threat of a possible lawsuit over the property damage or personal injury claim is enough to have the carriers not jerk you around regarding the property damage claim.

Depending on the amount of your property damage, you can also take the other driver to Small Claims Court, suing them for 100 percent of the damage they caused.

And finally, you can (and should) file a complaint with the New York State Department of Financial Services (used to be called the N.Y. Insurance Department) about the insurance company’s dirty tactics.

File a complaint here.

Good luck and I wish you the best in fighting the good fight!

Jim
_________________________________

James B. Reed
NY & PA Injury & Malpractice Lawyer
Ziff Law Firm, LLP
Office: (607)733-8866
Toll-Free: 800-ZIFFLAW (943-3529)
Blogs: NYInjuryLawBlog.com and
            NYBikeAccidentBlog.com

Witness Recalls Heartbreaking First Moments After Crash That Killed Former Twin Tiers Residents

Roegester Grays

Roegester Grays

An Elmira man who witnessed the horrific crash last March in Bradford County that killed a former Chemung County couple gave heartbreaking details of the first moments after the crash Wednesday in a District Court in Troy.

I was in the courtroom for the testimony of Anthony Amentler, who told the court about finding the three injured sons of Ryan and Karen English crying in their crumpled car, and a beer can falling out of the back seat of the car driven by Roegester Grays of Lawrenceville, who has been charged with DUI Homicide and many other charges in the March 1 accident that has devastated the families of Ryan and Karen and their hundreds of friends.

Read the Star-Gazette story about the testimony here.

Our law firm is representing the estate of Karen English and their three children. This is one of the saddest and most tragic cases I have ever been involved with. It is cases like this that make me proud to be a lawyer.

State police said Grays, driving a 2004 Chevrolet Avalanche, crossed the center line on state Route 328 in Wells Township, near the New York-Pennsylvania border, and struck a 2012 Chevrolet Suburban driven by Ryan English, 35. Ryan and Karen, 32, were killed instantly in the head-on crash. The Englishes had recently moved to the Williamsport area and were returning home to visit family in the Elmira area when the crash happened.

Grays is facing the following charges:

  • Two counts of Aggravated Assault.
  • Two counts of Homicide by Vehicle with DUI.
  • Two counts of Aggravated Assault by Vehicle with DUI.
  • Two counts of Homicide by Vehicle.
  • Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol or Controlled Substance.
  • Possession of a Controlled Substance.
  • Traffic Violations.

In testimony Wednesday, Amentler said he was driving behind the English family as they approached Elmira when he saw Grays’ truck approach the Englishes’ vehicle in the wrong lane. Ryan English swerved into the left lane to avoid Grays’ truck, but Grays swerved back into the left lane, leading to the collision.

“I knew something good wasn’t going to happen, so I locked up my brakes,” Amentler said.

The English vehicle landed on its roof in a ditch and Grays’ vehicle spun and stopped on the right side of the road.

Amentler testified that he drove past the accident scene and parked, then went to check on the English boys crying in the vehicle. He called out to Ryan and Karen English but they did not respond.

When Amentler checked on Grays, a beer can fell out of the back seat but Grays appeared to be OK. Amentler said he did not know whether the can was empty or full.

A state trooper who interviewed Grays at Arnot Ogden Medical Center in Elmira said he detected the scent of alcohol on Grays’ breath and arrested Grays, who agreed to have his blood tested.

Blood test results showed Grays had .065 percent blood-alcohol content at 9:20 p.m., about four hours after the accident. The legal limit for driving is .08 percent.

Troopers also found a prescription muscle relaxer pill and an unsmoked marijuana cigarette in Grays’ vehicle, and Grays told authorities he also takes a blood thinner, according to testimony.

Grays has a history of convictions for alcohol-related driving offenses in New York and Pennsylvania. Most recently, he was indicted In April by a Chemung County grand jury on two felony counts of Operation of a Motor Vehicle While Under the Influence of Alcohol and one count each of first-degree Aggravated Unlicensed Operation of a Motor Vehicle and seventh-degree Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance.

When the crash occurred, Grays was free on bail on a charge of driving while intoxicated in Chemung County, Grays testified. One of the conditions of the bail was that he not drink alcohol, he testified.

Judge Jonathan Wilcox ordered no reduction in bail for Grays, which is set at $200,000. “My issue is the defendant has a severe drinking problem that we can’t control,” Wilcox said, according to the Star-Gazette, noting that there could be a public safety problem if Grays were to get out on bail.

Grays is next scheduled to appear on Oct. 28 in Bradford County Court.

Anyone with any information to share about the crash or Grays’ whereabouts on the day of the crash is urged to call me at the Ziff Law Firm (607-733-8866), where there is a 24-hour answer service.

Thank you for reading.

Christina Sonsire
csonsire@zifflaw.com

 


Driver In Fatal PA Crash Faces Multiple Charges, Including DUI Homicide, Says NY and PA Accident Lawyer Representing Victim, Three Children

Roegester Grays

Roegester Grays

The Twin Tiers community should breathe a collective sigh of relief knowing that a very dangerous driver is finally behind bars.

The Lawrenceville, Pa., man who was involved in a head-on crash that killed a young married couple who were traveling with their three young children has been charged with DUI Homicide and many other charges in the March 1 crash in Bradford County.

Read the Star-Gazette story here.

State police in Towanda said Roegester Grays, 45, is facing the following charges:

  • Two counts of Aggravated Assault.
  • Two counts of Homicide by Vehicle with DUI.
  • Two counts of Aggravated Assault by Vehicle with DUI.
  • Two counts of Homicide by Vehicle.
  • Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol or Controlled Substance.
  • Possession of a Controlled Substance.
  • Traffic Violations.

State police said Grays, driving a 2004 Chevrolet Avalanche, crossed the center line on state Route 328 in Wells Township, near the New York-Pennsylvania border, and struck a 2012 Chevrolet Suburban driven by Ryan English, 35. Ryan and his wife, Karen, 32, were killed in the head-on crash and their three children were injured.

Although Mr. Grays’ arrest will not bring Karen and Ryan back, it helps ease their family’s pain to know he will not be able to harm anyone else right now.

The English family had recently moved from Chemung County to the Williamsport area and were returning home to visit relatives when the accident occurred.

Grays has a history of convictions for alcohol-related driving offenses in New York and Pennsylvania. Most recently, he was indicted In April by a Chemung County grand jury on two felony counts of Operation of a Motor Vehicle While Under the Influence of Alcohol and one count each of first-degree Aggravated Unlicensed Operation of a Motor Vehicle and seventh-degree Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance.

In May, a tip line was established to assist the Pennsylvania State Police with their investigation into the crash. Our law firm is representing the estate of Karen English along with the three children.

The help we received from the community through the tip line was invaluable. We were able to take statements from numerous eyewitnesses to the crash who had not been previously identified, and we immediately shared all of that information with law enforcement in Towanda. We received many tips about Mr. Grays’ whereabouts in the hours before the crash as well. People were eager to share what they knew.

Ryan and Karen’s three sons are doing remarkably well, given all they have been through. They are all attending school in Chemung County and have recovered greatly from their physical injuries. The emotional healing will take a bit longer, but they are blessed to have the support of family and friends here and in the Williamsport area.

The community support for these three boys has been amazing. The willingness to donate money, share information and help in any way possible reminds us that we are all fortunate to live in a place that truly takes care of its own.

Although the tip line has been suspended, anyone with any information to share about the crash or Grays’ whereabouts on the day of the crash is urged to call me at the Ziff Law Firm (607-733-8866), where there is a 24-hour answer service.

Thank you for reading,

Christina Sonsire
csonsire@zifflaw.com


NY Finally Closes Loophole In Drunken Driving Charges, Says NY and PA Accident Lawyer

Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has signed a new law that makes it a felony to drive drunk while using a conditional license.

Drivers who lose their license may receive a conditional license that allows them to go on limited trips to school, work and medical appointments.

Surprisingly, driving drunk on a revoked license was already a felony, but doing it on a conditional license has been only a traffic infraction.

While I am critical of many new laws that do little or nothing, this law does serve a purpose and address a problem.  As a former prosecutor I have seen many circumstances where an individual spiraled out of control and was arrested for DWI 2 or even 3 times in a very short period of time.  While a second DWI conviction within 10 years of the first DWI conviction is a felony, multiple DWI’s committed before there is a conviction on the first are all just misdemeanors.  This situation is addressed somewhat by laws making it a felony to operate a motor vehicle while intoxicated and while your right to drive is suspended or revoked for a DWI, it doesn’t apply to those individuals who are granted a conditional license while their case is still pending.

Anyone who is already charged with a DWI and is lucky enough to get a conditional license, but is so out of control that they get a second DWI while the first one is still pending, will now face a class E felony and the possibility of State Prison.

To learn more about New York’s drunken driving laws, go here. For Pennsylvania’s laws, which are entirely different than NY’s, go here.

Thanks for reading.

Adam
__________________________________________

Adam M. Gee, Esq.
NY and PA Injury and Malpractice Attorney
The Ziff Law Firm, LLP
303 William Street
Elmira, NY  14901
Phone: (607)733-8866
Fax: (607)732-6062
Email: agee@zifflaw.com

 

 


School Bus Driver’s Arrest On DWI Charge Should Be Wake-Up Call For Parents, Says NY And PA Injury Lawyer

The arrest of an Upstate New York school bus driver for driving drunk should serve as a reminder for all parents in the Twin Tiers that they need to get to know the drivers who transport their children every day. And be sure your children know they can speak up to you if they see the driver acting in an unusual or dangerous manner!

coynemanon

Manon Coyne.

Manon Coyne, of Livingston County, was arrested for driving drunk on July 8 . Her blood-alcohol level was a shocking .24 percent, three times the legal limit, when she was stopped, police said.

Fortunately, police arrested Coyne before she was involved in any accident.

See news stories here and here.

This kind of thing happens too often. I personally handled a case against a local bus driver and the Campbell Savona School District she worked for when she drove a bus full of kids off a road and into a culvert and injured several students.

These types of stories are in the news across the country all too often. It’s up to parents to be vigilant and get to know the bus drivers.

According to news reports in this case:

  • Coyne had just safely transported five students from Geneseo when police said she drove up to a house where police had found a 49-year-old man with alcohol poisoning.
  • The five students on the bus ranged in age from 7 to 19, police said.
  • Coyne was arraigned on five counts each of felony DWI and Child Endangerment under Leandra’s Law in New York, which makes the DWI charge an automatic felony on the first offense when the person is driving drunk with a child or children 15 or younger.
  • The school district has placed Coyne on an unpaid administrative leave, Superintendent Tim Hayes told The LIvingston County News. “The school will aid the sheriff’s investigation any way we can, but we will also do our own disciplinary investigation,” he said, adding that Coyne was a regular driver for the district.
  • Deputies also arrested Gabrianna J. Allen-Reitter, 19, of Rochester, on Third-Degree Criminal Possession Of A Controlled Substance and Resisting Arrest charges at the same house that morning.

Parents, you can’t ensure your child’s safety every day, but vigilant parents held reduce the chance that your child will be in an accident with an impaired bus driver.

Thanks for reading, and please check on your school bus drivers when school resumes for your kids.

Adam
__________________________________________

Adam M. Gee, Esq.
NY and PA Injury and Malpractice Attorney
The Ziff Law Firm, LLP
303 William Street
Elmira, NY  14901
Phone: (607)733-8866
Fax: (607)732-6062
Email: agee@zifflaw.com

 


Maps Of Road Fatalities A Reminder Of Toll Of Distracted Driving, Says NY and PA Accident Lawyer

Check out where fatal accidents have occurred in your community in recent years.

A United Kingdom transportation company has created a website that allows anyone to track road fatalities in the United States by location, including in Elmira, Corning and the Twin Tiers.

You can find the exact scene of an accident that led to a death between 2001 and 2009. I drilled down to the local fatalities in Elmira, Horseheads, and Corning and learned that I handled a large number of the wrongful death cases displayed on the local map.

I have worked on many cases in the last 26 years, and each of the little dots is a reminder of what I know to be devastated family and friends. … The 14-year-old cyclist mowed down by a hit-and-run driver, the elderly pedestrian hit by a driver who admitted she was busy adjusting her radio and on and on ….

It’s very unsettling and sad.

But it’s important that everyone take a look at the map of their community. Notice where people died when you look at the map of Chemung County — Lower Maple Avenue in Elmira, County Route 64 in Big Flats, Interstate 86 and the Miracle Mile (Corning Road) in Horseheads. Look at the grouping of fatalities, on I-86, Route 352 and Route 64. Those are high-traffic areas where everyone should be their most vigilant. Those should be no-distraction zones, and that means turning the radio or CD down, too!

Some of the fatalities were pedestrians, some were drivers or their passengers, and some were on motorcycles or bikes. Yes, it’s important to know where the most dangerous spots are in Watkins Glen and Southport and Pine City, then south to Towanda, Sayre and Athens, Wellsboro and Mansfield.

But there is a larger lesson here.

The maps serve as a stark reminder to all of us to SLOW DOWN and PAY ATTENTION TO THE ROAD. Shut off the cell phone. Cut down the chatter. Be vigilant. Live in the present.

Respect the lives of others, and be mindful of the dangers around you. Distracted driving kills. Next time you’re on the road, think of the people lost in accidents on that map.

Please have a safe and joyous holiday season free of heartbreaking accidents.

Thanks for reading.

Thanks, Jim

_________________________________

James B. Reed
NY & PA Injury & Malpractice Lawyer
Ziff Law Firm, LLP
Mail to: jreed@zifflaw.com
Office: (607)733-8866
Toll-Free: 800-ZIFFLAW (943-3529)
Web: www.zifflaw.com
Blogs: NYInjuryLawBlog.com and
NYBikeAccidentBlog.com


Elmira Woman Killed In Reported Drunk Driving Crash, NY And Pa Accident Lawyer Says

State police said a Texas man was driving drunk when he killed an Elmira woman Friday.

This is just what many in the area feared when the influx of out-of-state gas workers began — an increase in the number of alcohol-related accidents. Now I certainly don’t mean to stereotype or malign every gas worker, but there is a sizable number of new workers in the area who work long hours, make a good wage, who are far from home, and who want to blow off some steam during the hours they aren’t working.

It looks like the volatile mixture of alcohol and driving resulted in the tragic death of an Elmira woman ….

WETM and the Star-Gazette have reported that Lauralee M. Widmer, 36, of Elmira, and formerly of Louisiana, was killed early Friday morning in a two-vehicle accident in Tioga County, Pa.

State police said Brandon C. Davidson, 32, of Perryton, Texas, was driving a pickup truck shortly before 8 a.m. Friday in Jackson Township when he lost control of his truck and crossed the center line on the two-lane highway, striking a sport utility vehicle driven by Widmer.

Police said Widmer was wearing a seat belt and Davidson, who suffered only minor injuries, was not wearing a seat belt.

Widmer was pronounced dead at the scene and Davidson was treated for minor injuries at a Wellsboro hospital and released.

Davidson was charged with Homicide by Vehicle While Driving Under the Influence, Driving Under the Influence, Driving on the Wrong Side of the Road, Speeding, Careless Driving, Reckless Driving and Not Wearing a Seat Belt, according to the Star-Gazette.  He was arraigned and sent to the county jail in lieu of $75,000 cash bail.

Given the very aggravated circumstances of this collision– the drunken driving, the recklessness, the speeding, etc.– Widmer’s Estate could bring not only a wrongful death lawsuit but could also assert a claim for punitive damages.  Punitive damages are not permitted in all injury lawsuits but are limited to those lawsuits where it can be proven that the defendant’s conduct was grossly negligent, reckless and showed a conscious disregard for the rights of others.  The general standard in New York for punitive damages is reckless conduct or grossly negligent conduct that endangers the health, safety and well-being of the public.  NY Pattern Jury Instructions, 2:278.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to Widmer’s family.

Thanks for reading.

Jim
__________________________________________

James B. Reed
NY & PA Injury & Malpractice Lawyer

Ziff Law Firm, LLP
Mailto: jreed@zifflaw.com
Office: (607) 733-8866
Toll-Free: 800-ZIFFLAW (943-3529)
Web: www.zifflaw.com
Blogs: NYInjuryLawBlog.com and
NYBikeAccidentBlog.com