Most car accidents in New York have a reasonably simple explanation. The driver was drunk, distracted, overtired, driving too fast, driving carelessly or recklessly, failed to stop for a red light or at a stop sign.
Sometimes the occupants of the vehicle are injured or killed, and at other times completely innocent people are affected. They could be passengers in the vehicle at fault, the occupants of another vehicle or simply pedestrians or cyclists who just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time and were hit.
There are also those occasions when the cause of the accident seems inexplicable.
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An example is the very recent death of Louis Benjamin, a barber who lived in Queens. He attended his niece’s graduation party last Sunday and then drove home alone in his car, followed by his brother who was driving his own car. Benjamin seems to have suddenly lost control of the vehicle, which veered off the road and crashed right through a fence and on to the front steps of a house on Hook Creek Boulevard. The accident happened in the early hours of the morning – around 5 a.m. – and the impact was enough to shake the building and wake the occupants.
The driver of the 2001 Acura sedan died at the scene, despite efforts by the people living in the house to try and help him out of the car, which was reported to be giving off sparks.
At this stage, there is no indication why Louis Benjamin lost control of his car. It is possible that he was just tired and fell asleep. Perhaps he had been drinking after the graduation event. It may be also possible that there was something wrong with the car. Did it suffer from some sort of defect which caused the brakes or steering to fail?
Benjamin’s family is not surprisingly devastated by the death. He is reported to be a devoted father of his 8-year-old son and his immediate family will have not only lost a father and husband, but now may also be very much worse off financially. Finding out the cause of the accident will help the family to come to some sort of closure in time.
Although vehicle defects are not a common cause of accidents on the roads, this possibility will have to be investigated through a careful examination of the car before this idea is discarded.
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If the car was indeed defective in some way, this may present an opportunity for the family to file a wrongful death lawsuit for compensation for the death of the Acura driver, but this is not an easy task. It would be possible only if the defect were definitely identified and linked to an individual or company other than Mr. Benjamin himself – for example, a garage that had recently repaired the car or a parts manufacturer or supplier that supplied a defective part.
Bearing in mind that there is a time limit during which a wrongful death lawsuit can be filed in New York State, any family member who has lost a loved one as a result of an accident which was due to the negligence of others should contact a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible after the accident. Most personal injury lawyers will provide a free consultation in which the accident can be discussed and an opinion given on the feasibility of a lawsuit being successful or even whether it is possible.
Richard S. Jaffe Esq. is such a lawyer and can be contacted for a free consultation at the Law Offices of Cohen & Jaffe LLP, 2001 Marcus Avenue, Suite W295, Lake Success, NY 11042. Phone: 516-358-6900 or toll free: 800-483-6149.