I was bike riding today on Glen Cove Road in Roslyn, NY, during a twenty mile ride. While riding with traffic on the extreme shoulder of the road heading South, I was struck with the realization that the cars and trucks driving within two feet of me was totally unnerving. Some might think that a 'buffer-zone' of only two feet is a zone of danger, and I'd agree. That's the last time I'll be bicycle riding on that road.

The reason I mention the 'zone of danger' is because it is a legal principle that allows a family member to recover money when their loved one suffers a horrific accident, provided you are within a 'zone of danger' to observe the terror and horror of the accident and the injuries that flow from that trauma. 

If you get hurt while bike riding, the driver of the car, bus or truck that hit you might be totally at fault for causing your accident. While it may also be true that you were in a dangerous area of roadway, that legal principle of being in a 'zone of danger' would not apply to you. Instead, you may seek compensation for your injuries for the negligence of the driver who hit you. 

However, the 'zone of danger' rule applies to someone who is with you, within sight of you; within touching distance of you who witnessed the tragedy. This legal concept allows that family member to recover money for the emotional horror and psychological injuries they may endure as a result of watching their loved one become terribly mangled and permanently injured.


That is another legal concept that lawyers use to show that someone who was in an accident was able to know, in minutes, seconds or moments before the impending accident that the impact was inevitable. It is that moment in time when your life flashes before you and you want to say everything you never had a chance to say to your loved ones; when you know you may not survive; when you realize that your time has come and you may not be going home. 

Another name for 'Fear of impending doom' is known as 'pre-impact terror'. These concepts are firmly entrenched in the personal injury area of law in New York. When there has been a serious accident or even a death from an accident, the facts may support a claim for 'pre-impact terror'. What do I mean?

When an ambulance attendant arrives on the accident scene and talks with your loved one, the bicyclist who now is crushed under the wheels of a truck, and they are crying, in pain, or gasping for breath with terror-stricken eyes, those factual observations allow a personal injury lawyer in New York to fairly claim that the victim had conscious pain and suffering, and knew that their life was about to end. The victim who blurts out in gasps to the ambulance attendant "He blew through that red light...I couldn't stop..." will allow an attorney to claim the victim had a fear of impending doom prior to the accident. 

Both of these legal concepts allow a victim and their family to properly claim compensation for pain and the suffering they suffered at the hands of a negligent driver.
Gerry Oginski
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NY Medical Malpractice & Personal Injury Trial Lawyer