I was on my way back from a deposition yesterday in lower Manhattan when I was returning to my car which I had parked on the lower East Side. While heading into New York City yesterday morning, I heard on the radio about a fatal accident involving a dump truck that was coming off the Manhattan Bridge toward Canal Street and it somehow, at a high rate of speed, plowed right into a tour bus at the intersection of Canal Street and Bowery. A woman, while walking on the street, was crushed to death by falling debris from the accident. Four other people were injured.
As I approached the intersection of Canal and Bowery, I was shocked at how surreal the scene looked. It literally looked like a movie set that had been cordoned off by police. By the time I got there, the police were still conducting their investigation and taking photographs. Any time there is a traffic fatality, the New York City Police Department sends out specially trained investigators from the Accident Investigation Squad, to determine exactly how the accident happened, and determine the cause of death.
The dump truck that had plowed into the back of the tour bus was being extricated by a massive tow truck. The back of the tour bus was destroyed, and the front of the bus was literally inside the bank building on the corner of Canal and Bowery. Glass was all over the sidewalk. The bus looked like a skeleton with part of its' skin missing. Highway patrol officers and police with lots of stripes on their arms and gold shields were walking the street talking to each other, making sure pedestrians and onlookers didn't get in their way.
What about this woman who, while minding her own business one moment, was crushed to death the next? What will happen to her family and what if she has children? Who will look after them? How will they survive and what will they have to live on? Will they need to depend on the generosity of strangers?
Regardless of why the dump truck barreled down the street and into the bus, don't you think this woman and her family deserve to be compensated for this horrific and tragic loss? She didn't do anything to cause this terrible accident. The bus driver apparently was about to take on passengers and in all likelihood didn't contribute to this accident. So, who should be held to account for the loss of life that happened in this accident? In all probability, the driver of the truck will be held accountable as well as the company he worked for. Who knows what excuse they'll come up with to explain why this enormous truck didn't stop.
In New York, when a wrongdoer causes injury and takes the life of another, he now owes a debt to that person and their family. The only system of compensation we have in New York is to repay that debt to victim's family. That's the only justice that can come of this terrible accident. We cannot bring back this woman to her family. If the wrongdoer is not required to compensate his victim or their family, then he walks away with having caused a terrible tragedy without having repaid his debt to the victim's family. That wouldn't be fair at all.