Mayor Bill de Blasio created a “Vision Zero” plan aimed at eliminating traffic fatalities. Among the new regulations passed by Mayor de Blasio, a new misdemeanor charge was created called “failure to exercise ‘due care.’”
Administrative Code Section 19-190 laid out the definition of a failure to exercise due care, as well as the potential penalties to be imposed upon conviction. The creation of this new charge was intended to “give some teeth” to the bundle of laws that made up the Vision Zero plan, according to DNA Info.
Unfortunately, Transportation Alternatives released a “scathing report” recently indicating that the District Attorneys’ offices in the city have dodged their responsibilities and failed to seek justice for victims of traffic accidents.
Few motorists have actually been charged with killing pedestrians, and district attorneys are not turning over the data on the total number of prosecutions against drivers who have killed walkers and bicycle riders. Unfortunately, if prosecutors fail to pursue criminal charges, Vision Zero will not have the desired deterrent effect.
While drivers who kill walkers may escape criminal charges, they should not escape civil liability. New York City injury attorneys can help crash victims pursue claims to obtain compensation for wrongful death or serious injury after a driver causes a pedestrian or bicycle crash to occur. Victims should consult with an experienced attorney as soon as possible so they can get help pursuing a case.
The new misdemeanor law, failure to exercise due care, was supposed to apply in situations where a pedestrian crash occurred but was not linked to more serious criminal charges, like impaired driving. The maximum penalty could include a $250 fine and up to 30 days of imprisonment. It took effect two years ago.
Since that time, only 15 percent of drivers who have killed bike riders or pedestrians ended up being charged. As DNA Info reported, there have been 205 pedestrians and bike riders killed by drivers citywide since December 14, 2015.
Just 31 drivers who were involved in these fatal crashes ended up being charged with the new Vision Zero misdemeanor. There were 10 drivers charged in Brooklyn, 10 in Queens, 9 in Manhattan, and 2 in the Bronx. In Staten Island, although there were 7 deaths, no drivers ended up charged with a misdemeanor.
Many drivers had their cases dismissed, and 14 of the drivers who were initially arrested only got tickets. Even city bus drivers who were arrested for killing pedestrians and bikers have not been arraigned although more than a year has passed since the drivers caused fatal crashes.
Drivers are also not being charged for injuring pedestrians. Only 10 drivers total were charged for striking and injuring pedestrians and bicycle riders, even though over 20,000 walkers and bicyclists have been injured.
Clearly, drivers are getting away with causing accidents and not facing penalties. DNA Info spoke to a woman whose son had been fatally hit by a taxi driver. She noted that: “If there’s no consequences, there’s no reason to follow laws.” Prosecutors indicate that it is often difficult to prove criminal charges in many accident cases, as the actions of drivers are not always illegal.
Civil lawsuits have a lesser standard of proof for drivers to be held liable than criminal cases do, and a civil lawsuit against a driver who causes a death or injury can be successful even if the driver is just negligent and does not commit a crime.
That being the case, crash victims should speak with skilled injury attorneys so at least they can make a civil case to get compensation, even if the drivers do not end up facing criminal prosecution when they cause a crash to occur. Contact Rosenberg, Minc, Falkoff & Wolff today to discuss your case.