Our readers in New York might remember a pedestrian accident from this past summer that garnered a lot of attention. A British tourist who was visiting Rockefeller Center was hit by a taxi that jumped a curb and plowed into her. New Yorkers sprung into action to help her. A plumber who happened to be walking by used his belt to make a tourniquet for her injured leg; Mehmet Oz, namesake of the “Dr. Oz” television show, came down from his office to offer assistance.
The 23-year-old woman survived the August car accident; however, despite the best efforts of those who rushed to her aid, her left leg had to be amputated. Adding insult to injury, prosecutors in New York declined to levy charges against the cab driver. His only punishment was a 30-day suspension that was handed down by the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission.
As a result, the woman has now made a claim against the City of New York for $27.5 million. She argues that because the driver had previous moving violations, that the commission should have kept him off the streets at the time of the accident. This is a losing argument unfortunately and will fail in the courts. The judge must dismiss it because the City has no “special duty”.
This is similar to someone who sues the police department after a crime is committed against them. The police department cannot be held responsible to the aggrieved partyunless the department was providing a special service or made a commitment to that person that rose to the level of “special duty”. Ordinary failures or omissions without more will generally lose in court, unfortunately.
The woman is making a slow but steady recovery. Ideally, her recovery will be able to get a boost with compensation that she will receive from the taxi’s insurance company.
Source: Daily Mail, “British tourist forced to have her leg amputated after New York City cab jumped the curb and hit her is suing the city for $27 million,” Dec. 10, 2013