Manhattan, NY — On February 11, 2019, a 70-year-old woman was seriously injured after being struck and dragged by an MTA bus in Manhattan.
Authorities say the incident happened around 9:30 a.m. at the intersection of Second Avenue and East 36th Street. The woman was reportedly walking north on Second Avenue and entered the street to cross 36th when he was hit by a Q44 bus making a left turn. Her foot became caught under the wheel and the bus dragged her 20 to 30 feet before coming to a stop.
The pedestrian was taken to the hospital in serious condition. The bus driver remained on scene after the accident.
Police continue to investigate the incident.
Map of the Area
Based on news reports, it looks like the bus involved is probably operated by the local government (unless some private entity decided to do business as “Mass Transit Authority,” which is unlikely). If the victim of this accident sought remedy from the driver’s employer–the city of New York–there would be additional layers of complexity on top of the difficulties that are generally associated with pursuing a case against a commercial vehicle driver.
For a long time, governments operated with a great deal of legal protection from lawsuits. This protection, called sovereign immunity, reaches back to the days where monarchs were in charge and no grievance against them or those acting on their behalf was considered valid.
America never had much use for kings, but sovereign immunity was considered a valid protection for governments on the theory that they’d never get anything else done if they were always beholden to the claims of the governed. So long as a government agent or employee was acting on the government’s behalf, anyone they harmed had no case.
Eventually this policy was modified, though it wasn’t abandoned completely. Under certain circumstances and with certain prerequisites, those hurt by the government and its employees are now allowed to seek remedy. Because the government handles the laws that apply to these suits, though, they are often loaded with inconvenient deadlines and pitfalls that, if mishandled, will cause the case to be dismissed.
While it’s not mandatory to seek assistance with these cases, it doesn’t take long for a victim to get lost in the weeds if they choose to go it alone. For instance, not only would the victim in Manhattan be burdened with proving that the bus driver was negligent in causing her injuries, but she would also need to have known she had to file a notice of claim within a limited length of time after the crash. Having the right allies, who know about the twists and turns of legal action against a bureaucratic body, can be an invaluable tool.
–Grossman Law Offices