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Gair, Gair, Conason, Rubinowitz, Bloom, Hershenhorn, Steigman & Mackauf is a New York Plaintiff's personal injury law firm specializing in automobile accidents, construction accidents, medical malpractice, products liability, police misconduct and all types of New York personal injury litigation.
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accident sceneA 10 year old boy and a 68 year old woman died in two separate truck accidents in New York City last week. Both accidents occurred on the same day.

10 year old boy killed by NYC Sanitation truck

The first accident occurred in Queens last Tuesday around 7:00 am.  10 year old Shreejan Panthee was on his way to school with his mother Mina. Both of them were crossing the 57th Avenue crosswalk near 97th Street in Corona, Queens, when a NYC Sanitation truck made a right turn onto 57th Street from a nearby driveway and struck them. The boy was run over by the rear wheels and the mother was knocked down on the ground.  Both the mother and the child were rushed to the hospital. Shreejan died a few hours later. Her mother Mina was critically injured but survived. A man who witnessed the accident told the media that he screamed at the truck driver: “Slow down, you are going to hit them!”. Mina, her husband Purushottam Panthee and their son Shreejan came from Nepal in 2010. The husband works as a chemist in Long Island and the mother works in a beauty salon in the Bronx. Shreejan was a smart boy who won spelling bee prizes and enjoyed swimming. The Queens Nepali Community was in shock. A vigil was organized at night at the location of the accident. The truck driver wasn’t immediately charged by the police however he was placed on “modified duty,” and stripped of driving responsibilities by the NYC Sanitation Department.

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Injuries or even deaths related to ice falling from buildings in New York City isn’t something new and it is quite common for NYC pedestrians to see sidewalks partially closed during the winter because of the potential risk of ice chunks falling from buildings.

Recently however, entire streets of the city were closed for several days by the police because of massive chunks of ice falling from supertall glass skyscrapers.

https://youtu.be/3MnUmG4UA4I

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6675222117_3499f967c4_3k29 cyclists and 122 pedestrians were among the 219 victims who died in traffic accidents in New York City last year. The yearly number of traffic fatalities in the city increased last year for the first time since Vision Zero was launched in 2014. The year earlier, in 2018, 203 people died in NYC motor vehicle accidents.

Brooklyn had the highest number of fatalities with 74 victims including 18 cyclists and 34 pedestrians. 64 people died in vehicle crashes occurring in Queens. 41 auto accident deaths were recorded in Manhattan, 27 in the Bronx and 6 in Staten Island.  According to  Streetblog, reckless driving remains the main cause of fatal crashes but drivers are rarely charged. It is often difficult to understand why some drivers are charged when others are let off the hook. Among the 148 drivers who killed a pedestrian or a cyclist 76 were not charged. In a tribute to those who have passed in NYC auto accidents, Street Blog listed all the accidents by months with the name of the victims if released, a description of the accident and if the driver was charged or not.

A summary of pedestrian and cyclists fatalities in 2019 by month

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Following the tragic death of  architect Erica Tishman who was killed by falling debris in Times Square, New York two days ago, Inside Edition looked at previous cases of victims struck by falling debris.

They talked to our client Jayson Greene who lost his 2 year old daughter Greta after a brick fell on her. At the time of the accident, Greta was sitting on her grandmother’s lap on a bench in the Upper West Side of Manhattan (see more info in previous blog). Jason  told Inside Edition that no one in New York City should fear for their life when walking in the street. He felt very sad for the family of Erica Tishman who will have to endure the same tragedy his family went through when his daughter was killed.

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Lexus-IS-300 A pedestrian who was standing between two parked cars was crushed to death by one of the car after it was remotely started by its owner. 21 year old Michael Kosanovich was standing between two parked Lexus cars on 148th Street in South Jamaica, Queens, NYC,  Friday night around 10:00 pm when one of them was remotely started by its owner and started to roll forward. Kosanovich was pinned between the Lexus and the other car. Bystanders ran to the rescue and pushed the car back but then the car moved forward again causing additional trauma to the pedestrian.  He suffered critical injuries and died in the hospital the following day.

A driver should never remotely start a vehicle without being aware of its surroundings

The remote engine starter is a common add-on on Lexus cars. It allows the owner to start the engine from outside the vehicle, to activate the air conditioner, the heater or the defroster before the driver gets in the car. The vehicle is not supposed to move after it is being remotely turned on. However, the user manual specifies the following:   “NEVER remotely start the engine if you are unaware of the circumstances surrounding the vehicle as it may cause a life threatening situation for those located in the vehicle’s vicinity.” The police didn’t release the identity of the owner of the Lexus who hasn’t been charged so far even though failure to exercise due care could probably apply to this case.

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Mount-Sinai-HospitalPatient safety, infection control staffing ratio as well as patient boarding and conditions are out of control at the Emergency Room of Mount Sinai Hospital in New York. Executives who 3 years ago hired medical experts to assess the ER department issues, are fully aware of the situation but are doing nothing to improve it. According to former employees at all levels, at Mount Sinai Hospital profit comes before patient safety.  Staffers and doctors who worked there, were so horrified by the conditions of the ER that most of them quit after a few months. Dr. Eric Barton was the head of the emergency department for the Mount Sinai hospital Network for less than a year. He told the New York Post that he had to leave because the organization was not caring for patients. Nurses who quit because of the horrendous wok conditions remember seeing patients going into cardiac arrest without anyone noticing. Patients requiring critical care are often not admitted in the critical care unit timely because it is overloaded. ER Nurses who according to medical safety standards are supposed to care for five to six patients a day are assigned 14 to 18 of them a day.

Globally Mount Sinai has a solid reputation because some excellent doctors work there. It ranks #3 in New York and #14 in the US Best Hospitals Honor Roll of the US News ranking. It also ranks nationally in 9 adult and 5 pediatric specialties. Additionally the hospital was rated a high performer in 4 adult specialties and 7 procedures and conditions. The problem with Mount Sinai is that to access this high ranked care, patients are being parked in very unsafe conditions for up to two days in the emergency room or in the nearby hallways. The conditions are so bad that a worker said the emergency room at Mount Sinai look like Times Square.  While the hospital ranked well in the US News ranking  it ranks very poorly  – 3,874 out of 4,221 hospitals – in term of patient satisfaction on the NY department of Health website.

Shortly after the Post denounced the horrendous conditions at the Emergency Room, Governor Cuomo announced that he had ordered the State Health Department to probe the allegations in the Post.

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the intersection where the fatal accident occurred23 year old Joanna Dixon was killed in a car crash in New York City on the night of her birthday. The young woman was riding in a black Mazda car with another girlfriend and the driver when the accident occurred. The driver of the Mazda blew a stop sign on East 55th Street in East Flatbush, Brooklyn and was T-boned by a speeding white 2019 Nissan GT-R travelling east on Foster Ave. The impact was so strong that the Mazda spun out of control and hit a telephone pole. Debris were scattered all over the place up to a half block away from the intersection.  The driver of the Nissan stayed at the scene of the accident and was identified as Rohan Shaw, an off-duty NYPD officer working for the counter terrorism bureau’s critical command. The police found that the officer was not only speeding but he was also drunk at the time of the accident. He was initially charged charged with reckless driving, speeding, driving while impaired with alcohol, vehicle manslaughter and negligent homicide. However charges were dropped a day after the accident according to a law enforcement source in the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office.The driver of the Mazda took off by foot and hasn’t been found  yet. He left Joanna Dixon dying and her 22 year old best friend critically injured behind him. The accident occurred early Sunday morning just before 5:00 am.  The police have put up a sign at the scene of the crash asking for anyone who witnessed the crash to provide additional information. They are still looking for the driver of the Mazda.

Read more on NBC New York

Picture of the location of the accident: courtesy of Google Map

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burn injuries suffered by Claudette in the botched chemistry experiment18 year old Claudette Joseph and another female student suffered severe burn injuries in a botched chemistry experiment that occurred in October 2018 at the Morris Academy for Collaborative Studies High School for Violin and Dance located in the Bronx, NYC. Our partner Jeffrey Bloom is representing Claudette and recently filed a lawsuit on her behalf.

Claudette was burned in an accident similar to the one suffered by Alonso Yanes, another client from our firm who was represented by Ben Rubionowitz ( read more about this personal injury case). She was part of a group of students attending a so-called “Carbon Snake Experiment”. The experiment consists in burning sugar and baking soda together. As the sugar and the baking soda burn and decompose, carbon dioxide gets trapped within the carbon and creates gas pockets that extend longer and longer like a black snake. Students were gathered around Eric Broussard, the teacher  to look at the experiment. Despite a recent CSB_Back_to_School_Safety_Alert  asking chemistry teachers to use only small quantities of flammable chemicals during experiments, the teacher used a bottle of rubbing alcohol for the experiment. Vapors came out of the opened bottle and ignited in a fireball that severely burned Claudette and another student on their face, torso and hands.

Both students were rushed to the hospital to be treated. Claudette suffered second degrees burns that have left her with permanent scars. The young woman who is an accomplished violonist  is still traumatized by the horrific accident. “This has been extremely traumatic for her and her family,” Jeffrey Bloom told The Post. “Every time she sees these scars, she is reminded of what happened that day.”

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Despite an increase in bicycle accident fatalities and in motorist injuries the total number of NYC motor vehicle accidents and the total number of resulting injuries and deaths decreased during the third trimester of 2019 compared to the third trimester of 2018. The total number of accidents declined from 57,642 during the third trimester of 2018 to 52,567 during the third trimester of 2019. This is the lowest number of crashes since the same period of 2014.

auto accident NYC third trimester 2019
While a high number of fatal bicycle accidents painted a very negative picture of New York street safety, not all numbers are bad. For example pedestrians fatalities were at their lowest during the period of July, August and September 2019. Motorists fatalities were lower than the two previous years during this same period and passengers fatalities were stable.

traffic fatalities in NYC third trimester
The total number of auto accident related injuries were slightly lower than the previous year. A total of 167,083 people were injured in traffic accidents during over the summer 2019 compared to respectively 16,300, 15,860, 16,048, 13,998, 13,472, and 14,900 during the same 3 months of 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014 and 2013. Motorists injuries account for almost half of the injuries and continue to increase. While efforts to protect pedestrians has led to a substantial decrease in pedestrian injuries and deaths, distracted driving remains the number one cause of  motor vehicle accidents in New York City and needs to be addressed.