A New York City school bus driver is facing criminal charges, after he reportedly collided with two cars and a Metro Transit Authority bus, injuring 16 people, before fleeing the scene.
New York City personal injury lawyers are appalled that an individual employed by the school district would act in such a manner, and our thoughts are with the victims and families as they continue their recovery.
News reports indicate that four of those hurt were seriously injured and had to be transported to Forest Hills Hospital.
According to police officials, the 47-year-old driver was trying to make a left turn onto the Horace Harding Expressway off of 108th Street around 2:30 p.m. However, the bus jumped a divider, crashed into a minivan and several other cars and then hit an MTA bus that was heading northbound.
A witness reported that the bus driver was apparently impatient, and did not want to wait for the intersection. Instead, he tried to squeeze his bus between cars to make a left turn. But there were a lot of vehicles on the highway that afternoon, and the turn was impossible to make without causing an accident.
Instead of stopping to assess the damage, as is required by everyone under New York Vehicle & Traffic Code, Section 600, the driver stands accused of leaving the scene. Specifically, the law requires that after an accident, the drivers involved must stop, present his or her license and insurance identification card and wait for law enforcement to arrive.
Violation of this statute calls for a maximum fine of $250 and a jail term of 15 days. But that’s only if the crash in question didn’t injury anyone. If someone has been hurt, the crime may be charged either as a misdemeanor or as a Class E or D felony, which can be punished by maximum sentences of 4 or 7 years, respectively.
In this case, the driver of the bus was stopped by police about two blocks away and charged with fleeing the scene of an accident as a Class E felony, punishable by 4 years in prison.
The identities and ages of those who were hurt were not released, but the transit authority did indicate that most of those who were injured were passengers on the MTA bus.
It’s extremely fortunate that someone wasn’t killed in this crash. Massive vehicles, like buses, have the ability to do enormous amounts of damage. It’s not clear yet if the driver was simply being impatient and then panicked, or whether he was possibly under the influence of some substance. Police haven’t given any indication of the latter.
Regardless, his actions were negligent, and as such, those who suffered injury are entitled to compensation through his employer, which is the school district and by proxy the city. We do imagine he will not likely be employed for long, if he hasn’t already been terminated. However, as he was employed by the city at the time of the crash, the city can still be held liable.
The Law Offices of Nicholas Rose, PLLC offers free consultations. Call 1-877-313-7673.
16 Injured in Queens Bus Crash, Sept. 6, 2012, By Matt Flegenheimer, New York Times City Blog
School Bus Driver Charged in Queens Accident That Injured 16, Sept. 7, 2012, By Paul DeBenedetto, DNAinfo
More Blog Entries:
Queens Accident Watch: 2012 Crash Stats Show It’s No Safer Out There, Aug. 9, 2012, New York City Personal Injury Lawyer Blog