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Car accidents involving runaway vehicles increase in frequency

A distinctly different kind of vehicular accident is occurring with more frequency both in New York City and nationwide. It involves a driver losing control of the vehicle to the extent that the vehicle goes over the sidewalk and crashes into pedestrians and even storefronts or homes. The operator in such car accidents often claims ignorance as to how he or she lost control, although one fairly predominant reason given is that the gas pedal became stuck and could not be stopped from uncontrollable acceleration.

Occasionally, the cause may be from a vehicular crash on the street that sends one or more cars careening out-of-control into pedestrians and real property. An accident involving a runaway car occurred recently in New York City near West 21st Street and Eighth Avenue in Manhattan. A car jumped the curb, struck several pedestrians and then crashed into a deli, according to witnesses. At least six people were injured and taken to a local hospital, according to the New York City Fire Department.

It is uncertain why or how the driver lost control, but some witnesses reported seeing the vehicle collide with a yellow cab prior to going over the curb. Photos of the car after it crashed into the deli show a woman pinned to its hood with her 13-year-old son looking on and bystanders tending to her. The New York City Police Department stated that both drivers stayed on the scene, which apparently verifies that there was an initial collision prior to the runaway vehicle going over the curb.

The existence of the prior crash between the two vehicles puts a complicated twist on determinations of liability. The yellow taxi may have been negligent in causing that crash, sending the innocent driver out-of-control and onto the sidewalk. Alternatively, the car driver may have negligently crashed into the taxi, freeing the taxi and its ownership from liability for damages to the victims. If both drivers were partially at fault, under the rules of the road applicable to car accidents in New York City, the victims may make claims for damages against both operators, thus having a larger source of insurance coverage available to settle the claims.  

Source: CBS News, "Car crashes into New York City deli, injuring several", Caroline Linton, May 10, 2018

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