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Deadly Crash In New York With Off Duty Firefighter

November 3, 2014

Drinking to excess has been a firefighter tradition for decades, with many turning a blind eye to the problem. Unfortunately today an off duty White Plains firefighter who was driving while he was so drunk that his blood alcohol level was over double the legal limit, caused a fatal crash. This off duty White Plains firefighter caused a crash which resulted in the wrongful death of a young woman who had her whole life in front of her. The couple who were in the car that the fire fighter crashed into, was up early and working delivering papers, when the incident occurred.

According to reports, the White Plains fire fighter was driving his vehicle the wrong way on South Lexington Avenue, when he crashed into another car at Martine Avenue. Interestingly, this intersection, which is walking distance from our downtown White Plains law office, is right next to the White Plains Police Station and the White Plains criminal court.

The off duty firefighter was charged with criminally negligent homicide, which is a class E felony. Reportedly, the driver’s blood alcohol was .145, but it was only .035 away from being at the level likely to charge him with a higher level, class C felony of Vehicular Manslaughter. The prosecution certainly has a strong case, in light of the fact that the vehicle was traveling in the wrong direction on a one way street. Additionally, the New York Penal Law creates a rebuttable presumption that the intoxication was the cause of the accident.

Likewise, the family of the deceased and the other individual who was injured have a strong case on liability, as always, with high value cases, the issue will be how much insurance is available. In situations where the guilty tortfeasor does not have adequate insurance creative Westchester car accident lawyers have to look to other avenues for coverage. For example, in many cases where the injured party has better insurance than the tortfeasor, they can pursue a supplemental under insured motorist claim against their own insurance company.

In addition to the fire fighter, the bar where he was drinking also has potential civil liability, to the victim’s family. Under New York’s dram shop law, a bar that serves an intoxicated person is jointly and severally liable for the damages which the intoxicated person causes. Our White Plains wrongful death attorneys have extensive experience in handling wrongful death cases involving motor vehicle accidents in New York. While there is a strong public sentiment that the police let the firefighters get away with drinking and driving and generally look the other way, it is a difficult thing to prove. Under the Second Circuit’s decision in the Pena case, where municipal employees create an environment where an employee is allowed to drink and drive routinely without consequence, this can create a Constitutional violation, however to prove this type of case, specific evidence and not just sentiment is required. It is the difference between what can be proven and what many people know to be true intuitively.

The Law Offices of Michael H. Joseph