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Can a municipal lawsuit be filed after a traffic accident?

Could New York City face municipal liability for failing to respond to residential reports of unsafe traffic sites? A recent legal outcome in Turturro v. City of New York may open the door to more municipal lawsuits.

Specifically, the New York Court of Appeals recently ruled that New York City was partially liable for a traffic accident that left a bicyclist with severe injuries, including brain damage. The city was named as a co-defendant, along with the motorist that struck the bicyclist. The jury in the lower court had apportioned 40 percent liability to New York City; 50 percent liability to the motorist; and 10 percent liability to the bicyclist.

According to the allegations, residents in a Staten Island neighborhood had made repeated pleas to New York City officials for remedial measures to improve traffic safety at the site, such as speed bumps, stop signs, more stop lights or signals. However, the city allegedly ignored all such requests. According to the lawsuit, the lack of safety devices resulted in unsafe roads in that locality, ultimately making it possible for the motorist to be traveling at unsafe speeds when he struck the bicyclist.

New York City has a duty to maintain safe roads. This case may ultimately help communities receive a quicker response to traffic safety concerns. The case may also make it easier for victims of traffic accidents to seek and recover the compensation they need.

Yet when a municipality is named as a defendant, special court procedures and statutory rules apply. The legal strategy may also need to be fine tuned for this type of a defendant. Our New York City personal injury law firm has the experience to file such municipal tort claims against the City of New York.

Source:, “Landmark court decision will benefit Staten Island (commentary),” Daniel Leddy, Jan. 9, 2017

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