A Long Island grandmother lost her life following a car crash in an area that is well known for frequent collisions.
This wreck happened in Bay Shore on a notorious stretch of Crooked Hill Road that has no functioning traffic control devices. Wilson Nieves, a 33-year-old resident of Brentwood NY, did not have a valid license and was reportedly speeding when he slammed into a car that was carrying a Maria Alfaro, a 52-year-old babysitter and grandmother. Alfaro was seriously injured in the wreck and was subsequently rushed to a nearby hospital. Doctors later declared her dead at the hospital.
Following the serious auto accident, several residents said that the area was dangerous. “A lot of people have been dying over here for years and years, and they don’t do nothing,” remarked Bay Shore resident Roberto Marcussis. After numerous complaints, the city finally installed a traffic light at a nearby intersection as a traffic calming measure, but neighbors say that the light is not operational and that no one slows down.
“We’ve got to do something about this, OK?” Marcussis concluded.
Government officials are usually immune from liability lawsuits that stem from the actions they take, or actions they fail to take. Centuries ago, this idea made sense since the king or queen was believed to have been chosen by God and therefore was incapable of making the wrong choice. As a result, so went the thinking, any lawsuit against the ruling entity would be pointless. In today’s democracies, sovereign immunity survives because allowing liability lawsuits would mean that government officials could be sued for almost anything they do, or do not do, that harms someone in some tangible manner.
Typically, sovereign immunity only applies to governmental functions that require official discretion, such as the decision regarding whether or not to erect a traffic control device. Immunity from liability does not apply to ministerial functions that require no discretion, such as:
- Providing 911 and Utility Services: Sometimes, emergency response times can be so long or power line repair can be so neglected that the government has arguably denied services to its citizens.
- Maintaining Traffic Lights: Activating a traffic light that has already been approved and installed is a ministerial function, just like changing the light bulbs on streetlights and repairing large potholes.
- Medical Care to Prisoners: Anyone in custody for any reason has a right to prompt and effective medical treatment.
If the government failed to follow through with a ministerial function, the state is arguably liable for the plaintiff’s damages. Special procedures often apply in these cases.
The government must be responsive to the people. In some cases, that means facing liability lawsuits. For a free consultation with aggressive Manhattan personal injury attorneys, contact Proner & Proner today. Mr. Proner is AV-rated because of his high level of legal expertise.