A runaway car in the Bronx killed three trick-or-treaters, and authorities suspect that the driver experienced a seizure or some other loss of consciousness.
The victims were members of two extended families. 65-year-old Luis Perez was killed, along with his 9-year-old granddaughter Nyanna Aquil. 24-year-old Kristan Leka was also killed; one witness said that he pushed his 9-year-old sister out of the way in the moments just before impact. The driver, 57-year-old Harold Unger, lost control of his vehicle, smacked into another car, crashed through a metal fence, and then flipped onto the sidewalk. Another witness saw a torso in the street and was unsure whether it was real or a Halloween decoration.
Three other people were injured and rushed to local hospitals.
New York State reviews the cases of all drivers who may have issues with “loss of consciousness, loss of awareness or loss of body control.” The DMV’s Medical Review Unit, which includes licensed health professionals, discusses the situation with drivers, reviews relevant documents, and suspends or revokes the drivers’ licenses of persons who do not provide information in a timely manner or provide unacceptable documentation.
The primary flaw in this system is that it is nearly entirely dependent on self-reporting. Unless the drivers themselves come forward, or they go to the emergency room or contact a doctor, the DMV will probably never know there is a problem. And, as the above story illustrates, even a momentary loss of control can have tragic consequences.
To establish impairment by medical condition in the absence of DMV action, a plaintiff has several options:
- Review the defendant’s medical records to look for any evidence of a dangerous medical condition,
- Look for a family history of epilepsy, stroke, heart attack, or other condition,
- Find witnesses who will testify about a prior episode, or
- Use facts from the crash itself, like a sudden acceleration or loss of control, which raise the possibility of a medical condition.
The plaintiff must show that the defendant had a medical condition by a preponderance of the evidence, which means more likely than not. Picture two equally-sized stacks of paper. If one sheet is moved from the left to the right, one stack is higher than the other.
Certain medical conditions are relevant in car crash cases. For a free consultation with attorneys who fight for fair compensation, contact our office. We have six locations in New York State.