In 2014, nine-year-old Cooper Stock was hit and killed by a yellow cab driver on the Upper West Side. The child and his father had the right of way, but the cab driver was not paying attention and failed to yield.
Despite this, the driver was able to keep his license and continue driving for the city. Moreover, he was not charged with criminal negligence, even though video footage and witness testimony overwhelmingly blame him for the child’s death.
Why? He didn’t commit enough misdemeanors to be brought to court. He was saved by New York’s “Rule of Two.”
What Is The Rule of Two?
Imagine this situation. Someone hits another person with their car and kills them. Of course, questions are raised about the driver’s role in the accident.
Rather than immediately asking if they were negligent, New York looks to what the driver was doing wrong. The driver may have been speeding, running a red light, or texting while driving. If these offenses don’t add up to two misdemeanor crimes, the driver will not have to face criminal negligence charges.
This is the Rule of Two.
Basically, a driver who kills someone else has to be charged with two misdemeanors before they can be made to face criminal negligence charges. Running a red light and killing someone isn’t enough to bring criminal negligence charges. Texting while driving and hitting a cyclist isn’t enough to bring criminal negligence charges. Technically, you could be driving blindfolded and kill someone without being charged with criminal negligence as long as you were following the rest of the rules of the road.
Yes, the Rule of Two is kind of ridiculous and insane.
Rule of Two, Meet Cooper’s Law
Let’s go back to the story of Cooper Stock. His mother decided to fight back against the rules that protect taxi drivers in New York. A new law, named after her son, was passed as a part of Mayor de Blasio’s Vision Zero.
Vision Zero was meant to eliminate traffic deaths and injuries throughout New York City. Cooper’s Law allows the Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) to suspend a driver’s license if they are involved in a fatal crash or one that causes critical injury. The law also requires the TLC to revoke the license of a driver who is convicted of a traffic violation or crime related to the accident.
Cooper’s Law took affect in 2014. In 2015, 35 TLC drivers were involved in fatal crashes or crashes that resulted in serious injuries. While at least two drivers were charged with crimes, from traffic violations to manslaughter, the official number was not released. We do know that the TLC only suspended 12 drivers’ licenses, and revoked none.
Better? Yes. Good enough? Not even close. Cooper’s Law was written to take negligent cab drivers off of the street, but all of the evidence makes it seem like the TLC isn’t complying with the law. What can be done?
Fight Back against Bad Drivers
The lack of accountability and penalties for TLC drivers who cause fatal accidents is frustrating and terrifying. How horrible is it to think that you or a loved one could be hit and killed by a negligent driver and that driver would likely face minimal criminal consequences?
Luckily, there is another way to fight back. If you or a loved one suffer serious injury do to another driver, you can take a negligent driver to civil court and sue them for damages. Compensation may cover damages including:
- Medical Expenses
- Lost Wages
- Property Damage
- Pain and Suffering
This is no small thing. If you or someone you love has ever been severely hurt, you know firsthand that the costs can stack up quickly, and most people’s bank accounts can’t take the hit. The fact that you’re paying for someone else’s mistake makes it even worse.
To receive the compensation you deserve, you will have to prove that the driver was negligent, and that their negligence directly caused the car accident that resulted in financial damages to you. Keep in mind, however, that New York follows comparative negligence laws. If the defendant can prove that you are in any way at fault for the accident, even in a small way, your compensation may be reduced. Still, every little bit helps, and some compensation is better than none.
Lawyers24-7.com | Ask Questions – Get Answers
Every 48 hours, a pedestrian or cyclist is killed in a New York City traffic accident. Sadly, the city’s laws do not always work in the victim’s favor. If you or a loved one have been seriously injured as a pedestrian in a New York City traffic accident, get in contact with a lawyer today. Call (800) 762-9300. Or, you can also get started by simply filling out one of our case intake forms, and we will have one of our attorneys get right back to you.