Two Vehicle v. Pedestrian Accidents in less than one week.

On Saturday, June 28th a 71-year-old woman was struck by an SUV in Middletown at the intersection of Main Street and Dr. Martin Luther King Way while crossing the street.  She later passed away from her injuries.  See further details here.  Less than one week later, on July 2nd, another pedestrian was walking on Route 40 near East Street in Vernon when she was struck by a car .  She was pronounced dead at the scene.  Additional information can be found here.

Carnival Ride Injuries

This past weekend, eighteen people, including twelve children, were injured at the Norwalk Oyster Festival when a carnival ride apparently malfunctioned.  In this case, it was a swing ride that seems to have had its machinery suddenly freeze up, causing the riders to crash into each other and the ride itself.    Basically, the type of ride at issue, the Zumur, consists of seats connected to rigid poles affixed to a rotating mechanism, the type of ride that is common at many amusement parks and carnivals.  According to Connecticut State Police, the owner did not have a history of safety violations.

A study, US Pediatric Injuries Involving Amusement Rides, 1990-2010, by Thompson, et al., was published in the journal Clinical Pediatrics in May 2013.  The study found that over 90,000 children were injured by rides over a twenty year period.  One third of injuries occurred at fixed locations (theme parks/amusement parks) and 29% at temporary locations (e.g., carnivals and festivals).    However, even if more are injured at amusement parks than carnivals, that might not mean carnival rides are safer if there is a significantly higher volume of riders at amusement parks.

The first thing, of course, when injured is to obtain immediate medical attention.  To the extent possible, a victim should try to obtain witness identities and photographs/video of the ride, including inspecting the area for security camera and news cameras.  Accidents do happen, but sometimes there is fault.  If the owner fails to properly maintain the ride, it may be liable.  If the operator fails to pay attention for potential hazards, there may be liability.  If a machine was poorly made, designed, or repaired, there may be liability.

Hiring competent, experienced personal injury attorneys who can help navigate the maze of federal and state regulators will help a victim be made whole for any error that may have occurred.

Duty to Inspect Dangerous Trees: Who is Liable When a Tree Falls and Causes Injury?

Almost every private home, town street or park contains beautiful trees which, when properly cared for, improve property values, provide shade and allow people to enjoy outdoor spaces. Connecticut is especially known for its tree lined streets, parks and state forests. While trees provide a clear benefit to homeowners and people enjoying the outdoors, if not properly cared for, they can become a hazard and a potential legal liability. An accident over Memorial Day weekend underscores the potential for injury from falling tree limbs.

Private landowners, the State and municipalities can be liable to persons injured or killed by a falling tree limb. Under the law of premises liability, property owners have a duty to guard against probable dangers. There exists an affirmative obligation to keep in a safe condition that property over which they have control. 8137136139_6527f02b85_b

The location of a tree is extremely important in determining whether a landowner or municipality has a duty to inspect and remedy a potentially dangerous tree. Owners of roadside property have a duty to inspect and monitor roadside trees which pose a threat to cars or pedestrians. In some instances, this responsibility can fall on the town or State. It is obviously not possible for a rural landowner to inspect every tree on their property to make sure it is not in danger of falling down. But when a tree is in a highly trafficked area and falls into a street or sidewalk the landowner or town can be liable.

Courts in Connecticut have applied the ordinary rules of negligence as well as the law of public nuisance to limbs falling off trees and causing personal injury. It is therefore a question of the nature of the tree’s location, the seriousness of the danger and the ease with which it may be prevented that determines the liability for a falling tree limb. If you become aware of a tree that poses a danger it is important to put the owner of the property on notice of the danger before the situation becomes perilous. If you have been injured by a falling tree or branch you should consult with an experienced attorney.

What to do If Your Child is Injured at School

Every day, we trust the Connecticut Public Schools with the welfare and safety of our children.  Unfortunately, injuries can happen.  Knowing what to do in response to a school injury and what you can expect is key.

First, make sure your child receives all appropriate medical attention.  Recovery from the injury is of the utmost concern to any parent and the CT Injury Law Center wants to make sure your child makes a speedy recovery to return to school and activities.

In addition, you should document the injury.  Make sure an appropriate accident report is filed with the school. Gather all medical records, bills, and insurance statements.  Save a copy of any incident report, but do not sign any document from the school other than one just acknowledging receipt of an incident report.  Make a list of witnesses and statements you have heard.  Take photographs of any defective conditions.

Talk to a lawyer who understands school injuries.  Bringing a claim against a school district and public school employees can be difficult.  Recently, in Haynes v. Middletown  the Connecticut Court of Appeals ruled against a student who was injured eight years ago in a locker room, cut by a locker with a jagged and exposed edge.  The ruling, and the law, is counterintuitive–because the dangerous condition had been that way for months, the school was not liable.

Normally, in a premises liability case, the longer a defective condition exists, the more the property owner is deemed to have had sufficient time to learn about the situation and fix it.  However, when suing a public school, it is important to recall that because the government makes the rules and is ultimately responsible to the entire citizenry, not just the injured person, it is not always legally responsible in the same way as a private actor.  If a school employee has a low level job and is just charged with performing specific tasks in a specific way, then liability can attach for negligent performance of ministerial tasks.  But, if someone has to make a decision about what to do, when to do it, how to do it, etc., then they are generally immune from suit for exercising their discretion; they are politically accountable to the public for bad decisions, but they are not legally liable.  There is an exception, which was the crux of the Haynes case.

In Haynes, the who, what, where, when and how of fixing the locker involved decision making, i.e., a discretionary function.  The government is not immune from suit when the identifiable person/imminent harm test is satisfied.  As noted by the court,”To prevail on that exception, the plaintiffs had to prove imminent harm, an identifiable victim, and a public official to whom it was apparent that his or her conduct is likely to subject the victim to that harm.”  It is meant to require a government employee to take immediate action when it knows someone is about to get hurt.  The Haynes family lost on the “imminent harm” question.  The jagged edge had been that way for months.  The school made a choice, purposely or by ignoring it, not to get it fixed right away, whether due to budget, or availability of repairmen, or need to keep the room in use, or otherwise.  The harm was not imminent.

Speaking to a knowledgeable attorney is important.  They can help you strategize how best to proceed with any claims that can be made, including a determination of who, other than a school employee, may be responsible, or help find a path to closure that does not take eight years.

Liability for Train Accidents in Connecticut

800px-Vykolejeni_EC_107_v_Praze_5On Friday, May 17, 2013, seventy two people were injured  when two Metro-North trains collided just after 6:00 p.m.  The attorneys and staff of the CT Injury Law Center were saddened to learn of this news.  Apparently, a train heading east derailed between the Bridgeport and Fairfield stations, and it was then struck by a westbound train.  Investigators are looking into whether a broken section of rail was responsible for the derailment or whether it simply broke during the collision.

In addition to the potentially devastating injuries that can occur when a train is involved in a collision, whether with a car, pedestrian, or other train, special considerations need to be taken into account when seeking to hold the responsible parties accountable.  For example, the Metro-North Commuter Railroad is run by the Metropolitan Transit Authority, an agency of the State of New York, in cooperation with the Connecticut Department of Transportation.  Pursuant to NY CLS Pub A sec. 1276, Connecticut residents may be required to first make a written demand for settlement and then only have one year from the date of injury to file suit (one year and 90 days for injuries after June 15, 2013).  Alternately, claims might be needed to be presented to the Connecticut Claims Commissioner within one year, prior to suit being authorized, should the Connecticut Department of Transportation be liable.  See, CGS sec. 4-141, et seq.   Claims for Amtrak or other train line injuries may have other requirements, especially where they are operated by governmental entities.

If you are injured in a Connecticut train accident, you should speak with an attorney familiar with presentment requirements.

Bridgeport Hit and Run

Bridgeport police are continuing their investigation into a hit and run accident last week that left a two-year-old boy with serious injuries. For full story see below link. http://connecticut.cbslocal.com/2013/05/08/bridgeport-police-continue-search-for-hit-and-run-driver/

If you have questions about your legal rights about this or any accident please contact our

New Haven office at 203-372-5922

Connecticut Truck Accident Leads to 15.7 Million Award

As this verdict reflects, some cases can take years to work their way through the civil jury system in Connecticut. This case also serves as a reminder that  when wrongful death plaintiffs show fault for an accident, a substantial award may be the result. Even though it is five years after the accident at issue, the case could still be appealed. An appeal in Connecticut could take more than an additional year for filing of briefs and oral argument. The Court of Appeals  may hear the case and if it does, another appeal may follow to the Connecticut Supreme court may accept the case for review. The Connecticut Supreme Court is typically the final word when it comes to determining disputed issues of law. In some cases, The Connecticut Supreme Court may take a case directly from the Court of Appeals if it deems the case important enough. In the event of a successful appeal, the case could be “remanded” or sent back to the superior court for another trial if legal error is found in the first trial. Even though there are many jury trials in Connecticut personal injury cases each year, greater than 95% of all cases filed settle before trial either through court-based settlement conferences, or through the superior court’s formal mediation program.