New York City Sees Rise in Auto Accidents at Outdoor Dining Areas

Vehicles have crashed into temporary outdoor dining areas in New York City at least four times since restaurants were allowed to serve people outdoors about six weeks ago amid the coronavirus pandemic. According to a news report in The Wall Street Journal, New York Police Department officials said that eight people were injured in the accidents that occurred in Brooklyn, the Bronx, Queens and Manhattan at outdoor dining areas that were permitted by the city because the COVID-19 pandemic has made indoor dining dangerous.

In two of the accidents, diners suffered non-life-threatening injuries that required medical attention and property was damaged. In two other cases, property was damaged, but no injuries were reported, police said. So far, the Journal reports that more than 9,500 restaurants across the five boroughs have been approved for the city’s Open Restaurants Program, which began June 22 and allows more expansive sidewalk and roadway seating than was permitted prior to the pandemic. More than 6,000 restaurants have been approved to set up chairs and tables in the roadway.

Dangers of Outdoor Seating

The city’s rules dictate, however, that roadway cafes must be at least 15 feet from fire hydrants and 8 feet from crosswalks. Barriers must be at least 18 inches wide with reflective tape on the outside corners, regulations state. A number of restaurants have constructed these dining areas to accommodate tables and chairs on stretches of city streets that had heavy traffic before the pandemic.

Experts say it is possible that drivers may be unaware and startled by newly constructed seating areas in roadways. The fact that these outdoor dining areas are in the roadway and if there is nothing to warn drivers, that can be a problem. Restaurant owners and diners have reported more than four occasions when vehicles crashed into temporary seating areas on city streets. Last month, a pickup truck veered out of control and struck the outdoor dining area of L’Wren, a cocktail bar in Sunset Park, Brooklyn.

Three diners were injured and property was damaged, officials said. Restaurant owners say the ability to offer these outdoor table services has been of great help to their business after months of losing revenue. New York City officials have completed more than 13,000 inspections of temporary outdoor dining areas. Officials say more than 90% of restaurants comply with city regulations when it comes to roadway seating.

A number of these accidents may be caused by reckless drivers. Drivers who speed, or drive while distracted and/or impaired pose a definite danger to other road users and have the potential to cause accidents that result in major injuries. In such cases, the at-fault driver may face charges and penalties. In addition, he or she can be held financially liable for the injuries, damages and losses caused. Injured victims of car accidents can seek compensation for damages such as medical expenses, lost income and benefits, hospitalization, cost of rehabilitation, permanent injuries, disabilities, past and future pain and suffering, etc.

Contacting an Experienced Lawyer

If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident, or if you have lost a loved one in an auto accident caused by a negligent (careless) driver, the experienced New York personal injury attorneys at the Law Offices of Kenneth A. Wilhelm can help you better understand your legal rights and options, and also fight hard to recover just compensation for you.

For over 49 years, our skilled accident attorneys have established a proven track record of helping injured victims get fair compensation for their losses. Our law firm recently recovered $5,600,000 for a bicyclist who was hit by a van, and $2,550,000 for another victim of a truck accident, and $3,000,000 for a pedestrian who was hit by a car, and the full $1,000,000 insurance policy for a pedestrian who was hit by a truck, and $4,625,000 for a driver who was in a car and was hit by a van, and $2,500,000 for a man who fell through an improperly secured hole. Also, one of our clients obtained a verdict for $43,940,000 and another of our clients got a verdict for $23,500,000, both in medical malpractice cases.

Please contact us TOLL FREE 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-800-WORK-4-YOU (1-800-967-5496). WE CAN EVEN COME TO YOU. There is no attorneys’ fee unless we recover money for you. We can also help with personal injury and medical malpractice cases in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, or Florida. If you have been seriously injured in any of the 50 U.S. states, please call us and we will try to help you with your case.

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