Avid cyclists in New York may have heard about a fatal bus accident that occurred in the town of Greenburgh in Westchester County back in 2009. This accident led to the death of a cyclist, the passing of a new traffic law and a lawsuit from the cyclist's wife. Almost 10 years later, in March 2019, the lawsuit ended in a settlement of $75,000.
On the afternoon of Nov. 6, 2009, a 66-year-old resident of Greenburgh was bicycling on Route 119 near the Aqueduct Road intersection when a Bee Line bus sideswiped and killed him. In 2010, his wife filed the lawsuit against Westchester County and Liberty Lines, which operates the county's bus system.
The contention was that the bus driver did not maintain a safe distance from the cyclist. Consequently, the state of New York passed a law called Merrill's Law (named after the fatally injured cyclist) that requires drivers to pass bicyclists at a safe distance. However, critics say the enforcement of this law is lax.
The victim, who was a devoted cyclist, worked at the United Nations. After his passing, a "ghost bike" memorial was placed near the accident site. The settlement amount had been agreed upon years ago, but the county's Acquisition and Contract Board has only recently been given approval to pay it out because there were earlier complications during estate-related proceedings in surrogate court.
Someone who has been injured in a bus accident may be able to file a personal injury claim if the at-fault party was deemed negligent. This is where a lawyer usually comes in to evaluate a case, hire investigators to build it up and negotiate for a settlement. A local victim may want such assistance for their case, especially because they will likely find themselves going up against the New York City Transit Authority.