It is awful when tragedy strikes. But I think that people tend feel the sting of the tragedy a bit more acutely when, in the aftermath of the event, the municipality hurriedly takes corrective measures to assure that future similar incidents do not occur.
I suppose that in these cases, the victim's family can't help but wonder: why couldn't they have made these corrections beforehand? Why, if they knew about the danger beforehand, did they have to wait until NOW to fix this problem?
In that vein, it was reported earlier today that the mother of a high school student who was tragically killed in a pedestrian knock-down incident just in front of her Staten Island school has now sued New York City for wrongful death, claiming that the City ignored repeated calls to "place traffic-control or traffic-calming devices near the school, despite knowing the roadway's dangers and despite requests by public officials and the principal for traffic signals."
As noted in "Dangerous Intersections: Municipal Liability Under New York Law," New York's courts have long held that "when the State is made aware of a dangerous highway condition and does not take action to remedy it, the State can be held liable for resulting injuries" (Friedman v. State of New York, 67 N.Y.2d 271, 286, 502 N.Y.S.2d 669, 493 N.E.2d 893).
If the plaintiff's claims are true, and the City did in fact have notice of the dangers of the intersection beforehand yet failed to correct those dangers in an appropriate manner, I can hardly imagine a more sympathetic, jury-friendly case. Don't you agree?