We’ve been representing accident victims in the Hudson Valley since the 1970s, and things have changed quite a bit since then.
For one, even though there are far more cars on the road now than there were back then, changes to auto safety rules, better enforcement of speed limits, and better road and car design have added up there being fewer fatal accidents. For example, in 1974, 49 people died on the roads of Ulster County; from 2012-2014, Ulster County averaged just 17 deaths. However, the increased number of cars on the road has added up to more injuries; in 1974, there were 700 personal injury accidents, while from 2012-2014, our county averaged 1,422 emergency department visits annually.
One moment in history that changed things was in 1977, when the Daily Freeman reported that the Town of Ulster Police Department was given “highly sophisticated equipment” that would allow them to conduct breathalyzer tests for the first time, which was expected to help reduce serious accidents by 15 percent.
There’s also been the widespread adoption of roundabouts, which can reduce the speed and angles at which accidents can happen at our busiest intersections.
We looked back through some old newspaper clippings to re-visit some of Kingston and the Hudson Valley’s car accident injury settlements and verdicts to further explore how things have changed and how they’ve stayed the same. We even found an announcement from when Alfred Mainetti first started practicing in Ulster County:
Have you been injured in an accident? Give us a call at 845-600-0000 to schedule a free consultation at our offices in Kingston and Poughkeepsie; we’ll push back for you against the insurance companies.
Hint: (Click on the press clipping for a larger view)
1. 1974: A Car Accident That Caused Neck and Back Injuries in Kingston
The Ulster County Supreme Court awarded $27,750 to a driver who sustained neck and permanent lower back injuries after an accident where she was rear-ended by another driver, on Route 9W in the Town of Ulster. The victim had been a horse rider, and it was found that her injuries curtailed her enjoyment of the sport. She was awarded $23,500 for pain and suffering, $3,500 for medical expenses and $650 for car damages.
2. 1952: Phoenicia Woman Suffers Trucking & Bus Accident in Fleischmann’s
In 1948, a young woman from Phoenicia was a passenger on a bus from Fleischmann’s to Margaretville. The bus was hit by a truck, and the passenger suffered a “fractured skull and serious arm and leg injuries.” She sued the trucking company and the bus company for a total of $250,000, and in a trial, was awarded $125,000 for “medical expenses and loss of services.” The bus driver separately sued the trucking company for $200,000, and received a $60,000 settlement for his injuries without going to trial.
3. 1953: Couple Victims of Car and Truck Accident on Milton Turnpike
A local couple was awarded $7,000 for damages and injuries after a car accident involving a fruit truck. The liability of the defendant was admitted in court, so it was up to the jury to decide how much was going to be awarded.
4. 1956: Route 213 Car Accident in Kingston
A local family was stopped on Route 213, waiting to make a turn onto Lucas Avenue. Two other cars collided, and then one of those cars ran into the waiting vehicle. One woman in the car was awarded $14,000 for injuries to her neck, while her companions were awarded $2,000 each.
5. 1976: Three-Car Jeep Crash in Olive Causes Permanent Leg Injuries
A Kingston man was driving a jeep which was owned by a friend of his. The jeep was loaded with passengers, and it collided with another vehicle on Route 28, bursting into flames immediately, and then crossing the highway and hitting a truck.
One of the passengers sued both the driver and the owner of the jeep, receiving a $551,000 settlement for injuries sustained to his left leg; the injuries required 12 surgeries and the permanent use of a cane.
6. 1942: Ellenville Woman Injured in Crash in Kingston
An Ellenville woman was awarded $400 of $2,500 that she was seeking for personal injuries; the driver and passengers of the other involved car were counter-suing for their own damages but their claim was dismissed, after it was found that the accident was their fault.
7. 1959: Kripplebush Man Sues New York State in Car Accident Lawsuit
Eight years prior to the final verdict, two men suffered severe head injuries after their car hit a bridge over the Esopus Creek near Kingston.
They sued New York State for negligently maintaining the road. Neither man could remember anything from the accident, but at trial, other witnesses testified to the conditions of the scene of the accident. There was no sign indicating the “dangerous condition at the point where the road runs up a grade, narrows and then enters the bridge on a curve.”
The attorneys also presented a “day and night study” where a recommendation had been made that overhead lighting be provided at the scene; an engineer testified that the lack of light made the curve of the road confusing. They also argued that some of the signage and obstructing trees leading up to the accident created a condition where the drivers were not warned of the danger ahead.
8. 1971: Kingston Woman Suffers Facial and Back Injuries in Car Accident in Town of Ulster
A woman was awarded $25,000 after an accident that took place at the intersection of DeWitt Lake Road and Mountain Road in the Town of Ulster.
There aren’t too many details about the case, but there was an 11-1 verdict after a two-day trial. The victim suffered “persistent and intermittent facial and back injuries as a result of the accident.”
9. 1951: Margaretville Couple Suffers Broken Legs After Route 209 Accident in Kerhonkson
An elderly Margaretville couple were in a three-car accident on Route 209 and were awarded the largest ever verdict in Sullivan County (at the time); before that, the largest verdict was just $20,000. The victims suffered broken legs and “undisputed medical testimony indicated they would both be crippled for life and unable to walk without the aid of braces or other aids.”
10. 1953: Kingston Pedestrian Being Injured by Car in Middletown
A Kingston woman was standing next to a parked car on the side of a Middletown highway, when another car smashed into the parked car, throwing her to the pavement. She suffered a fractured skull and leg, concussion and other injuries.
1975: Chef Has Slip and Fall Accident at Ellenville Hospital
This isn’t a car accident but, a slip and fall. A man slipped on ice at the main entrance to the hospital in late 1973; according to his testimony, he struck his head on an entrance door, which caused severe lacerations to his forehead. He also suffered a fractured nose, and his hand was injured when it was caught under the door. The chef was out of work for two months after the accident.