The family of Michael and Guy Bastardi, two of the victims of the horrific July 26 fatal motor vehicle crash on the Taconic Parkway which killed eight, commenced a lawsuit in the Westchester County Supreme Court this week. The lawsuit, as announced by Roseanne Guzzo, the daughter of 81 year old Michael Bastardi and sister of 49 year old Guy Bastardi, was filed against the estate of Diane Schuler, the intoxicated driver of the wrong way vehicle which struck the Bastardi car, and Warren Hance, (Schuler’s brother) the owner of the Ford Windstar minivan Schuler was driving with a blood alcohol level of 0.19 and THC (the active ingredient in marijuana) in her system.
The lawsuit seeks damages for the wrongful death of Michael and Guy Bastardi, as well as damages for the pain and suffering of both men. Under New York State law, the main elements of damages would be for pain and suffering and wrongful death. Wrongful death damages are limited to “pecuniary loss.” What this means is that if Ms. Guzzo is the plaintiff, for the wrongful death of her brother and father, her damages would be limited to whatever income her father or brother gave her on a regular basis. She could not recover for the emotional loss of her brother under New York State law, but would have a claim for the “loss of parental guidance” of losing her father in the tragic accident.
However, the more compelling issue in this case will be whether the Bastardi family can prove, as they have alleged, that either or both of the Bastardi men survived the accident, even for a few minutes, in order to recover damages for their pain and suffering. Apparently, the attorney for the Bastardis has statements from some first responders indicating that both men were still breathing and responsive immediately after the accident. In order to establish damages for pain and suffering, it is not enough to show that the men survived the horrific impact, but it must also be shown that they suffered “conscious pain and suffering.”
It is expected that the attorney for Daniel Longo, the other man killed in the Bastardi vehicle, will soon file a lawsuit for his wrongful death. One of the main issues in this case will undoubtedly be the extent of the insurance coverage, which would be sought on behalf of all three men, and will clearly be inadequate in compensating the two families for their horrible losses. Ms. Guzzo did state that the lawsuit was not filed for compensation, but to “shine a public spotlight on drunken driving.” There is no doubt that this tragic accident, lawsuit or not, is and will be in the public spotlight for a very long time. It is also a certainty that any damages the families recover in this case pale in comparison to the losses they have suffered.
Please contact the Westchester County personal injury attorneys at The Law Office Of Mark A. Siesel online or toll free at 888-761-7633 if you or a loved one has been injured in a New York car accident, truck accident, or any other type of accident with an experienced, knowledgeable lawyer who will battle the insurance companies for the victims of personal injury accidents in New York.