Negligence: Duty & Forseeablility | Bronx Personal Injury Attorney


The overwhelming number of personal injury cases involve an act of “negligence” by one individual that results in an injury to another.   However, the fact that one individual’s negligent act results in another individual’s injury does not automatically create a valid basis for a lawsuit by the injured party against the negligent party.

The most famous “tort” (“tort”= a civil wrong) case studied by every law student for generations is Palsgraf v. Long Island Railroad. Mr. Palsgraf was standing on a train platform after buying his ticket, near some scales.  At the other end of the platform some men were rushing onto a train.  Conductors on the train helped the men aboard, but in the rush one man dropped a package which contained fireworks.  The fireworks exploded, causing the scales near Mr. Palsgraf, at the other end of the platform, to fall and injure Mr. Palsgraf.    Was the LIRR liable to Mr. Palsgraf for the injury he sustained?

The appeals court discussed  whether, in the first instance, there was any duty owed  Mr. Palsgraf by the LIRR and its conductors, since he was so far from the scene of the activity involving the alleged  negligence.  The lower court  ruled that there was a duty owed to Mr. Palsgraf.  The appeals court (overruling the lower court that found in favor of Mr. Palsgraf) decided that it was not reasonably foreseeable that the action by the conductors would result in injury to someone as remote as Mr. Palsgraf was to the scene of the acts. Consequently, there being no “duty”, there is no basis for the LIRR’s liability !

Since that case, courts have differed considerably in determining the basis as to whether negligent parties owe a duty to, and therefore become liable for, injuries that occur to remote individuals. The Palsgraf court established the principle of “foreseeability”–would a reasonable person have foreseen the possibility of the incident resulting in injury, in the manner the accident occurred?

Other courts have adopted a broader definition: was there a continuous and direct connection between the cause (the negligent act) and the effect (the injury)?   “Foreseeability” of the exact occurrence is not as dramatic an issue in this latter scenario.


New York Construction Accident Injures Two Workers in Pelham

New York School Roof Collapse Injures Two; One Seriously

The roof of a Pelham elementary school collapsed Saturday afternoon, injuring two construction workers.

According to Pelham Police Chief Joseph Benefico, Colonial School at 315 Highbrook Avenue in Pelham was in the process of an addition when a front wall gave causing a roof collapse and the injury of two construction accident workers, Workers were cutting the first floor when the accident happened on Saturday, October 31st, 2009.

Superintendent Dennis Lauro and Colonial’s Principal Janet Rothstein wrote in a letter

“Our architects and school officials are conferencing with the New York State Education Department, which must give us clearance to re-open school. Based on the inspection on Saturday, the building is deemed safe. We are also planning a second engineering inspection as an extra precaution. In addition, our Board Construction Steering Committee would like to have the demolition work completed and the site cleared before reopening Colonial.” The letter promised a comprehensive memo to be released later today.

Wager Contracting Co. Inc., of New Rochelle, is the contractor for the construction project and declined to answer questions about the workers’ conditions.

Even if they Collect New York Worker’s Compensation, Construction Workers may be entitled to sue and collect an Injury Reward in New York

Despite many recent New York City construction accidents, a continued negligence of safety allows for further injuries.  As experienced Construction Site Accident Attorneys in New York we too see the same pattern over and over again. It is a shame and all of those responsible for safety should be held accountable. One thing many do not undertsand is even if they were injured and are receiving Workers Compensation for a Construction Accident in New York, they may still be entitled to sue for damages.  No matter what they think, if you or someone you know is collecting workman’s compensation for on the job injuries, especially New York Construction Accidents, they should collect contact an experienced Construction Injury Attorney,