Jason Rhoades was driving across an icy bridge on Interstate 81 in Syracuse, New York when his vehicle slid across the roadway and vaulted up a snowbank that had accumulated against a concrete barrier. His car went up the bank, fell off the bridge, and landed on the road below. The 28-year-old father of two – who was also the mayor of a neighboring town – died from his injuries.
Less than two days later, William Gardner, a retired Air Force colonel, was killed in an identical accident at the exact same spot.
The families of both men sued the state, arguing that it had carelessly failed to plow the snow away from the guardrail barrier, thus leaving the bridge without any protection if a car slid toward the edge.
Initially, a judge threw out both cases, ruling that the state couldn’t have known about the danger in time to fix it.
But an appeals court sided with the victims. It said a similar crash had occurred in the past on the same bridge, which should have put the state on notice that its plowing methods were dangerously inadequate. It also said the state should certainly have removed the snow after Rhoades’ accident, but instead it plowed more snow against the barrier, increasing the odds of an additional accident – which is precisely what happened to Gardner.
Recently, juries ordered the state to pay very significant sums to both of the men’s families.
If you believe you’ve suffered from an injury due to negligence, contact us for a free telephone consultation today at 864.233.7200 or 1.800.903.8101.