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Kevin Duffan
Kevin Duffan
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NY Driver in Fatal Bike/Car Wreck Faces Civil Lawsuit

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A Johnstown, NY musician was killed by a driver in late June, and his wife is suing both the driver of the pick up truck who hit him, as well as the company the driver worked for at the time.

Cynthia Lakata filed a lawsuit for civil negligence on Aug. 5 in Johnstown against John Damphier and his employer, Cranesville Block Company. The truck driven by Damphier slammed into Lakata on his bicycle, according to the New York State Police. Cynthia Lakata is seeking a civil trial and punitive damages.

The lawsuit stated that the actions of the driver and his company involved reckless conduct, and showed a conscious indifference to the rights of others, and punitive damages should be awarded.

Court documents allege that Damphier often drove while he was impaired with prescription drugs, and also while using a cell phone.

The fatal wreck happened on June 25 at 9:25 AM when the 55 year-old Lakata rode his bike northwest on Route 29A in Johnstown. Damphier was driving his Chevy pick up truck in the same direction during his sales duties for Cranesville Block.

The lawsuit alleges that Damphier was operating his truck carelessly, negiligently and with regard to the biker’s safety, which caused a crash between the truck and the bike. The suit stated that the crash caused serious injuries to Lakata and he died from them. The documents also stated that he had been taking prescription drugs just before he drove, and he also was talking on his cell phone during the accident.

The suit also stated that the employer had knowledge that their employee often operated his motor vehicle while on prescription drugs and while using a cell phone.

Damphier still is employed by Cranesville Block.

Unfortunately, distracted driving accidents are all too common today. The NHTSA has reported that 4,000-8,000 crashes each day are related to distracted driving, such as when using a cell phone. Also, 40% of Americans are believed to drive when talking on a cell phone.

This is an exceedingly dangerous activity: A recent NHTSA study found that reaction times while driving are cut by 20% by drivers using cell phones, and often the results are tragic.

Our personal injury law office in Virginia recently had experience is speaking about the dangers of distracted driving. Two of our Virginia Beach personal injury attorneys, Kevin Duffan and Richard N. Shapiro, spoke to 600 Jamestown High School students in Williamsburg, VA recently on the subject.

Both attorneys were part of a nationwide program called End Distracted Driving. They showed a presentation to the students that had videos of families and friends who had suffered the deaths of their loved ones due to various distracted driving tragedies.

As we mentioned in our presentation, distracted driving isn’t just very risky from a personal safety perspective, it also has serious legal ramifications. If you cause a wreck due to being distracted by your cell phone or radio, you can be held liable for financial damages in a wrongful death lawsuit.

Shapiro, Lewis, Appleton & Favaloro is a personal injury law firm based in North Carolina and Virginia. Its team of attorneys often deals with personal injury cases involving distracted driving, and driving under the impairment of drugs or alcohol.