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Expanded Outdoor Dining in NYC: Recent Crash Raises Safety Concerns

July 18, 2020
street of ny with people

In the new reality wrought by the COVID-19 pandemic, we are all looking for ways to keep our lives and the economy chugging along, while making concessions – lots and lots of concessions. We are also eager to adopt viable paths forward, but some of these work better than others. For example, while our dine-in restaurant options are limited, many eateries are expanding outdoor seating, and there are safety concerns involved.

The Crash

Spectrum News in New York City reports that, on July 15, a driver in Queens accidentally hit the accelerator instead of the brakes (an error that is more common than many realize) and crashed through the recently opened outdoor dining area of a local restaurant and bar. The facts are as follows:

  • Four patrons of the restaurant and one waitress were injured in the crash, but none sustained life-threatening injuries.
  • The owner of the restaurant had pitched a safety idea to the city that involved closing the part of Roosevelt Avenue where the restaurant is located.
  • The restaurant in question has reclosed (after their initial three-month COVID-related closure).

It’s a lot, and it raises important concerns about how safe all the increased outdoor dining actually is.

Restaurant Owners

The restaurant owner involved has expressed his deep concern for his patrons’ safety and his frustrations regarding his business – relaying that remaining financially viable isn’t easy. The part of Roosevelt Avenue where the accident happened is lined with restaurants that, while they can’t offer dine-in service, are serving customers at outside tables, and restaurant owners are naturally concerned about the safety of both their patrons and their employees.

Opening Up Outside

Due to the novel coronavirus that has swept our nation and the world at large, restaurants in New York City can’t serve their customers indoors, but in June, the city did begin allowing more expansive outdoor dining – with strict safety regulations in place. These include erecting barriers around the outdoor serving areas that are at least 3 feet high and 18 inches wide. This crash highlights exactly how vulnerable outdoor diners actually are – regardless of the newly minted precautions.

Mixed Reviews

The reviews are definitely mixed when it comes to outdoor dining. While it allows patrons the opportunity to get out in the world and still maintain healthy social-distancing practices, these patrons recognize the risk of eating at tables that are in such close proximity to traffic. Some restaurant owners are pushing for a partial road closure to help increase safety. Finally, city officials are recommending that the public does not allow one isolated incident to scrap the economic and social progress that’s being made. 

Obtain the Legal Guidance You Need from an Experienced New York City Personal Injury Attorney

If you’ve been injured in any kind of pedestrian accident, the dedicated personal injury attorneys at Lipsig, Shapey, Manus & Moverman in New York City are committed to employing their vast knowledge, skill, and experience to helping you obtain the compensation you need to adequately address the full array of damages you’ve suffered. We’re here for you, so please don’t hesitate to contact or call us at 212-285-3300 for more information today.


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