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Deer Park Nail Salon Car Accident - 9 Injured and 4 Deceased. Driver Charged with DWI. Personal Injury Attorney Commentary On Dram Shop Liability

hawaii nail and spa deer park nail salon accident hit by drunk driver
Published: June 30, 2024
By: Darla Medina
Last Updated on June 30, 2024

DEER PARK, NY - A devastating crash at a Long Island nail salon on Friday afternoon has left four people dead and nine others injured, according to Suffolk County police.

Authorities report that Steven Schwally, 64, of Dix Hills, was arrested and charged with driving while intoxicated after allegedly crashing his 2020 Chevrolet Traverse SUV into Hawaii Nail & Spa on Grand Boulevard in Deer Park at approximately 4:32 PM on June 28, 2024.

Police say Schwally was driving at high speed through a nearby parking lot before crossing Grand Boulevard and plowing through the front of the nail salon, which was open for business at the time. The vehicle came to rest at the back of the store, causing extensive damage.

Three women and one man were pronounced dead at the scene by medical officials. Their identities have been released as Jiancai Chen, 37, of Bayside; Emilia Rennhack, 30, of Deer Park; Yan Xu, 41, of Flushing; and Meizi Zhang, 50, of Flushing. Rennhack was identified as an off-duty NYPD officer.

Nine other individuals, including a 12-year-old girl, were transported to local hospitals with injuries ranging from minor to serious. One victim was airlifted to Stony Brook University Hospital.

Schwally sustained non-life-threatening injuries and was taken to Good Samaritan University Hospital in West Islip. He is expected to be arraigned on DWI charges, with additional charges pending as the investigation continues.

Records show Schwally previously pleaded guilty to a DUI charge in 2014 stemming from a 2013 arrest.

The incident has shocked the Deer Park community. Local officials and residents have expressed condolences for the victims and their families. The Suffolk County Police Department's Major Case Unit is investigating the crash.

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Legal Options For Those Injured Or Killed By Drunk Drivers in New York

To provide additional context and expert insight on the legal implications of this tragic incident, The Legal Herald spoke with Joseph F. Sullivan, a prominent personal injury attorney from Sullivan & Brill, LLP in New York City. Here's our interview with Mr. Sullivan:

Darla Medina: Mr. Sullivan, thank you for speaking with us. Can you explain what legal options are available to victims and families affected by drunk driving incidents like the one in Deer Park?

Joseph F. Sullivan: Certainly, Darla. In cases involving drunk drivers, victims and their families have several legal avenues to pursue compensation. The primary course of action is typically a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit against the intoxicated driver. However, New York law also provides additional options, such as Dram Shop liability claims.

Darla Medina: Could you elaborate on Dram Shop liability? How does it apply in drunk driving cases?

Joseph F. Sullivan: Dram Shop laws allow victims to hold establishments accountable if they over-served alcohol to a visibly intoxicated person who then caused harm to others. In New York, bars, restaurants, and even social hosts can be held liable if they serve alcohol to someone who is clearly intoxicated and that person subsequently injures or kills someone in a drunk driving accident.

Darla Medina: How significant can the compensation be in Dram Shop liability cases?

Joseph F. Sullivan: Dram Shop claims can result in substantial compensation for victims and their families. These claims often lead to higher settlements or verdicts because establishments typically have more extensive insurance coverage than individual drivers. The compensation can cover medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and in wrongful death cases, loss of financial support and companionship.

Darla Medina: What evidence is crucial in building a strong Dram Shop liability case?

Joseph F. Sullivan: Key evidence includes eyewitness accounts of the driver's behavior at the establishment, receipts showing alcohol purchases, security camera footage, and statements from staff or other patrons. It's also important to establish a clear link between the over-service of alcohol and the subsequent accident.

Darla Medina: How does pursuing a Dram Shop claim differ from a standard personal injury lawsuit against the drunk driver?

Joseph F. Sullivan: While both types of claims seek compensation for victims, Dram Shop claims involve proving negligence on the part of the alcohol-serving establishment. This requires demonstrating that the staff knew or should have known that the person was intoxicated but continued to serve them. It's a more complex process that often requires extensive investigation and expert testimony.

Darla Medina: What advice would you give to victims or families considering legal action in such cases?

Joseph F. Sullivan: My primary advice would be to consult with an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible. These cases can be complex, and swift action is crucial to preserve evidence and meet legal deadlines. An attorney can help navigate the intricacies of both personal injury claims against the driver and potential Dram Shop liability claims, ensuring that victims and their families pursue all available avenues for compensation and justice.

Darla Medina: Thank you for your insights, Mr. Sullivan.

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Darla Medina
About Darla Medina
Editor: Darla is a content writer with a focus on the legal field. She covers cases of sexual abuse, drunk driving, and preventable violent crime for the Legal Herald. Contact Darla: This article was fact checked prior to publishing by this author to ensure compliance with our rigorous editorial standards. We will only use authoritative sources. Our values compel us to provide only trustworthy information. If you find an error, please contact us.
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