Emergency Doctrine Doesn't Help Driver Who, Trying To Avoid Low Speed 2-Car Accident, Jumped Center Median And Struck Pedestrian

Case: Lake v. Holzer

Court: New York Supreme Court

Date: February 9, 2015

From: New York attorney Gary E. Rosenberg (personal injury and accident attorney and lawyer; serving Brooklyn and Queens; Queens injury lawyer)

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Facts: Defendant drove her car onto a concrete median in the center of a roadway and struck plaintiff pedestrian. The defendant driver says that she swerved to avoid another car that was to her side.

Defendant asks the court for summary judgment based on the "emergency doctrine." This rule absolves a party of negligence if their behavior was to avoid a sudden impending accident or danger, not of their own making.

Plaintiff also moves (asks the Court) for summary judgment based on defendant driver's liability.

Held: The driver's so-called emergency – possibly getting sideswiped by another car – was not nearly enough of an emergency. This is particularly so when the driver could have taken a low-impact hit to her car, rather than strike a pedestrian.

Therefore, plaintiff wins summary judgment against the car and driver on the issue of liability; defendant loses.

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