A Proper Lookout

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Q: I was heading toward an intersection. On the other street, so was a van. Although we had no stop sign, he did. The next thing I remember is waking up in the hospital.

A: Presumably, you will argue that the van driver violated Vehicle and Traffic Law § 1142(a) in that he failed to yield the right-of-way – by driving through the stop sign. You were entitled to assume that the van driver would obey the law requiring him to yield. However, you also had an obligation to keep a proper lookout and see what could be seen through the reasonable use of your senses. If you failed to do that, you too may be found, at least partially, at fault.

One issue is the distance of each vehicle from the intersection when its driver first saw, or should have seen, the other vehicle. Another is the rate of each vehicle’s speed. There are many ways to estimate that speed, such as the distance traveled after impact. In general, although not necessarily, the shorter the distance, the slower was the speed.

If you were speeding, then the van driver is likely to argue that he did not realize you were – and was justified in thinking that you would not reach the intersection before he passed through it. If music was blaring in your car even after the accident, or there is evidence that you were on your cellphone, the van driver will have even more to say.

At the outset, your attorney will want to see the police accident report. Perhaps it contains the van driver’s admission that he had failed to stop, before proceeding. Perhaps there is testimony from a police officer that he asked the van driver to pull over, and then observed that the driver had bloodshot and watery eyes, slurred speech, and a flushed face.

As you see, often, section 1142(a) can be just a starting point in understanding a case like yours, and far from the only circumstance to be considered.

By: Scott Baron,
Attorney at Law Advertorial

The law responds to changed conditions; exceptions and variations abound. Here, the information is general; always seek out competent counsel. This article shall not be construed as legal advice.

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