An Officer’s Failure To Signal

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Q: I am a police officer and was driving my marked police vehicle north on a two-lane road.  A southbound vehicle moved into my lane and then back into its own.  I slowed my vehicle, pulled to the right shoulder and activated my emergency lights.  I started to make a U-turn, in order to pursue the lane switcher, but my car was hit by a northbound car behind me.  I had failed to activate my directional signal.

A: The northbound driver cannot have been following you too closely, as no one at all was following you – once you pulled off the roadway onto the shoulder.  She also did not fail to yield to an emergency vehicle, because you gave her no time to yield.  Even if she believed that you intended to turn your vehicle around and pursue the southbound driver, a reasonable person in her position would have thought that you were planning to turn around after the traffic cleared.  It sounds like your sudden and unannounced U-turn into the flow of traffic need not have been anticipated.

Your case, if any, is against the southbound driver, but only under General Municipal Law § 205-e.  In a section 205-e action, and assuming that the southbound driver was violating a provision of law, even though the connection between your accident and this violation is indirect, he is liable to pay you not less than one thousand dollars.  Your comparative fault is not an obstacle.

However, you appear to lack a common-law negligence claim against the southbound driver.  Your accident and his reckless driving, if any, do not have a proximate connection.  Seemingly, the appearance of the northbound vehicle, along with your failure to signal your intention and your failure to notice the new vehicle constitute intervening, superseding events, severing the ties that are necessary for proximate causation.

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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