Better to Proceed than to Pause

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Q: On a clear, sunny morning, I was driving my motorcycle downtown. Along my route, a police officer in pursuit of a robber had come to a stop at a red light at an intersection – with his lights and siren on. A bus was approaching the intersection, with the green light in its favor. The bus driver stopped, his eyes met those of the officer, and the bus driver signaled that the officer could proceed, waving the officer through the intersection. After the officer drove his police car into the intersection, he waited there for about 15 seconds, and turned off his siren, in case the robber would run into view. After this pause, the officer proceeded forward, still against the light, and without reactivating his siren or checking for oncoming traffic, such as me.

A: Certainly, you have a case against the City based on the conduct of the police officer. The only question is whether you have a claim against the Transit Authority based on the conduct of the bus driver. In appropriate circumstances, a driver may incur a duty to another by gesturing that it is safe to cross the road, with liability extending to all those reasonably within the ambit of potential injury, even third parties. However, the bus driver’s gesture was not a proximate cause of your accident. The officer did not rely on the gesture in deciding to proceed into the portion of the roadway where he collided with you. Rather, the officer relied on the gesture only to the extent of proceeding into the area directly in front of the bus, where he paused and looked around. He did not and could not reasonably rely on the gesture to presume that, after pausing, it was still safe to proceed.

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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