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Q: Immediately prior to the accident I was driving my car on a one-way street, with my daughter as a front-seat passenger and a third person as a rear-seat passenger.  I came to a full stop at a stop sign at an intersection.  The cross street had no traffic control device.

While stopped, I looked to the right and to the left and observed no cars approaching the intersection.  After making sure it was safe to continue, I proceeded.  As I crossed the halfway point, my daughter cried that a car was approaching ‘mad fast’.  It struck my passenger side with a very heavy impact.

I estimate that the car had been traveling at about 40 miles per hour.  The driver told the police: (1) no, he was traveling at less than 15 miles per hour; and (2) what’s more, he was looking straight ahead and observed no cars.

A: No doubt the driver will argue that you were negligent, for failing to yield the right-of-way in violation of Vehicle and Traffic law § 1140.  However, our courts have repeatedly held that it cannot be said that your conduct was the sole proximate cause of the accident simply because your approach into the intersection was regulated by a stop sign whereas no traffic control devices regulated the other driver’s approach.

In other words, it is far from clear that the other driver had the right-of-way.  Your attorney will argue that – because you stopped at the stop sign and there were no cars near the intersection, because you lawfully arrived at and proceeded through the intersection first – the other driver lacked the right-of-way.

Moreover, even if the other driver indeed had the right-of-way, he might still be guilty of comparative negligence.  Under that doctrine, a driver who lawfully enters an intersection may still be found partially at fault for an accident if he fails to use reasonable care to avoid a collision with another car in the intersection.  It is for the jury to decide whether the driver exercised that care.

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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