Cut Me Off
Q: One evening, another driver was driving inappropriately and aggressively, over a distance of several blocks. She was stopping her van suddenly, tailgating, and swerving. Eventually, she cut me off as I attempted to make a right turn. I had no choice but to swerve into lanes of oncoming traffic, and slam on my brakes. I came to a stop next to a snow bank, and felt pain in my shoulder and neck.
The driver has been telling everybody that, no, she had been driving in the left lane behind me, and that I had repeatedly braked suddenly – and eventually even delayed proceeding through a green light. She says that, once traffic cleared on her right, she moved to the right of me, and then passed in front of me. She adds that, as she was trying to make a left turn into the pathway of a store, I tried to cut her off.
We engaged in a physical altercation. She tackled me, knocked me to the ground, and punched me in the face a bunch of times. Now, I have a lot of pain in my shoulder. A year later, the driver pleaded guilty to misdemeanor assault and disorderly conduct. I don’t even think the van was hers.
A: In addition to alleging assault against the driver, you are likely to allege that the van owner was vicariously liable for the driver’s negligent operation of the vehicle, under Vehicle and Traffic Law § 388. Section 388 makes the owner liable and responsible for death or injuries to person or property resulting from negligence in the use or operation of the vehicle, by any person using or operating it with the permission of the owner.
To establish liability pursuant to section 388, you must show negligence in the use or operation of the vehicle, and that the negligence was a cause of your injuries. Where there are conflicting versions of events, it is for the trier of fact to evaluate credibility and determine what happened. There will also be issues as to how much your injuries were caused by the other driver’s improper driving, for which the van owner arguably is liable, and how much they were caused by the assault.
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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