Hit in the Rear

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Q: Driving my fire engine en route to a fire, I observed a car stopped ahead of me. I repeatedly applied the fire engine’s brakes, and managed to slow down to a speed of five to seven miles per hour. Nevertheless, I skidded into the car. The driver had heard my horn and siren and seen my lights. She maintains that she was unable to pull over to the right because of traffic conditions. Instead, she decided to make a left turn. The driver was in the process of moving into the left-hand turning lane, when her car was struck in the rear by my engine.

A: You do not say that either the City or you personally suffered damages to the point that one would sue over them. The most likely lawsuit is one brought by the driver or her passenger against the City. I do not think that they have a case against you. For starters, pursuant to the Vehicle and Traffic Law, the driver was required to yield the right of way and, among other precautions, stay clear of the intersection. Under the circumstances, true, her failure to do so may not have been comparative negligence. At the same time, her attempting a left turn may indeed have been comparative negligence. Only a jury can decide. Be that as it may, as for whether you and the City were negligent, you have the benefit of two statutory provisions. Under General Municipal Law § 205-b, you may not be held liable for an act done in the performance of your duties “except for wilful negligence or malfeasance”. Under Vehicle and Traffic Law § 1104, you may not be held liable because there is no evidence that you acted with “reckless disregard for the safety of others”. So do not see how the driver can succeed.

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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