Speeding Toward the Intersection

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Q: On a road coming off of the Thruway, a car was approaching a stop sign very, very fast.  In the intersection, the car broadsided a pick-up truck.  The truck flipped over and collided with my motorcycle, and then a minivan behind me collided with my motorcycle.  I have photos showing extensive damage to the rear of my motorcycle, damage to the front of the minivan, and that my saddlebag and luggage rack landed on the pavement beside the minivan.

A: Seemingly, the evidence, although circumstantial, supports the inference that the front of the minivan came into contact with the rear of your motorcycle.  The attorney for its driver is likely to argue that she was operating the minivan lawfully and prudently prior to the accident, and therefore is entitled to invoke something called the ‘emergency doctrine’.  The emergency doctrine holds that when an person is faced with a sudden and unexpected circumstance which leaves little or no time for thought, deliberation or consideration, or causes the person to be reasonably so disturbed that the person must make a speedy decision without weighing alternative courses of conduct, the person may not be negligent if the actions taken are reasonable and prudent in the emergency context.

In determining whether the actions of the minivan driver are reasonable in light of an emergency situation, the court must consider both (a) her awareness of the situation and (b) her actions prior to the occurrence of the emergency.

Suppose that the minivan driver saw, or should have seen, both (a) the car speeding toward the intersection and (b) the pick-up truck approaching the intersection.  Suppose that she saw, or should have seen, your motorcycle slowing down in front of her minivan.  Suppose that it is common knowledge that a lot of accidents happen at this intersection because people do not pay attention to the stop sign at the exit road.  Suppose that, despite this, the minivan driver did not slow down, move over, or apply her brakes until after she saw the car smash into the truck.  If so, your attorney is like to argue that the minivan driver, in taking no evasive action and in making no effort to slow down, or move over, or otherwise attempt to avert the impending collision, failed to conduct herself reasonably under the circumstances.

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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