Yielding the Right of Way

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Q: Another car collided with mine.  We had been traveling in the same direction, me in the right lane and him in the left lane.  Then the other driver made a sudden right turn in front of me.

A: Generally, a sudden right turn such as you describe is contrary to the Vehicle and Traffic Law, and it constitutes negligence.  The negligence was the sole proximate cause of the accident, and there was no comparative negligence on your part.  You had the right-of-way, and so you were entitled to anticipate that the other motorist would obey the traffic law requiring him to yield to you.  Having the right-of-way, and only seconds to react, you were not comparatively negligent for failing to avoid this collision.

This would be true if the other driver had observed a parking spot located to the right, and had turned in order to enter the parking lot.  However, it is not always true.  Under section 1144(a) of the Vehicle and Traffic Law, a different rule applies in favor of an authorized emergency vehicle exhibiting a red light and sounding a siren.  In such a case, in a nutshell, you must basically yield the right of way and drive over to the curb.

Section 1144(a) does not impose on you a duty to warn nearby drivers of the oncoming emergency vehicle or to activate your own lights, blinkers or signals as an indicator to other motorists coming up behind or alongside your vehicle.  Whether you yourself might be deemed negligent with respect to a third vehicle, for how quickly you pull over to the curb, is an issue for another day.

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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