Left Turn Accident Was All Plaintiff’s Fault, Court Finds

In Gomez v. Yussuf, a left-turn car accident case, the court dismissed plaintiff’s case, finding that plaintiff was the sole proximate cause of the accident. It described the accident as follows:

Plaintiff was the driver of a car which hit a vehicle owned and operated by defendant at the intersection of Rockaway Boulevard and Beach 56th Street in Queens. Before the accident, the parties were going in opposite directions on Rockaway Boulevard; the opposing lanes are separated by a double yellow line and each driver was in the lane closest to that dividing line. While both parties had the green light, plaintiff decided to make a left tum onto Beach 56th Street; he did so without ever coming to a full stop, and turned left into defendant’s path. The front end and bumper of plaintiffs car hit the driver’s side of defendant’s car.

Defendant, who was going straight in the lane closest to the double yellow line, was in the middle of the intersection at the time of impact. She was hit by plaintiff on her driver’s side, somewhere between her front bumper and the driver’s door. Defendant said she never saw plaintiff until the moment of impact.

Vehicle and Traffic Law section 1141 provides:

The driver of a vehicle intending to turn to the left within an intersection or into an alley, private road, or driveway shall yield the right of way to any vehicle approaching from the opposite direction which is within the intersection or so close as to constitute an immediate hazard.

Applying this statute, the court held:

There is no question that plaintiff was negligent. He should not have turned left into defendant’s path; instead, plaintiff should have yielded to defendant, who was going straight and who had the right of way (Vehicle and Traffic Law § 1141). In fact, plaintiff admits that he never even stopped his car before he turned – he turned the wheel to the left and kept moving until he crashed right into the side of defendant’s car. Defendant never saw him coming – she did not swerve and remained in her lane, which was next to the yellow line.

It rejected plaintiff’s argument that there was a question of fact as to defendant’s comparative negligence, citing the well-established rule “that a driver who has the right of way is entitled to anticipate that other drivers will obey the traffic laws that require them to yield and has no duty to watch for and avoid a driver who might not follow the rules of the road.”

Defendant met her prima facie burden of showing “that she was not negligent by presenting admissible evidence (deposition transcripts) that plaintiff made a left turn across the path of her oncoming vehicle in violation of VTL § 1141, and that defendant slammed on her brakes, but could not avoid the collision.”

In opposition, plaintiff failed to raise an issue of fact, since he “failed to contest defendant’s testimony that she was traveling with the right of way at or below the speed limit and that she was already in the intersection when plaintiff entered it and hit the side of her car with the front of his.”

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