Trial Court Properly Declined to Charge Jury with the “Emergency Doctrine” in Bus Accident/Pedestrian Knockdown Personal Injury Case

In Delva v. New York City Tr. Auth., the Appellate Division, Second Department explained the “emergency doctrine” in the context of a pedestrian knockdown case.

A jury found in favor of plaintiff, and defendants moved to set aside the verdict pursuant to CPLR 4404(a). The trial court denied defendants’ motion, and the appellate court affirmed.

Specifically, the court rejected the defendants’ argument that the trial court erred by refusing to charge the jury as to the “emergency doctrine.”

The court explained the “emergency doctrine” as follows:

Under that doctrine, when an actor is faced with a sudden and unexpected circumstance which leaves little or no time for thought, deliberation or consideration, or causes the actor to be reasonably so disturbed that the actor must make a speedy decision without weighing alternative courses of conduct, the actor may not be negligent if the actions taken are reasonable and prudent in the emergency context. However, an instruction on the emergency doctrine should not be given where the defendant driver should reasonably have anticipated and been prepared to deal with the situation with which he or she was confronted.

In this case, “the record demonstrates that Anthony [Delva]’s presence in the crosswalk should reasonably have been anticipated in that it was neither sudden nor unexpected under the circumstances.”

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