Left Turn Without Yielding Right of Way Results in Summary Judgment for Plaintiff in Car Accident Case

In Foley v. Santucci, 2016 NY Slip Op 00330 (App. Div. 2nd Dept. Jan. 20, 2016), a car accident case, the court reversed the denial of plaintiff’s motion for summary judgment.

It explained:

[Non-party witness affidavits] demonstrated that the sole proximate cause of the subject accident was the defendant driver’s violation of Vehicle and Traffic Law § 1141 in making a left turn into the path of the injured plaintiff’s oncoming vehicle without yielding the right-of-way. As the driver with the right-of-way, the injured plaintiff was entitled to anticipate that the defendant driver would obey the traffic laws which required her to yield. Although a driver with a right-of-way also has a duty to use reasonable care to avoid a collision, . . . a driver with the right-of-way who has only seconds to react to a vehicle which has failed to yield is not comparatively negligent for failing to avoid the collision. Contrary to the Supreme Court’s determination, the injured plaintiff established, prima facie, her freedom from comparative fault by showing that she had only seconds to react to the defendants’ vehicle, which failed to yield.

The court also held that defendants failed to raise a triable issue fact as to comparative negligence, noting further that “[w]hether the injured plaintiff may have been driving at a speed in excess of 5 or 10 miles per hour over the speed limit is inconsequential inasmuch as the defendants did not raise a triable issue as to whether the injured plaintiff could have avoided the accident even if she had been traveling at or below the posted speed limit.”

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