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Monday, June 02, 2014

Courts - "Double-Parking Is Exception on Liability in Rear-End Crashes, NYC Trial Judge Says"

Interesting story in the NY Times May 27th, reported by Marc Santora. Some quotes:

From huge potholes to a taxi door suddenly swinging open into traffic, New York City drivers must routinely avoid all manner of unexpected events and hazards.

Yet almost without exception, drivers are responsible for avoiding such obstacles; if their vehicle strikes another, they are presumed to be negligent and at fault.

The one exception is a double-parked car.

In a ruling issued this month, a judge in State Supreme Court in Manhattan found that “double-parking is the only exception to the rule” found in previous case law “that the stopped front car is presumed not negligent.”

Justice Arlene P. Bluth wrote that in almost all cases, if a driver hits another vehicle from behind, that driver could be found negligent without a trial. But when the victim is double-parked, the matter is best left for a jury to decide.

“If plaintiff was moving and stopped suddenly because, say, she thought a child was about to dart out, or because she thought the architecture was interesting, or because a bee flew into her car and frightened her, then she would be entitled to summary judgment if defendant rear-ended her, because the defendant should have left enough room between the cars to stop in time,” she wrote.

“But if she was already stopped and double-parked,” the judge wrote, “being hit from the rear may be a reasonably foreseeable consequence of double parking on a busy Manhattan street, and the determination of negligence must be left to a jury.” * * *

The judge’s refusal to grant summary judgment was reported in The New York Law Journal.

Sean Coonerty, a managing partner at Seigel & Coonerty, a personal injury law firm, said it was perhaps worth the State Legislature’s revisiting the traffic laws so that a driver waiting for a space to open up would not be technically double-parking.

“But even if it does go to a jury, what is the difference?” Mr. Coonerty said. “There is no way a jury is going to find someone negligent who was waiting to park with their brake lights or hazard lights on.”

Posted by Marcia Oddi on June 2, 2014 09:35 AM
Posted to Courts in general