What is Considered an Emergency? (NY)
In Penaranda v. Tesoriero, the Appellate Division, Second Department addressed whether the defendant – Gringhaus was entitled to summary judgment dismissing the plaintiff’s complaint in a hit-in-the-rear motor vehicle accident.
Plaintiff alleged personal injuries in connection with a motor vehicle accident when the defendant – Tesoriero cross a double yellow line, entering the opposing lane of traffic when he struck plaintiff’s vehicle head on. This collision caused plaintiff’s vehicle to push backwards, colliding with a vehicle operated by defendant Gringhaus.
The court stated, “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”.
The court held that Gringhaus established her entitlement as a matter of law as she was faced with an emergency not of her own making, “which left her with only seconds to react and virtually no opportunity to avoid a collision.”
This decision serves as a reminder that if a party to a motor vehicle accident only had “seconds to react”, the emergency doctrine may apply.
Thanks to Corey Morgenstern for his contribution to this post. Please email Georgia Coats with any questions.