NY Court Declares Sun Glare a Non-Emergency in Fatal Traffic Accident

by emallernee | October 13th, 2011

October 14, 2011

On Thursday a New York Court of Appeals ruled that the glare of the setting sun doesn’t qualify as an emergency that excuses ordinary negligence behind the wheel.

A Syracuse man had claimed that the blinding sun caused him to experience a “sudden and unexpected circumstance” when he made a left turn and hit and killed a pedestrian in February 2000.

The Wall Street Journal reports that the court, which voted 5-2, is now sending the man’s case back to trial court, where a jury initially decided that the city of Syracuse was 15 percent negligent and the victim 85 percent at fault.

During the most recent trial, jurors were asked to take note of the emergency doctrine, which says that drivers in emergencies “cannot reasonably be held to the same accuracy of judgment or conduct as one who has a full opportunity to reflect.”

“It is well known, and therefore cannot be considered a sudden and unexpected circumstance, that the sun can interfere with one’s vision as it nears the horizon at sunset, particularly when one is heading west,” wrote Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman in the majority opinion. “This is not to say that sun glare can never generate an emergency situation but, under the circumstances presented, there is no reasonable view of the evidence under which sun glare constitutes a qualifying emergency.”

Read more.

If you or someone you know were the victim of a New York auto accident, the New York accident lawyers at the Law Offices of William Mattar may be able to help you.