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New York Court Examines Liability Arising Out of the Reckless Disregard for the Safety of Others

Generally, in a lawsuit arising out of a car accident, the party named as a defendant will be the driver of a vehicle involved in the collision. In some cases, though, other parties may be deemed liable for harm arising out of a car accident. Specifically, as shown in a recent New York ruling issued in a car crash case, if a person drives with reckless disregard for the safety of others, they could be found liable for any harm that ensues, even if they were not involved in the crash. If you were injured in a collision, it is wise to consult a Rochester, personal injury attorney about your potential claims.

The Facts of the Case

It is reported that in November 2011, the plaintiffs, who were police officers, were driving in a police vehicle. They then witnessed a high-speed chase involving another police department and the defendant driver. The defendant driver and the other police vehicle were driving at approximately 100 mph through a high-traffic area when the defendant driver lost control of his vehicle and collided with the plaintiffs’ vehicle.

Allegedly, the plaintiffs both suffered injuries, after which they filed a lawsuit against the defendants. The defendant police officers filed a motion for summary judgment, arguing that they could not be deemed liable for the collision as they were not involved in the collision. The trial court granted the motion, and the plaintiffs appealed.

Liability Arising Out of the Reckless Disregard for the Safety of Others

On appeal, the court reversed the trial court ruling. The court explained that, under New York law, a driver of an emergency vehicle, when involved in an emergency operation, can exercise certain privileges, including exceeding the speed limit and disregarding red lights and stop signs. In doing so, however, they must drive with due regard for the safety of others. Further, they can be held responsible for the consequences of their reckless disregard for the safety of others.

Under the reckless disregard standard, the plaintiff must show that the defendant intentionally acted in an unreasonable way in disregard of an obvious or known risk that was so substantial it made it highly likely that harm would occur and did so with a conscious disregard of the outcome. In the subject case, the court found that the trial court erred in determining, as a matter of law, that the defendant officers did not act recklessly, as a factual dispute existed on the issue. Thus, it reversed the trial court ruling.

Meet with a Seasoned Rochester Personal Injury Lawyer

People injured in motor vehicle accidents can often recover damages, and in some cases, more than one party will be deemed liable. If you were harmed in a motor vehicle collision, it is smart to speak to an attorney regarding your rights as soon as possible. The seasoned Rochester medical malpractice lawyers of DeFrancisco & Falgiatano Personal Injury Lawyers take pride in helping people hurt by the negligence of others in the pursuit of damages, and if you engage our services, we will work hard to aid you in the pursuit of justice. You can reach us via our form online or by calling us at 585-653-7343 to set up a conference.

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