FOR BREAKING NEWS VISIT WWW.QNS.COM SEPTEMBER 26, 2019 • THE QUEENS COURIER 81
A PROPER LOOKOUT
Q: I was heading toward an intersection. On the other street, so was a van.
Although we had no stop sign, he did. The next thing I remember is waking up in the
A: Presumably, you will argue that the van driver violated Vehicle and Traffic
Law § 1142(a) in that he failed to yield the right-of-way – by driving through the stop
sign. You were entitled to assume that the van driver would obey the law requiring him
to yield. However, you also had an obligation to keep a proper lookout and see what
could be seen through the reasonable use of your senses. If you failed to do that, you too
may be found, at least partially, at fault.
One issue is the distance of each vehicle from the intersection when its driver
first saw, or should have seen, the other vehicle. Another is the rate of each vehicle's
speed. There are many ways to estimate that speed, such as the distance traveled after
impact. In general, although not necessarily, the shorter the distance, the slower was
If you were speeding, then the van driver is likely to argue that he did not
realize you were – and was justified in thinking that you would not reach the
intersection before he passed through it. If music was blaring in your car even after the
accident, or there is evidence that you were on your cellphone, the van driver will have
even more to say.
At the outset, your attorney will want to see the police accident report.
Perhaps it contains the van driver's admission that he had failed to stop, before
proceeding. Perhaps there is testimony from a police officer that he asked the van
driver to pull over, and then observed that the driver had bloodshot and watery eyes,
slurred speech, and a flushed face.
As you see, often, section 1142(a) can be just a starting point in
understanding a case like yours, and far from the only circumstance to be considered.
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