Near-Fatal Common Carrier Wreck in Upstate New York
September 22 2016
An onrushing car reportedly rear-ended an SUV taxicab that was parked on the shoulder of Interstate-684 in North Salem, NY. The car crash seriously injured the taxi’s passenger.
There are few clues in the wreck, which occurred near the intersection of I-684 and Hardscrabble Road. According to New York State Police, a Nissan Pathfinder approached the stopped taxi from behind and smacked into it. Authorities are unsure why the taxi was stopped or why the Pathfinder’s driver rammed into the back of the other vehicle.
At any rate, the force of the collision seriously injured the taxi passenger, who was probably in the middle seat. He was rushed to a nearby hospital, but he is expected to survive.
Breach in a Car-for-Hire Case in New York
New York courts did away with the enhanced duty of care for common carriers some time ago, but taxi drivers, bus drivers, and other common carriers still owe an enhanced duty of care to their own passengers. This duty starts when the passenger opens the door to get in, and it does not end until the passengers arrive safely at their destinations. Given the popularity of rideshare services like Uber and Lyft, these legal questions about liability and duties of care will probably become more and more common in coming years.
In addition to having a duty to drive safely, common carriers also have a duty to ensure personal safety. Train operators must break up fights on the train, bus drivers must avoid sudden violent maneuvers if at all possible, and Uber drivers cannot pull away the instant that their passengers disembark.
Sudden Emergency Defense in NY Car Accident Lawsuits
To reduce or deny liability, insurance companies often invoke the sudden emergency defense. If it applies, this doctrine excuses otherwise negligent behavior. There are two prongs to the defense:
- The driver must react to a “sudden emergency,” in the legal sense of the phrase.
- The driver must react reasonably.
This scene from the 1995 movie Tommy Boy illustrates both elements of the defense. The hood fly-up is a “sudden emergency” because it is a completely unanticipated situation. Conversely, stalled cars, large potholes, and pedestrians crossing against the light are more routine and therefore do not qualify as sudden emergencies. In this particular clip, however, the sudden emergency defense probably does not apply because Tommy (Chris Farley) drove recklessly after the hood flew up.
For prompt assistance with a car crash claim in New York or anywhere else, contact an attorney who makes negligent drivers pay. At Proner & Proner, our firm has a small-town atmosphere and access to nationwide resources. We are here to help you get the compensation you need, want, and deserve.