What NY & NJ Drivers Need to Know About the Emergency Doctrine

By Kantrowitz, Goldhamer & Graifman, P.C.Auto Accident

In both New York and New Jersey, a driver who causes an accident and that driver’s insurance company will generally be responsible for paying the costs of the other driver’s property losses and injuries. The negligent driver, however, might try to minimize or eliminate his or her liability by claiming that due to sudden and unexpected circumstances that were not of their own making and that left them no time to react, i.e., an “emergency”, their actions were reasonable and prudent and, therefore, they should not be held responsible for an injured party’s costs and expenses.

If you were seriously hurt in a car accident, the at-fault driver may try to use the emergency doctrine to evade liability for your damages. An experienced law firm like Kantrowitz, Goldhamer & Graifman can counter these arguments and gather evidence to show the true circumstances of the crash.

What kinds of emergencies are courts likely to consider?

New York and New Jersey courts will apply the emergency doctrine to reduce a negligent driver’s liability only under very limited circumstances, including:

  • When a pedestrian is suddenly pushed into a roadway in front of the driver
  • When the driver experiences a sudden medical event, such as a heart attack
  • When the driver has to make a sudden maneuver to avoid another negligent driver

When car accident evidence shows that the driver could or should have anticipated a sudden event, the doctrine will not apply. A skilled car accident attorney can show how the evidence proves that, for example, the negligent driver was following too closely behind another vehicle or was driving too fast.

Does the emergency doctrine affect comparative negligence?

New York and New Jersey courts apply forms of comparative negligence to car crash cases such that the damages that an injured party can recover will be reduced in proportion to that party’s own contribution to the accident. Comparative negligence and the emergency doctrine are both functions of the specific facts in each case. A knowledgeable lawyer will scrutinize those facts to fight for the compensation that an injured party deserves to recover.

Call Kantrowitz, Goldhamer, & Graifman for a Free Consultation

The law firm of Kantrowitz, Goldhamer & Graifman represent injured drivers and passengers in car accident lawsuits in Rockland and Bergen Counties and elsewhere in New York and New Jersey. We have successfully rebutted attempts by negligent drivers to escape liability by relying on the emergency doctrine. We will evaluate the facts in your case to fight for the largest available damages award that will compensate you for the full range of your losses and injuries.

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