Defendant’s Failure to Yield at Intersection Results in Summary Judgment for Plaintiff in Car Accident Case

One of the so-called “rules of the road”, New York Vehicle and Traffic Law (VTL) § 1142[a], provides:

Vehicle entering stop or yield intersection (a) Except when directed to proceed by a police officer, every driver of a vehicle approaching a stop sign shall stop as required by [VTL § 1172] and after having stopped shall yield the right of way to any vehicle which has entered the intersection from another highway or which is approaching so closely on said highway as to constitute an immediate hazard during the time when such driver is moving across or within the intersection.

In Lilaj v. Ferentinos (decided March 25, 2015), the Appellate Division, Second Department applied this provision to affirm summary judgment for plaintiff.

Here are the facts:

This action to recover damages for personal injuries arises out of a motor vehicle accident which occurred on January 2, 2013, at the intersection of 21st Avenue and 36th Street in Astoria. The plaintiff was driving on 21st Avenue, when her vehicle collided with the vehicle operated by the defendant, who was driving on 36th Street. It is undisputed that a stop sign governs traffic proceeding on 36th Street at the subject intersection, but that no traffic device governs traffic proceeding on 21st Avenue.

Citing VTL § 1142[a] and case law, the court held:

The plaintiff established her prima facie entitlement to judgment as a matter of law on the issue of liability by demonstrating that the defendant drove into an intersection controlled by a stop sign without yielding the right-of-way to her approaching vehicle. As the driver with the right-of-way, the plaintiff was entitled to assume that the defendant would obey the traffic laws requiring him to yield.

In opposition to the plaintiff’s prima facie showing, the defendant failed to raise a triable issue of fact. Although the defendant testified at his deposition that he came to a stop at the stop sign before proceeding into the intersection, the question of whether the defendant stopped at the stop sign is not dispositive, since the evidence established that he failed to yield even if he did stop. Furthermore, since the defendant admitted at his deposition that he did not see the plaintiff’s vehicle prior to the collision, his assertions that the plaintiff may have been speeding or negligent in failing to take evasive action were speculative.

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