Plaintiff Bicyclist Entitled to Summary Judgment in Bus Accident Personal Injury Case

In Velasquez v. MTA Bus Co., 2015 NY Slip Op 07536 (App. Div. 1st Dept. Oct. 15, 2015), the court unanimously affirmed Supreme Court Judge Arlene Bluth’s Order granting plaintiff – an injured bicyclist – summary judgment on the issue of liability.

In reaching its decision, the court cited to Vehicle and Traffic Law §§ 1122[a] and 1128.

VTL § 1122(a) provides:

(a) The driver of a vehicle overtaking another vehicle proceeding in the same direction shall pass to the left thereof at a safe distance and shall not again drive to the right side of the roadway until safely clear of the overtaken vehicle.

VTL § 1128 provides (in part) that “[a] vehicle shall be driven as nearly as practicable entirely within a single lane and shall not be moved from such lane until the driver has first ascertained that such movement can be made with safety.”

From the decision:

Plaintiff made a prima facie showing of negligence on the part of defendant bus driver by relying on the parties’ deposition testimony, which showed that the accident occurred when plaintiff was riding his bicycle in the middle lane of traffic, and defendant bus driver came up behind him and, without honking or signaling, moved the bus toward the left lane in an attempt to pass the bicycle. According to defendant driver, the contact between the front side of the bus and the bicycle occurred while the bus was straddling the middle and left lanes. The evidence that defendant driver made an unsafe lane change, without signaling or leaving a safe distance between the vehicles in violation of traffic laws, establishes defendants’ negligence (see Vehicle and Traffic Law § 1122[a], 1128…).

Furthermore, the parties both testified that plaintiff was in the middle lane at all times, and defendant driver admitted that he had taken his eyes off plaintiff in the seconds before the accident in order to check his mirror. Thus, defendant driver’s testimony that he believed the accident occurred because plaintiff merged toward the left into the bus is speculative and insufficient to raise an issue of fact.

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