None of us wants to imagine being injured in a winter-weather auto accident. Sometimes, though, certain types of vehicle accidents can be especially problematic if you have to sue for damages. For example, if you’re struck by a municipally owned vehicle, you may be facing especially high hurdles to clear to obtain a successful outcome. However, just because you’ve been hit by a municipal vehicle doesn’t mean you can’t win. You potentially may still have an avenue to success. Contact a knowledgeable New York truck accident lawyer about your case. An experienced attorney can help you analyze your pathways to success, even if the driver who hit you was driving a municipal vehicle.
One recent case from Buffalo demonstrated how an injured plaintiff can sidestep having his case dismissed, even though the vehicle that hit him was a city snowplow truck. The plaintiff, Abdul, was a driver who suffered injuries when his vehicle collided with a snowplow truck owned by the City of Buffalo. Abdul sued for his injuries.
If you are injured in an accident involving a snowplow truck or any other type of municipal vehicle, that vehicle’s status can be a major stumbling block to success in your case. Section 1103 of the Vehicle and Traffic Law says that municipal vehicles generally are exempt from the rules of the road if they are engaged in work on a highway. In other words, if a snowplow truck is actually in the process of plowing snow on a highway, its driver generally is not required to obey the rules of the road.
This exemption is not universal, though. If you’ve been hit by a snowplow or another municipal vehicle, it is not necessarily true that you have no case. There are still potential pathways to success. First, the statute does carve out an exception to the municipal vehicle’s exempt status, which is triggered if the municipal vehicle driver acts with “reckless disregard for the safety of others.” If you can prove recklessness, you can win regardless of the vehicle’s status as municipal.
Alternatively, you can improve your case’s odds if you can establish that the exemption doesn’t apply to the vehicle that hit you. Even if the vehicle is municipally owned, it has to be engaged in the act of working on a highway. If the driver isn’t actually doing highway work, the defendant is not entitled to claim the exemption, and the ordinary standard of negligence governs your case. This is a much lower standard and gives an injured plaintiff a much better chance of success.
The latter of these two avenues factored into Abdul’s case. The city asked the trial court to order summary judgment, dismissing the case. The trial judge refused, instead allowing the plaintiff’s case to go forward. The trial judge reasoned that the snowplow truck’s status at the time of the accident – namely, whether or not the truck driver was plowing or salting a road at the time of the crash – was still in dispute, since Abdul had sufficient evidence to make a viable argument that the driver was not working on the road when the crash took place.
Since the plaintiff had a viable case that the driver wasn’t working and had a viable case that the driver’s actions constituted negligence under the “ordinary negligence standard of care,” his case was strong enough to allow him to go to trial.
Even if there are certain legal or factual issues that make your case especially complicated, don’t give up. Reach out to the skilled Queens truck accident attorneys at Newman, Anzalone & Newman, who can help you assess your case. Our team has been helping injured people for many years with pursuing compensation for their truck accident injuries. To schedule a free consultation with one of our qualified attorneys, contact us toll-free at 718-896-2700 or through our website.
More Blog Posts:
Proving a ‘Serious’ Injury in Your New York Auto Accident Case, New York Personal Injury Lawyers Blog, July 20, 2017
As NYC digs out from snow, drivers advised to use extreme caution, New York Personal Injury Lawyers Blog, Jan. 26, 2016