Thursday, June 9, 2011

The Emergency Doctrine

A recent Appellate Division, Second Department court decision highlights the "emergency doctrine" as it applies in negligence cases.  In Brannan v. Korn, 923 N.Y.S.2d 345 (2d Dept. 2011), the plaintiff, while attempting to walk across a road in Nassau County, was struck by a hit and run driver and, as a result of the impact, was propelled onto a second vehicle operated by the defendant.  The Appellate Division, Second Department held that the plaintiff’s case against the defendant is dismissed because the defendant was faced with a valid emergency and therefore the application of the “emergency doctrine” bars the lawsuit.

The Court stated the following: “under the emergency doctrine, when an actor is faced with a sudden and unexpected circumstance which leaves little or no time for thought, deliberation or consideration, or causes the actor to be reasonably so disturbed that the actor must make a speedy decision without weighing alternative courses of conduct, the actor may not be negligent if the actions taken are reasonable and prudent in the emergency context.”

Salvatore R. Marino, Esq.

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