On May 1st, the Second Department affirmed a summary judgment ruling in favor of a defendant NYC bus in a personal injury case involving a fall. The plaintiff had sued for personal injury after falling inside the bus when the driver stopped short. The defendant, New York City Transit Authority, was granted summary judgment by the Supreme Court in Queens. The driver of the bus testified that a car had swerved in front of him while making an illegal lane change, which led to the sudden braking. It was the jolt from this short stop that caused the plaintiff’s fall and subsequent injury.
The appellate court, in affirming the order, cited the emergency doctrine, which states that an individual may not be held negligent for reasonable and prudent actions in the face of an emergency, if the emergency is sudden, unexpected, and not of the individual’s own making. Left with no time to reflect on a course of action, the individual avoids liability if his or her actions are reasonable within the context of the emergency. As the plaintiff failed to raise a triable issue of fact in response to the emergency doctrine presented by the defendant, the court granted summary judgment for the defendant, and now the Second Department has affirmed. To avoid a collision, and the risk of serious injury to the other driver and the other passengers on the bus, the driver acted reasonably and prudently in his sudden application of the brake. Thus, although one passenger was injured, the driver’s actions were protected by the emergency doctrine.
The full Order by the Appellate Court can be found here on the New York Official Reports website.