Laws do not just tell us what we can and cannot do for no reason. All laws
have a purpose for its enactment, even if it does not feel that way. These
purposes range from promoting administrative and orderly functions, to
codifying public policy and ensuring safety. In fact, there are a lot
of laws, which promote safety. When these laws are broken, this is not
just a violation, which could result in a monetary fine or jail, but it
could also result in
serious personal injury or even death. This is why many of the vehicle and traffic laws have safety in mind—to
prevent injury and death.
New York has recently enacted several laws, which promote safety. One example
is New York’s “Move Over Law.” This law was enacted
to help protect law enforcement officers, emergency workers such as fire
rescue and EMS, tow and service vehicles, construction workers, and other
maintenance workers stopped alongside roadways. The reason for this law
is because many law enforcement officers and construction workers have
lost their lives on the side of the road due to
highway accidents. A significant number of these accidents could have been avoided if motorists
provided more space and slowed down near these emergency and maintenance workers.
The Move Over law requires drivers to use due care when approaching these
stopped vehicles when the emergency lights or amber construction lights
are activated. As the name implies, this law requires drivers to move
over to another lane and leave a lane’s space in between themselves
and the emergency or maintenance vehicle. This must be done whenever possible,
as long as performing such lane change is safe and reasonable. Thus, a
driver is not obligated to change lanes if it would be dangerous to do
so or impossible, such as in heavy traffic. This law also requires drivers
to slow down near emergency or maintenance vehicles.
Another New York law, which has safety in mind is New York’s harsher
cell phone statute. Distracted driving is becoming a very serious issue
throughout the United States, including New York. Most distracted drivers
are using their cell phone to make calls, send text messages, and send
emails. These acts are very dangerous while driving. Young drivers, particularly
those in high school and college, are most likely to be
driving distracted and using their electronic devices while driving. When a driver’s
attention is diverted, it can easily result in serious personal injuries
and even death.
As a result, New York’s new cell phone laws establish stiffer penalties
for all drivers, particularly those who just got their license or who
have a learner’s permit. Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced about
a year ago that violations of texting while driving are now five (5) points
against one’s license, up from three (3) points. This is in additional
to mandatory fines and surcharges, as well as a moving violation on your
driver’s abstract. Note that six (6) points triggers condition DMV
fees and extra scrutiny to your license.
Yet, there are thousands of motor vehicle accidents in New York each year.
Many of these accidents are the result of a direct violation of a vehicle
and traffic law, including violations of New York’s Move Over law
and cell phone law. These accidents can result in very serious injuries
and significant pain and suffering. When accidents caused by the violation
of a statute result in personal injuries, the violator may be negligent
as a matter of law and allow the victim to recover compensation through
the doctrine of negligence per se.
Essentially, negligence per se is a legal doctrine, which holds that the
violation of certain laws automatically results in a finding of negligence.
In order to establish negligence per se, the injured victim must prove
three main elements. The first element is obvious—that the defendant
violated the statute in question. The second element is that the act caused
a harm, which the law was designed to prevent. The third and final element
is that the victim who was injured was a member of the statute’s
Thus, when a defendant fails to slow down and move over one lane and injures
an emergency worker on the side of the roadway, it is likely a court will
find the defendant negligent as a matter of law. This is because the defendant
violated the Move Over statute, the law enforcement officer was injured
by a motor vehicle on the side of the roadway, and the emergency worker
was on the side of the roadway, which is the exact class of persons protected
by the statute.
Our personal injury attorneys at
Mainetti, Mainetti, and O’Connor, P.C. have over 100 years of combined experience working with victims of personal
injury accidents throughout New York. We understand how to effectively
represent clients who have been injured in serious car accidents, particularly
throughout the Mid-Hudson Valley region in Kingston, Poughkeepsie, and
Newburgh where we have offices. Hear
what our clients are saying about us here and learn about just some of our
successful results here. If you or a loved one has been injured in a personal injury accident,
please do not hesitate to contact us by calling 845-340-HURT (4878) or
toll free at 866-440-4452, or by using theconvenient contact form here.