What is My Liability When another Driver Motioned That It Was Safe to Pull into Traffic When In Fact It Was Not Safe?

It is common for motorists to make it easier for other motorists to traverse the roads.  Some everyday examples would be permitting other drivers to merge or enter into another lane, for pedestrians to cross the street, and for others to enter a main road from a side road or parking lot.  This stems from a common courtesy to other individuals and to help motorists who do not have the right-of-way by voluntarily yielding to them.

Yes, we are talking about the gesture.  That is, when one motorists waves to another motorist to go ahead with his or her movement.  We have all been there when part of a class of drivers who understand what it means to “share the road”.  But as experienced motor vehicle accident attorneys, we have seen instances when the good will of a fellow motorist actually produced a roadway accident.

What you are doing when you wave is actually yielding the right-of-way which you have and giving it to another driver.  Thus, you are creating an obligation onto yourself to yield.  But there are different interpretations of what a gesture to another motorist actually means.

Is the gesture telling me it is safe to go?  Is it telling me I can proceed if I want?  Is it telling me that it is safe only if I think so?  Does it merely mean that the other driving gesturing to me will wait for me?  There can be many meanings to a simple gesture.  It is normal for one to ask, “if a motorist waived me into traffic or indicated that it was safe to cross the street when it was not in fact safe, am I liable for the consequences or is the person who waived me on liable?  Also, can all parties somehow be held liable together?”

Please understand that New York law requires all plaintiffs in negligence cases such as car accidents to prove: that the defendant owed the plaintiff a duty; breach of that duty; that the breach proximately caused the plaintiff’s injury; damages were suffered. 

Motor vehicle negligence cases are rarely easy to prove, and they become more complex when situations like the present discussion arise.  There must be proof that the “waving-on” motorist owed a duty to other motorists involved in the accident.  The “waved-on” motorist must be proved to have had a duty as well in order to be held liable for negligence. 

One might have to show that the “waved-on” driver completely relied on the judgment of the person waiving him on, and that such reliance was reasonable.  There might also be a need to determine if the “waved-on” driver acted independently in assessing the safety of proceeding according to the other motorist’s courtesy.

Not only will the reasonableness of the motorists’ actions be judged in comparison to that of another reasonable driver.  The circumstances of the accident in dispute must be considered.  So the plaintiff will want to show that another reasonable and prudent driver in the same or similar situation would not have done what the defendant ended up doing. 

Given the complexity of entering such proof into court’s evidence in front of a jury, only experienced attorneys should be used.  Such attorneys will also be able to articulate the proper award to which the plaintiff is entitled.  Also, since each party may be held accountable for their proportionate share of responsibility, the attorney will also show how much each party is responsible to contribute to the damages awarded. 

The attorneys at Greenberg and Greenberg handle car accident cases throughout New York State, including Columbia, Greene, Rensselaer, and Albany County.  Our legal team has earned a reputation for dedicated service to our clients injured in New York personal injury accidents.  Please contact us today to receive a free case evaluation by dialing locally to 518-828-3336 or call toll free at 877-469-9300.