In Brannan v Korn, Second Department, May 24, 2011, an action to recover damages for personal injuries, The Court granted defendants’ motion for summary judgment dismissing the complaint based on the emergency doctrine. The plaintiff, while attempting to walk across Ring Road, in Garden City, New York, 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 Joseph D. Korn. The Court held that while “… the existence of an emergency and the reasonableness of the response to it generally present issues of fact, those issues “may in appropriate circumstances be determined as a matter of law” (Vitale v Levine, 44 AD3d 935)…” The Court went on to hold that the defendants were entitiled to judgment as a matter of law.
“The evidence submitted by the respondents in support of their motion for summary judgment established that Korn was faced with an emergency situation, not of his own making, leaving him with seconds to react and virtually no opportunity to avoid a collision (see Lonergan v Almo, 74 AD3d 902). Under these circumstances, the respondents established their prima facie entitlement to judgment as a matter of law. In opposition, the plaintiff’s speculative and conclusory assertions failed to raise a triable issue of fact as to whether Korn’s reaction to the emergency was unreasonable, or whether any negligence on his part proximately contributed to bringing about the emergency or the accident.”
One must wonder if plaintiff submitted a detailed affidavit of an accident reconstruction expert. In any auto accident case in which the emergency defense is applicable the plaintiff’s attorney must retain an experienced accident reconstruction expert, not a “generic” expert who will do a detailed site scene analysis, review all testimony, police reports, etc. and be able to state, not speculate, that to a reasonable degree of professional certainty, the defendant driver had time to react and avoid the accident. The affidavit must explain in minute detail the foundation for the expert’s opinion that the defendant had sufficient time to avoid the accident.
As we stated several years ago in a prior post, “NEW YORK AUTOMOBILE ACCIDENTS, THE EMERGENCY DOCTRINE” “The lesson to be learned is that in a New York Automobile Accident in which the Emergency Doctrine may be implicated GET AN EXPERT. A qualified accident reconstruction expert is able, using long accepted methodology, to analyze a driver’s perception of a situation as a hazard, to analyze the driver’s decision as to how to avoid the hazard and to analyze the driver’s performance as to the actions undertaken to avoid the hazard. The qualified expert will be able to give opinions on the driver’s reaction time from perception of the hazard and whether the driver reacted in a timely manner in order to avoid the hazard.”