New York Motorist Blinded By Sun Can Be Held Liable In An Accident

Saturday’s Post 10/29/11 –  A New York Court came up with a decision regarding a driver from Syracuse who killed a pedestrian while being glared by sun’s rays cannot appeal for an “emergency doctrine”.  In the decision released by New York State Supreme Court of Appeals last October 13, 2011, an attentive driver would be mindful that the sun’s glare would interrupt his driving along the road. With this, the case should be pursued since the accident manifests the driver’s inattentiveness.

The incident happened late February in Syracuse near an office complex. The place is bound to have a number of road accidents because of heavy pedestrian traffic around the area. Derek Klink was driving that morning when he was distracted by the sun’s glare and struck Irene Lifson while she was crossing the street near the complex. The Complainant took legal actions to sue Klink and the city of Syracuse. The complaint alleges says that Klink is a negligent driver and the failure of the city to plan for pedestrian traffic. The subsequent trial was limited to the issue of liability.

In the testimony of Klink about the accident, he was temporarily blinded by the glare. He stopped at the stop sign and made a left turn but his view of the oncoming traffic was partly obstructed by cars found on the left lane. For him to see approaching vehicle, he had to go through his car’s window.

The heavy mass of pedestrian crossing was seen by Klink, and he was sure that the road was clear before he made a left turn by turning his head on the different directions. His attention was focused on his right (toward the incoming traffic). When he looked back to his left, he was blinded by the sun all of a sudden. Because of the glare, he looked down to his right and when he looked up, he saw Lifson. Although he used the brake, he did not manage to avoid hitting Lifson, having her seen some seconds before the collision.  The lower court favored the driver’s testimony and said that he was only confronted with an emergency which he has no control. The jury is willing to reject such proposition, but if it will be proven that he had faced an emergency and acted reasonably, then it was to find Klink.


Michael E. Dortch
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