02

Blog

Summons for Violation of NYC’s “Right of Way” Law Leads to Early Settlement of Cyclist’s Claim

An ongoing problem in New York State is the inability of a Police Officer to issue a traffic violation for an event they did not witness. Even if 10 witnesses confirm that a vehicle ran a red light and struck a cyclist, a Police Officer’s ability to write a summons is limited unless the event was actually witnessed by the complaining Officer.

To overcome this problem, New York City recently enacted NYC Admin. Code Sec. 19-190, also known as the “Right of Way Law”. This law allows the issuance of a Summons or even an arrest of a driver for violation of 19-190 even though not actually witnessed by the Officer. By increasing the penalty from a traffic violation to a misdemeanor, a summons can be issued or arrest made as a misdemeanor does not require the officer to actually witness the event occur.

The highlights of the Statute are as follows:

19-190 Right of way:

… any driver of a motor vehicle who fails to yield to a pedestrian or person riding a bicycle when such pedestrian or person has the right of way shall be guilty of a traffic infraction, which shall be punishable by a fine of not more than fifty dollars or imprisonment for not more than fifteen days or both such fine and imprisonment…

,.. any driver of a motor vehicle who violates subdivision a of this section and whose motor vehicle causes contact with a pedestrian or person riding a bicycle and thereby causes physical injury, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor, which shall be punishable by a fine of not more than two hundred fifty dollars, or imprisonment for not more than thirty days or both such fine and imprisonment…

How does this help cyclists in a civil case when the summons is issued?

Earlier this year we received a call from a cyclist struck on W. 20th Street in Manhattan. The cyclist was lawfully in the bike lane when a driver attempted to pull into a parking space between the curb and the bike lane. In a rush to get to the spot, she crossed over the bike lane and struck the cyclist. As a result of the crash, our client sustained a severely separated shoulder requiring surgery.

NYC Google Maps
Photo credit: Google Maps

After being retained, we obtained the Police report. Unbeknownst to our client, the officer issued the driver a summons for violating 19-190, NYC’s “Right of Way” law. This is something we rarely see without an injury classified as “likely to die” or death.

Several months later, we checked the DMV records and learned the driver never contested the summons, entered a plea of guilty, and paid the fine.

NYC Ticket

How does this help cyclists in a civil case when the summons is issued?

The ability to contest the fault of the crash was now over for the driver. A plea of guilty in NY prohibits the ability of the motorist to re-litigate the issue of fault in a civil action. With this evidence in hand, the matter was settled for the full insurance policy of the driver without the matter even needing to be placed into a suit.

NYC’s “Right of Way” law has been come to an exceptional tool for NYC prosecutors to pursue criminal charges against drivers when just a few years ago, no remedy existed. Typically criminal cases would only be pursued by prosecutors with clear proof of criminality such as driving under the influence or excessive speed.

While some Judges still grapple with the “negligence vs. criminal “aspect of the statute, we have seen an uptick in convictions of drivers that have caused serious injury or death behind the wheel. This includes a rash of prosecutions against MTA bus drivers, much to the dismay of their union. It is our hope that the rest of New York adopts a similar statute seen in New York City to make it easier for prosecutors around the State to pursue charges against reckless and dangerous drivers.

Comments

Ash Our Streets
Daniel Brazil Jan 13, 2021

As a Minneapolis-based attorney, I live, work, play and bike in the city. Although my city might be known for its lakes and our infamous Juicy Lucy, Minneapolis’ dedication to having safer streets for all should be included in that list. To reach the safe streets goal, numerous non-profit organizations and groups are working tirelessly […]

Read More
Ambassador
Rachael Maney Jan 11, 2021

Applications for the Bike Law Foundation Ambassador Program are now live. CLICK HERE FOR THE APPLICATION. The deadline to apply is Sunday, January 24th. Those selected will be notified on or before February 1. Thanks for your support and willingness to work together to make bicycling safer for all. We are committed to you, to one another, and […]

Read More
3-foot passing close call
Charlie Thomas Jan 11, 2021

It happens all the time: Someone emails me video footage, clearly showing they were biking along when a car buzzes past, coming within inches of a horrible crash — and there’s nothing I can do about it because we don’t have the laws in place to do something to help. Luckily, that might be about […]

Read More
killing cyclist bike law
Rachael Maney Dec 22, 2020

BIKE LAW ANNOUNCES THE INDICTMENT OF CARL BEHLER FOR KILLING CYCLIST AND INJURING OTHERS   Today, Carl Behler appeared in court for the first time for killing cyclist Arthur Carter and injuring others. He was indicted on Friday (12/18) by the Anne Arundel County Grand Jury and promptly arrested and detained for 7 crimes related […]

Read More
Bicycle Mayor
Bruce Hagen Dec 03, 2020

When I (Maria of Bike Law Georgia) called Pattie Baker, the first Metro Atlanta Bicycle Mayor, she was trudging through marshland on her bicycle on Alpharetta’s Big Creek Greenway. I pictured her in my mind with her bike, wearing her signature skirts, and mud on her sandals. Always on the go, the newly minted Metro […]

Read More
Alabama Bike Advocacy
Danny Feldman Dec 02, 2020

When Alabama bike advocate Jamie Miernik was growing up in Minneapolis, Minnesota, she dreamed of being an astronaut.  And today, although she is not an astronaut, as a chemical engineer who worked for Boeing on the NASA space station project, she put her knowledge and talents to use keeping the astronauts safe and sound in […]

Read More
Local bike shop Atlanta Bike Shop Mechanic
Bruce Hagen Nov 06, 2020

We have so many amazing local bike shops in the Atlanta Metro Area and in Georgia that it’s hard to single out any for the service that they provide, but here’s a short list of some of the shops from various parts of town and throughout the state. Eight Great Local Bike Shops in Georgia […]

Read More
Justice Ginsberg Bike Law
Lauri Boxer-Macomber Nov 03, 2020

Last month after Justice Ginsberg passed away, I went on one of those long solo rides to pedal things out.  I was hoping that time in the saddle would help settle the emotional torrent within me.  On one hand, I was feeling driven, empowered, and more motivated than ever to step things up a notch […]

Read More
Women on Bikes Rachael
Peter Wilborn Oct 11, 2020

Rachael Maney is the Director of the Bike Law Network and of the non-profit Bike Law Foundation. As most of you know, she has spent the last two weeks on these pages profiling 16 Women on Bikes leading up to yesterday’s inaugural Women’s Cycling Day. If you haven’t yet, read her profiles of and conversations with […]

Read More
Load More