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Court considered whether the City was liable for a car accident where a police officer hit a bicyclist. Caballero v. City of New York, 208 A.D.2d 443 (1st Dep’t 1994)


Bicycle accidents are a common occurrence in New York City, and they can have devastating consequences. When a bicyclist is involved in an accident with a motor vehicle, the results can be catastrophic. The bicyclist is often left with serious injuries, including broken bones, head trauma, and spinal cord injuries, and may face a long road to recovery. Caballero v. City of New York dealt with the issue of negligence in bicycle-car accidents.

In Caballero v. City of New York, the accident occurred on October 11, 1989, at the intersection of 40th Street and 6th Avenue in Manhattan. The plaintiff, Ramon Caballero, was riding his bicycle eastbound on 40th Street, approaching the intersection with 6th Avenue. At the same time, a New York City police officer, who was driving a marked police car, was traveling southbound on 6th Avenue.

The police officer approached the intersection and attempted to make a left turn onto 40th Street, crossing in front of the bicyclist. According to the plaintiff’s testimony, the officer failed to yield the right of way to the bicyclist and struck him as he was passing through the intersection.

The impact of the collision caused the plaintiff to be thrown from his bicycle, and he suffered serious injuries as a result. He was taken to a nearby hospital for treatment, where he was diagnosed with a fractured shoulder blade, several broken ribs, and a collapsed lung.

The plaintiff filed a lawsuit against the City of New York, alleging that the police officer had been negligent in his operation of the vehicle and that the City was vicariously liable for his actions. The case ultimately went to trial, where a jury found in favor of the plaintiff and awarded him damages for his injuries.

The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of the defendants, finding that Caballero was responsible for the accident because he failed to exercise due care by riding his bicycle into the path of the car. Caballero appealed the decision, arguing that the trial court erred in its interpretation of the law.

Discussion and Decision
The appellate court reversed the decision of the trial court and remanded the case for a trial on the issue of damages. The court held that the trial court’s interpretation of the law was incorrect and that the driver of the car owed a duty of care to Caballero as a cyclist on the road.

The court based its decision on several factors. First, the court noted that under New York law, drivers are required to exercise reasonable care in the operation of their vehicles to avoid collisions with other vehicles and pedestrians. Second, the court noted that bicycles are considered vehicles under New York law and are entitled to the same rights and protections as other vehicles on the road. Third, the court noted that the driver of the car had a duty to keep a proper lookout and avoid collisions with other vehicles, including bicycles.

The court also rejected the argument that Caballero was at fault for the accident because he failed to exercise due care. The court held that there was no evidence to suggest that Caballero acted recklessly or negligently in riding his bicycle, and that he had the right to assume that the driver of the car would obey traffic laws and exercise reasonable care in the operation of the vehicle.

Caballero v. City of New York is an important case for cyclists and motorists in New York City. The case established a legal precedent for the duty of care owed by drivers towards cyclists on the road and helped clarify the rights and responsibilities of cyclists and motorists in the city. The case also highlights the importance of seeking legal representation in the event of a bicycle-car accident, as a skilled New York bicycle accident lawyer can help protect your rights and ensure that you receive fair compensation for your injuries.

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