Citation. Court of Appeals of New York, 1939. 280 N.Y. 124, 19 N.E.2d 987..
Brief Fact Summary.
The plaintiffs, the Tedla’s, were walking on the right side of the road in violation of a pedestrian statute and were struck by the defendant’s vehicle resulting in injury. The defendant, Mr. Ellman hit the plaintiffs with his vehicle from behind. Due to the plaintiff’s violation of the statute, the defendant sues on claims of contributory negligence.
Synopsis of Rule of Law.
The violation of a statute alone does not make a person automatically negligent.
The plaintiffs, the Tedla’s, were walking on the right side of the road in violation of a pedestrian statute and were struck by the defendant’s vehicle resulting in injury. The defendant, Mr. Ellman, hit the plaintiffs with his vehicle from behind. Mr. Ellamn’s negligence has already been proven at trial, but the plaintiffs’ negligence is at issue. The governing statute states that pedestrians must walk on the road’s left side so vehicles may always pass them on the right. The plaintiffs were walking on the right side of the road at the time of the accident because there was heavy traffic on the left side. The defendant is alleging that the plaintiff’s violation of this statute makes them contributorily negligent.
Whether the violation of statute alone makes a party negligent?
No, the violation of statute alone does not makes a party negligent.
No, the violation of statute alone does not makes a party negligent. When the state gives a standard of care, then the failure to exercise that care is negligence. The standard for everyone is to exercise the same care a reasonable person deems necessary under the circumstances. Still, sometimes it is difficult to determine reasonability, and the legislature defines what that duty of care is. When the legislature has defined the duty of care to protect life and limb, it is no longer what a reasonable person would do; individuals must follow the statute. However, this statute merely provided rules of the road for pedestrians and vehicles, so both actors know what to do under normal circumstances. The traffic faced by the plaintiff is not normal circumstances. It is not reasonable to force a person to follow a statute that places their life in danger; therefore, the plaintiffs walking on the right side of the road, which had visibly less traffic than the left, does not go against congresses intent and does not make them contributorily negligent.