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MY CELL PHONE
Q: I had been traveling eastbound and was in the left turn lane, at an intersection
controlled by a traffic signal. Before I entered the intersection, the signal turned
from green to amber. On the opposite side of the intersection, two westbound vehicles
were approaching, one behind the other. The lead car slowed down to allow me to
make the left turn, and I drove into the intersection to do so. As I entered the intersection,
the trailing car, traveling quite fast, changed lanes in order to go around the lead
car, and struck me in the intersection.
The other driver says that I did not begin my turn until his car, traveling
within the speed limit of 35 miles per hour, was less than one car length from the
intersection, a split second before the accident. He says that I failed to yield the
right-of-way and made a sudden left turn directly into the path of his oncoming car,
and must have been on my cell phone.
A: Pursuant to Vehicle and Traffic law § 1141, the operator of a vehicle intending
to turn left within an intersection must yield the right-of-way to any oncoming
vehicle which is within the intersection or so close to it as to constitute an immediate
hazard, and an operator of an oncoming vehicle with the right-of-way is entitled to
assume that the opposing operator will yield in compliance with the traffic laws. Your
attorney will need to see all the evidence and hear all the witnesses.
As for that theory about your cell phone, the principal of full disclosure does
not give the other driver the right to engage in a fishing expedition. Discovery of
cellular phone records is likely to be directed, if at all, only where there is other,
concrete evidence that your cellular phone was being used. I would say that the mere
fact that you were in possession of a cell phone, without any witness testimony as to its
being used, does not amount to such evidence.