Obtaining a driver’s license is a right of passage.  The nervous teen driver appears at the road test location and the DMV employee gets into the car to administer the exam.  Usually, the test concludes uneventfully.  The applicant either passes or fails the exam and at worst, leaves with a bruised ego.  No one gets hurt, but what happens if the test goes terribly wrong and the DMV employee is injured in a car accident?

Can the injured DMV employee sue for personal injuries sustained in a crash that occurred during a license examination?  The answer is YES.

In Harrison v. Crescent Driving School, a road test was being administered by Harrison- an employee of the NYS DMV.  During the course of the test, the driver attempted to make a right turn but somehow managed to crash into a street sign pole at the intersection causing injuries to Harrison.

The injured employee sued both the Crescent Driving School which owned the vehicle as well as the learner’s permit holder who was at the wheel when the collision occurred.  The defendants argued that Ms. Harrison assumed the risk of being injured by getting into car with an unlicensed motorist.  The trial court agreed and dismissed the lawsuit.

The Appellate Division, Second Department, however, reversed holding that the mere fact that Ms. Harrison entered the car only raised an issue as to her comparative negligence. It is for a jury to decide whether both the driver and passenger were negligent and if so, what percentage of fault to assign to each.

Ms. Harrison will have her day in court, but only if she first can demonstrate that the injuries she claims to have sustained in the collision meet the criteria for a “Serious Injury” within the meaning of New York law.  There are nine categories of injuries which constitute a serious injury, one of which is a fracture.

If someone you know has been injured in a car accident in New York, please do not hesitate to call us for a free consultation.