Skip to Main Content
Services Talent Knowledge
Site Search


Our attorneys stay on top of changes in legislation, agency regulations, case law, and industry trends—then craft timely legal alerts to keep clients up to date on legal developments important to their business.

June 17, 2011

Reckless Disregard Standard Only Applies to the Specific Conduct Set Forth in that Statute

Does the reckless disregard standard set forth in Vehicle and Traffic Law § 1104 apply to the driver of an emergency vehicle involved in an emergency operation for any injury-causing conduct? By a narrow vote of 4-3, the Court of Appeals recently held it did not. Rather, the Court determined that the reckless disregard standard only applies when a driver of an emergency vehicle engages in the specific conduct set forth in that statute. It further held that the principles of ordinary negligence govern any other injury-causing conduct of an emergency vehicle driver.

In Kabir v. County of Monroe, 16 N.Y.3d 217 (2011), a patrol deputy officer, after receiving two emergency calls, failed to activate the emergency lights or siren on his vehicle as he was en route responding to an emergency call. After looking at his display screen while driving, he suddenly observed stopped traffic and rear-ended the car in front of him. The driver of the car sued the county and the officer for injuries suffered during the collision.

The Court noted that the statute permits operators of emergency vehicles to "exercise the privileges set forth in this section [1104], but subject to the conditions herein stated" which refers to the specifically enumerated acts listed in the statute. The Court noted, however, that VTL § 1104(e)specifies that "[t]he foregoing provisions shall not relieve the driver of an authorized emergency vehicle from the duty to drive with due regard for the safety of all persons, nor shall such provisions protect the driver from the consequences of his reckless disregard for the safety of others." Thus, the Court concluded this language cautioned emergency vehicle drivers to operate their vehicles "as safely as possible" in an emergency situation and further holds them answerable for damages, if their reckless exercise of a privilege granted by Section 1104(b) causes personal injuries or property damage. The Court concluded that Section 1104 (e) did not create a reckless disregard standard of care for conduct not specified therein. Rather, because the standard of care for all emergency driving "” even if privileged under Section 1104(b)"” is negligence, that is the standard that applied for acts not specified by Section 1104(b).

The dissenting opinion argued that the holding of the majority interposed a limitation into Section 1104(e) that was "unworkable," incompatible with prior precedent of the Court, and not supported by the language in the statute.

If you require further information regarding the information presented in this Legal Alert and its impact on your organization, please contact any of the members of the Practice Area.


Click here to sign up for alerts, blog posts, and firm news.

Featured Media


CDPAP Providers Get First Look at the Future of CDPAP Without FIs


New York State Fiscal Year 2025 Budget: Implications for Employers Unpacked


Lab Providers Under Increased Scrutiny From Civil and Criminal Agencies for OTC COVID-19 Test Claims


NYS Appellate Court Dismisses Claim Based on Material Misrepresentations in Insurance Application


It's Not Over Yet. Turning Your Judgments Into Dollars.


Website Accessibility Lawsuits: Several "Tester" Plaintiffs—Danso, Martinez, Hedges, Thorne, Genwright, and Donet—Targeting Businesses in Recent Flurry of Lawsuits

We're Growing in DC!

We’re excited to announce Barclay Damon’s combination with Washington DC–based Shapiro, Lifschitz & Schram. SLS’s 10 lawyers, three paralegals, and four administrative staff will join Barclay Damon while maintaining their current office in DC’s central business district. Our clients will benefit from SLS’s corporate, real estate, finance, and construction litigation experience and national energy-industry profile, and their clients from our full range of services.

Read More

This site uses cookies to give you the best experience possible on our site and in some cases direct advertisements to you based upon your use of our site.

By clicking [I agree], you are agreeing to our use of cookies. For information on what cookies we use and how to manage our use of cookies, please visit our Privacy Statement.

I AgreeOpt-Out