The “duty to see that which is there to be seen”

Though not expressly stated in the VTL, Courts impose upon all drivers a duty to see that which is there to be seen.  This does not mean that a driver must see absolutely everything, but it does mean that a driver who fails to
see, for example, a pedestrian crossing the street or a vehicle running a red light will likely bear some liability for the happening of a resulting accident.  This may seem counterintuitive (think, “How could I have avoided the accident? I didn’t even see the guy!”), but when considered carefully, it makes perfect sense.  A driver who is keeping a diligent look-out and properly using all of his or her senses, most importantly vision and hearing, is much more likely to see an accident coming and stands a better chance of bracing for it or avoiding it altogether than a driver who forgot his glasses that day or wasn’t paying attention to his or her surroundings.

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