I was injured crossing a street at the corner by a driver who claimed that he was disabled and could not see me crossing. Can I bring a case against that driver?
The short answer is yes. Although a driver may be under disability, it is incumbent upon the driver to operate a motor vehicle in a safe manner.
Drivers who are under a disability must still operate vehicles as a reasonably prudent person. For example, intoxicated drivers are held to the same standard of care as a sober driver. Courts have held that sobriety is a choice. Therefore, the sober driver and intoxicated driver have the same standard of care. Similarly, infants who happen to be driving a car are held to the same standard of care as an adult. Courts have held that a licensed 17-year-old who engages in an adult activity like driving must be held to the same standard of care as an adult. (Even if that driver is an unlicensed infant, that infant is held to the same standard of care as every adult licensed driver.)
Although the law recognizes that a person who is under a physical disability has the same standard of care as a reasonable person laboring under the same physical defects. However that same “person laboring under a physical disability must use caution commensurate with the increased hazard caused by such disability.” PJI:22 That means if you willingly get behind a wheel knowing that you have a disability which keeps you from operating a vehicle in safe manner, the driver, who put themselves in that position, is liable for the consequences. (See Diem v Adams, 266 AD 307, 42 NYS2d 55, elderly driver who had a stiff knee that prevented him from operating the brake pedal was negligent as a matter of law for failing to apply his brakes in a timely manner.)
New York Regulation 15 NYCRR 3.2(c) states that the Commissioner of Motor Vehicles can issue a license with a Class B restriction allowing drivers with impaired eyesight to operate a vehicle with glasses. However drivers must still have a 20/40 eyesight with glasses to operate a vehicle. If the driver operates a vehicle without glasses or with glasses and their eyesight is less than 20/40, then that driver is not operating a vehicle within that restriction. So driver is liable for the accident.