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New York Court Discusses Summary Judgment on the Issue of Liability in Car Accident Cases

While some collisions arise out of circumstances beyond anyone’s control, most are brought about by negligent driving. Even if it seems obvious that a person’s reckless driving caused an accident, however, issues of liability are rarely resolved by the courts before trial. For example, in a recent opinion issued in a case arising out of a rear-end collision, the court found that there were factual disputes in the matter that precluded summary judgment in favor of the plaintiff. If you were injured in a car accident, you have the right to pursue claims against the responsible party, and it is smart to meet with a Rochester personal injury lawyer about what claims you may be able to pursue.

Facts of the Case

It is alleged that in March 2015, the plaintiff suffered injuries in a rear-end collision involving the defendant. Specifically, the plaintiff asserted that he was stopped at a red light at an intersection when his vehicle was struck in the rear by a truck driven by the defendant driver and owned by the defendant company. As such, he filed a lawsuit against the defendants, arguing that their negligence caused him harm. After discovery ended, the plaintiff moved for summary judgment on the issue of liability. The court denied his motion, and he appealed.

Summary Judgment on the Issue of Liability in Car Accident Cases

On appeal, the trial court ruling was affirmed but on different grounds than those relied upon by the lower court. The court explained that pursuant to New York law, a rear-end collision involving a stopped vehicle establishes negligence, prima facie, on the part of the driver of the second vehicle. As such, the second driver must rebut the inference of negligence by offering a nonnegligent reason for the crash.

The court further elaborated that a sudden stop of the first vehicle may establish a non-negligent reason for an accident. In the subject case, the court noted that the plaintiff submitted the defendant driver’s deposition testimony in support of his motion which, among other things, indicated that the plaintiff stopped short in the middle of the intersection immediately before the crash. Thus, the plaintiff’s own submission indicated that there was a triable issue of fact as to whether there was a non-negligent reason for the crash. Based on the foregoing, the court affirmed the trial court ruling.

Speak to a Capable Personal Injury Lawyer

Unfortunately, most people will be involved in motor vehicle collisions at some point in their lives, and while many people walk away unscathed, others suffer major injuries. If you were hurt in a car accident caused by another person’s careless driving, it is in your best interest to talk to an attorney about what compensation you may be able to recover. The capable Rochester personal injury lawyers of DeFrancisco & Falgiatano Personal Injury Lawyers have ample experience helping people hurt by the negligence of others seek justice for their losses, and if you hire us, we will fight tirelessly on your behalf. You can contact us via our form online or by calling us at 585-653-7343 to set up a conference.

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