New York Court Discusses Liability for Crashes Caused by Trailing Vehicles

Drivers have an obligation to operate their vehicles safely. This means, in part, that a motorist must maintain sufficient distance from other cars and travel at a safe speed. Drivers who fail to abide by the law and drive recklessly are more likely to cause crashes, and if they do, they can be held liable for injuries sustained by other parties. Even in cases where it seems like the fault is clear, though, it is not uncommon for defendants to attempt to avoid liability, but they face a high burden of proof, as demonstrated in a recent New York opinion. If you were hurt in an accident caused by another driver, you might have a viable claim for damages, and it is in your best interest to meet with a trusted Buffalo personal injury attorney to discuss your case.

The Accident

Reportedly, the plaintiff-husband was driving a car in which the plaintiff-wife was riding as a passenger. They were struck from behind by a pickup truck owned by the defendant company and operated by the defendant driver. The plaintiffs, who were injured in the accident, commenced a personal injury lawsuit against the defendants. The defendants moved to amend their answer to assert the emergency doctrine defense, and the plaintiffs moved for summary judgment on the matter of liability. The court granted the defendants’ motion but denied the plaintiffs’, and the plaintiffs appealed.

Liability for Crashes Caused by Trailing Vehicles

Under New York Law, a person operating a vehicle that is approaching another car from the rear has an obligation to maintain a distance and speed that are reasonably safe in consideration of the current circumstances in order to avoid colliding with the other car. If a driver fails to uphold these duties and causes a rear-end crash with a vehicle that is stopped or stopping, the driver will be deemed negligent on the face of the facts unless he or she can come forward with an explanation to rebut the presumption of negligence.

In the subject case, the court found that the plaintiffs established their right to judgment as a matter of law on the issue of liability through deposition testimony of the parties. In response, the defendants failed to demonstrate that an issue of fact requiring a trial existed. Specifically, the court explained that the emergency-doctrine is not applicable in typical rear-end crash cases because trailing motorists are required to leave a reasonable distance between their cars and the vehicles they are following. Thus, the trial court ruling was affirmed.

Meet with an Experienced Buffalo Personal Injury Attorney

People have a duty to drive safely, and if they breach their duties and cause collisions, they should be held accountable. If you were hurt in a reckless driving accident caused by another motorist, you should meet with a lawyer regarding your rights. The experienced Buffalo car accident attorneys of the Dietrich Law Firm P.C. proudly help injured parties fight to protect their rights, and if you engage our services, we will advocate zealously on your behalf. You can reach us at 716-839-3939 or via our online form to schedule a consultation.

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