New York Court Discusses Liability in Rear-End Collisions

Usually, when a rear-end collision occurs, it is because of the carelessness of the person driving the second vehicle. As such, in a lawsuit arising out of rear-end crashes, liability is often not in dispute. That is not always the case, however, and simply because one driver strikes another from behind does not automatically mean that fault for the accident is clear. The process of determining liability in a rear-end crash was the topic of a recent opinion issued by a New York court, in a matter in which it was ultimately determined that the issue of liability should be submitted to a jury. If you were injured in a rear-end car accident, you could be owed damages, and it is prudent to confer with a capable Buffalo car accident attorney to determine your options.

The Plaintiff’s Accident

It is reported that the plaintiff was driving a car that was struck in the rear by a vehicle operated by the defendant, which caused the plaintiff to suffer injuries. The plaintiff then sued the defendant for damages. Following discovery, the plaintiff filed a motion for summary judgment, asking the court to find that the defendant was liable for the accident as a matter of law. The court denied the plaintiff’s motion, and she appealed. On appeal, the trial court ruling was affirmed.

Proving Liability in Rear-End Crashes

Under New York law, a rear-end crash involving a car that is stopped or stopping establishes the negligence of the driver of the rear car, prima facie. As such, the rear driver must rebut the inference that he or she was negligent by offering a non-negligent excuse for the crash. Explanations that do not involve negligence may include the fact that the plaintiff’s car made a sudden lane change in front of the defendant, which required the defendant to stop suddenly.

In the subject case, the court noted that in support of her motion, the plaintiff submitted her deposition transcript indicating that she had been stopped for forty seconds before she was struck from behind by the defendant. Thus, the plaintiff established prima facie, the defendant acted negligently, and his negligence proximately caused the crash, as required to prove liability under New York law. In turn, however, the defendant submitted an affidavit stating that the plaintiff cut in front of him and stopped suddenly, which caused the defendant to strike her vehicle. The court found the defendant’s explanation to demonstrate a non-negligent cause of the accident. As such, the trial court ruling was affirmed.

Speak to a Trusted Personal Injury Attorney in Buffalo

Rear-end collisions can cause painful injuries and economic losses, and people injured in rear-end crashes can often recover damages. If you were hurt in a collision, it is wise to speak to a lawyer about your potential claims. The trusted personal injury attorneys of the Dietrich Law Firm P.C. are proficient at helping injured parties in the pursuit of damages, and if you hire us, we will work diligently to help you seek a favorable result. You can contact us at 716-839-3939 or through our online form to set up your FREE consultation.

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