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Court Explains Comparative Fault in New York Car Crash Lawsuits

Defendants in car accident lawsuits are typically reluctant to admit liability, even if it seems clear that their behavior caused the collision that formed the basis of the plaintiff’s claims. Additionally, in many cases, the defendant will not only deny fault but will argue that the plaintiff caused the accident. In such instances, the issue of liability will usually need to be determined by the jury, as discussed in a recent ruling issued by a New York court in a case arising out of a collision. If you sustained harm in a car crash, you might be owed damages, and it is in your best interest to meet with a Syracuse personal injury lawyer to assess your options.

History of the Case

It is alleged that the plaintiff and defendant were involved in a collision. While it is undisputed that the defendant’s vehicle struck the plaintiff’s vehicle from behind, the precise manner in which the accident occurred was disputed. Regardless, the plaintiff sustained injuries in the crash and subsequently filed a personal injury lawsuit against the defendant. Following discovery, the plaintiff moved for summary judgment in his favor on the issue of liability. The trial court granted the motion, and the defendant appealed.

Comparative Fault in New York Car Crash Lawsuits

The court reversed the trial court ruling on appeal. The court explained that a plaintiff moving for summary judgment on the issue of liability in a negligence action must show, prima facie, that the defendant breached a duty they owed to the plaintiff and the breach proximately caused the plaintiff’s injuries.

Under New York law, a rear-end collision with a stopped car demonstrates a prima facie case of negligence on behalf of the driver of the second car. They can rebut the inference of negligence, though, but offer a nonnegligent reason for the collision. In the subject case, the court noted that the plaintiff met his burden of proof via an affidavit asserting how the accident happened. In response, however, the defendant submitted an affidavit as well that contradicted the plaintiff’s account of events and suggested that the plaintiff’s negligence brought about the accident.

Based on the foregoing, the court found that it was improper for the trial court to rule in favor of the plaintiff as a matter of law on the issue of liability and reversed the trial court ruling.

Meet with a Trusted Syracuse Personal Injury Attorney

Multiple factors can lead to car accidents, but in most cases, careless driving is the primary cause. If you were hurt in a collision, it is prudent to meet with an attorney to discuss what evidence you must produce to recover damages. The trusted Syracuse personal injury attorneys of DeFrancisco & Falgiatano Personal Injury Lawyers are well-versed in what it takes to establish fault in car accident cases, and if you hire us, we will advocate zealously on your behalf. You can reach us through our form online or by calling us at 833-200-2000 to set up a meeting.

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