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New York Appellate Court Rules that Summary Judgment Should Have Been Entered in Car Accident Case

In a Syracuse automobile accident lawsuit, the plaintiff must be able to prove that the driver against whom a claim is filed was negligent in some manner.

In order to prove negligence, the plaintiff has to prove that the defendant breached a duty of care that was owed to him or her and that the plaintiff was damaged as a proximate result.

If the plaintiff is unable to make a prima facie showing of negligence, it is likely that the defendant driver will file a motion for summary judgment. Unless there are genuine issues of material fact to be resolved at trial, the court may rule that the defendant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.

Facts of the Case

The plaintiff in a recent appellate case arising in the Supreme Court for Niagara County sought monetary damages from the defendant driver for injuries she suffered in a traffic accident. The accident allegedly occurred when the plaintiff made a left turn in front of the defendant’s vehicle, which was approaching from the opposite direction. The defendant filed a motion for summary judgment. The trial court denied the defendant’s motion, and she appealed.

Decision of the Court

The Supreme Court of the State of New York Appellate Division, Fourth Judicial Department, reversed the trial court’s order and dismissed the plaintiff’s complaint on summary judgment. According to the court on appeal, the defendant had shown that she had the right-of-way at the time of the accident.

The plaintiff argued that she had raised a triable issue of fact, even though she conceded that she had turned in front of the defendant’s oncoming car. Viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the plaintiff (which is required when a court is ruling on a summary judgment motion), the plaintiff made her turn at a time when the defendant was only a few car lengths away from the intersection. According to the court on appeal, the defendant did not have sufficient time to take attempt to avoid the collision.

The plaintiff’s assertions that the traffic light had changed from to yellow just before she began her turn did not, in the court’s view, change the fact that the defendant had the right-of-way at the time of the crash. As to the plaintiff’s alternative argument that the light may have been red instead of yellow, the court found that this issue was not properly before the court because the plaintiff raised in for the first time on appeal. The court also noted that there was no proof in the record to support this contention, and any contention to that effect was speculative.

Hire a Syracuse Injury Attorney

It is important to talk to an experienced automobile accident lawyer if you or a loved one has been involved in a Syracuse motor vehicle crash. The burden is on the plaintiff in such cases, and evidence should be gathered as soon as possible in order to improve the plaintiff’s chances of receiving fair compensation for his or her medical expenses, lost earnings, and pain and suffering. For an appointment, call the attorneys of DeFrancisco & Falgiatano, LLP, at 315-479-9000.


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