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New York Court Denies Summary Judgment to Common Carrier in Injured Passenger’s Negligence Lawsuit

In a Syracuse personal injury lawsuit based on a theory of negligence, the plaintiff has the burden of proof. This means that he or she must be able to provide evidence sufficient to convince the jury, by a preponderance of the evidence, to the existence of each and every element of his or her case.

The elements of negligence include duty, breach of duty, damages, and causation.

If the plaintiff’s evidence fails as to any one of these elements, he or she cannot recover money damages against the defendant.

Facts of the Case

In a recent case filed in the Supreme Court of Monroe County, the plaintiff was a man who sought monetary damages from the defendant bus company after he was allegedly injured due to an “abrupt stop” in the defendant’s terminal. According to the plaintiff, the accident happened when the bus came to such a sudden stop as to cause him to rise off his seat, fall onto the foot rest of the seat in front of him, and then fall back against his seat. He further alleged that he sustained injuries to his knee and his back because of the defendant’s negligent operation of the bus.

The defendant filed a motion for summary judgment, seeking to have the complaint against it dismissed. The trial court denied the defendant’s motion, and it appealed.

The Decision on Appeal

The Supreme Court of the State of New York, Appellate Division, Fourth Judicial Department, affirmed the lower court’s denial of the defendant’s motion for summary judgment. According to the court on appeal, the plaintiff in a negligence lawsuit against a common carrier such as the defendant had to prove that his or her injuries were due to a halt that caused a “jerk or lurch” that was “unusual and violent.” The plaintiff in such a case is not entitled to monetary relief for injuries sustained during a stop that would be commonly experienced in bus travel.

Here, the defendant, as the party seeking summary judgment, had the burden of proving that the stop at issue was not unusual or violent. Although the defendant had submitted the deposition testimony of both a bus driver and a bus safety consultant expert witness, both of whom disputed whether hard braking could result in an accident of the type complained of by the plaintiff, the appellate court pointed out that the defendant had also submitted the plaintiff’s deposition testimony. In the court’s opinion, the plaintiff’s testimony that the force of the stop had caused him to rise off his seat and be injured gave rise to a triable issue of fact with regard to whether or not the stop in question was violent and unusual. Thus, the defendant was not entitled to judgment as a matter of law.

Talk to a Syracuse Personal Injury Lawyer

If you or a loved one has been hurt because of someone else’s negligence, you have the right to file a claim seeking fair compensation for your injuries. To schedule an appointment with an experienced Syracuse personal injury attorney, call DeFrancisco & Falgiatano, LLP at 315-479-9000. There is no charge for the consultation, and, if necessary, we can arrange a home or hospital visit to discuss your case.

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