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New York Court Discusses Grounds for Summary Judgment in Car Accident Cases

Collisions involving bicyclists often cause catastrophic harm. In many cases arising out of bike accidents, defendants will often try to avoid liability by assigning fault to the plaintiff. Unless the evidence clearly demonstrates that a defendant bears no fault, however, the court will not rule in their favor as a matter of law, as illustrated in a recent New York ruling. If you or a loved one were involved in a bicycle-car collision, it is advisable to meet with a Syracuse personal injury attorney to evaluate your potential claims.

Factual and Procedural Setting

It is reported that the plaintiff, a minor, was involved in a bicycle accident when he attempted to cross a street. The accident occurred when the defendant driver collided with the plaintiff while operating a vehicle that belonged to the defendant owner. The plaintiff filed a lawsuit against the defendants, asserting that their negligence caused the accident and his subsequent injuries. The defendants responded by moving for summary judgment, arguing that they were not at fault in the accident. The trial court denied the motion, and the defendants appealed.

Grounds for Summary Judgment in Car Accident Cases

On appeal,  the court reversed the trial court ruling. In doing so, it noted that a defendant seeking summary judgment in a negligence case must establish, prima facie, that they were not responsible for the accident. Moreover, the court emphasized that a driver with the right-of-way is entitled to assume that other drivers will adhere to traffic laws requiring them to yield. In cases where a driver with the right-of-way has only seconds to react to a vehicle that has failed to yield, they are not comparatively negligent for failing to avoid a collision.

The court looked at the relevant traffic laws, namely those that stated that a driver entering or crossing a roadway from a place other than another roadway must yield the right of way to all approaching vehicles and that individuals riding bicycles on a roadway are subject to the same duties as the driver of a vehicle under the same law.

In the subject case, the court found that the defendants successfully established, prima facie, that the plaintiff negligently entered the roadway mid-block without yielding the right-of-way to their vehicle, and this negligence was the sole proximate cause of the accident. Specifically, the evidence indicated that the defendant driver was traveling at a relatively low speed and only had a brief time to react before the collision occurred. Consequently, the court found that the defendant driver was not negligent in failing to avoid the collision and reversed the trial court ruling.

Speak to a Seasoned Syracuse Personal Injury Attorney

When people drive in a reckless manner, it often leads to car accidents, and in many instances, such collisions cause significant losses. If you were injured in a car crash, it is wise to speak to an attorney about what damages you may be owed. The experienced Syracuse personal injury attorneys of DeFrancisco & Falgiatano Personal Injury Lawyers have ample experience demonstrating liability in car accident cases, and if you hire us, we will advocate tirelessly on your behalf. You can reach us through our form online or by calling us at 833-247-8427 to set up a conference.

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