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New York Court Discusses Liability for Three-Car Collisions

When drivers do not leave adequate room between their vehicles and the cars in front of them, they run the risk of causing a rear-end collision. In some instances, rear-end collisions have chain effects, causing a multi-car pile-up. Typically, however, the driver of the middle vehicle in a three-car accident caused by a rear-end crash will not be liable for harm suffered by its passengers. This was demonstrated recently in a ruling issued by a New York court in a car accident case. If you were injured in a motor vehicle accident, it is in your best interest to speak to a Syracuse personal injury lawyer to discuss what you must prove to recover damages.

The History of the Case

It is alleged that the plaintiff sustained injuries in a collision that occurred when she was riding as an adult passenger on a school bus operated by the defendant driver and owned by the defendant company. The accident occurred when a person driving behind the bus struck the bus from behind, causing it to propel forward and strike the vehicle in front of it.

Reportedly, the plaintiff filed a lawsuit against the defendants alleging their negligence caused her injuries. The defendants moved for dismissal via summary judgment, and the trial court granted their motion. The plaintiff then appealed.

Liability for Rear-End Collisions

Under New York law, a defendant seeking summary judgment in a negligence action arising out of a car accident bears the burden of proving, prima facie, that they were not at fault for the accident. In cases arising out of rear-end crashes involving stopped vehicles, the operator of the second vehicle is, at first glance, deemed negligent, and the burden is on them to produce a non-negligent explanation to refute the inference of their negligence.

The appellate court explained that evidence that a vehicle was struck in the rear and propelled into the vehicle in front of it provides a non-negligent cause for a collision. As such, the operator of a middle vehicle in a three-car collision establishes the right to summary judgment by producing evidence that they were hit from behind and propelled into the vehicle in front of them. In the subject case, the appellate court found that the defendants produced such evidence, thereby demonstrating their right to summary judgment. As such, the appellate court affirmed the trial court ruling.

Meet with an Experienced Syracuse Personal Injury Lawyer

Rear-end collisions can cause significant injuries, but in most instances, a driver that is struck from behind will not be deemed liable for the harm suffered by their passengers. If you were hurt in a rear-end car accident, you have the right to seek compensation, and you should speak to a personal injury lawyer about your potential claims. The experienced attorneys of DeFrancisco & Falgiatano Personal Injury Lawyers can advise you of your rights and help you to pursue damages from anyone responsible for your harm. You can contact us via our online form or by calling us at 833-200-2000 to set up a meeting.


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