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New York Court Discusses Liability in Rear-End Car Accident Cases

In many car accident cases, proving liability can be difficult.  In some collisions, though, it seems as if liability is clear. For example, in rear-often crashes, there is generally a presumption that the second driver is responsible. While that is generally true, it is not an irrefutable assumption, as demonstrated in a recent New York opinion issued in a case arising out of a rear-end collision. If you sustained harm in a car accident, it is prudent to meet with a Syracuse car accident attorney to discuss your options for seeking damages.

History of the Case

It is reported that the plaintiff, a commercial truck driver, was driving a truck for his employer on a New York highway. He was stopped in traffic when he was suddenly struck from behind by another commercial truck. He did not hear brakes or tires screeching prior to the impact. After the crash, he got out and spoke with the defendant driver, who was operating a commercial truck on behalf of the defendant company.

Allegedly, the defendant driver apologized and stated it was his first year driving commercial trucks. The plaintiff felt no pain initially, but subsequently developed pain in his back and neck. He subsequently filed a lawsuit alleging the defendant driver was negligent and the defendant company was vicariously liable for his negligence. After the parties completed depositions, the plaintiff moved for summary judgment on the issue of the defendants’ negligence.

Negligence in Rear-End Collision Cases

After a careful review of the evidence, the court denied the plaintiff’s motion. The court explained that, in New York, rear-end car accidents establish a prima facie case of liability of the driver of the second car, and triggers a duty of explanation on that driver. The duty arises because when a motorist approaches another vehicle from the rear, he is bound to uphold a reasonably safe speed and adequate control over his vehicle, and use reasonable care to avoid colliding with the other car.

The second driver can overcome the presumption of negligence by setting forth a non-negligent reason for the crash. If he cannot, however, the court should grant the plaintiff judgment as a matter of law.

In the subject case, the court found that the plaintiff set forth a prima face case establishing the defendant driver’s negligence. In response, though, the defendant driver offered a reasonable explanation for the crash, namely that the plaintiff stopped suddenly. Thus, summary judgment on the issue of his liability was inappropriate. As the court declined to rule that the defendant driver acted negligently as a matter of law, it stated it could not rule that the defendant company was vicariously liable as a matter of law. Thus, the plaintiff’s motion was denied.

Confer with an Experienced Syracuse Lawyer

Rear-end car crashes are frequently caused by negligent driving, but people that cause such collisions are often reluctant to admit their fault. If you were hurt in a rear-end car accident, it is advisable to confer with a lawyer about your potential claims. The experienced Syracuse attorneys of DeFrancisco & Falgiatano Personal Injury Lawyers take pride in helping people harmed by the negligence of others fight to protect their interests, and if you hire us, we will zealously pursue any compensation you might be owed. We can be reached via our online form or by calling us at 833-247-8427 to set up a conference.



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