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New York Court Discusses Negligence in the Context of Car Accident Cases

Generally, car accidents are caused by reckless driving. Thus, a person injured in a car crash will typically seek compensation from the driver they deem responsible for the collision. Defendants rarely concede their liability, but unless they can establish a non-negligent reason for an accident, they may be deemed culpable. Recently, a New York court discussed what evidence is sufficient to rebut an inference of negligence in a chain-reaction car crash case. If you sustained injuries in a collision caused by another driver, you have the right to seek compensation, and it is smart to contact a Syracuse personal injury lawyer regarding your potential claims.

The History of the Case

Reportedly, the plaintiff was the driver of the first car in a four-car chain-reaction collision. The defendant was operating the second car at the time of the crash. The plaintiff filed a lawsuit against the defendant, alleging he negligently caused the accident and the plaintiff’s subsequent harm. The defendant moved for dismissal via summary judgment. The court granted the defendant’s motion, and the plaintiff appealed.

Negligence in the Context of Car Accident Cases

In New York, a defendant seeking dismissal of a negligence claim via summary judgment must show that they were not at fault in the subject accident. The appellate court explained that an accident can have more than one proximate cause, and the party moving for summary judgment bears the burden of establishing they are not at fault as a matter of law.

When one car strikes another from behind, it presents a prima facie case of negligence on the part of the second driver. Thus, the second driver will have to come forward with a nonnegligent explanation for the crash to refute the inference that they acted negligently. One such explanation is the fact that the second driver was struck in the rear as well and pushed forward into the first vehicle.

In other words, in a chain reaction accident, a driver of a middle car may demonstrate prima facie entitlement to judgment in their favor as a matter of law by showing that they were stopped behind the plaintiff and were struck in the back by another driver. In the subject case, the appellate court noted that the parties submitted conflicting accounts of how the accident occurred. Thus, it found that the defendant failed to offer sufficient evidence to prove that it was not negligent as a matter of law. Accordingly, it affirmed the trial court ruling.

Confer with a Seasoned Syracuse Personal Injury Lawyer

Negligent driving typically causes collisions, but non-negligent factors, like chain reactions, can cause them as well. If you were hurt in a car accident, you could be owed damages, and you should speak to an attorney about your options. The seasoned Syracuse personal injury attorneys of DeFrancisco & Falgiatano Personal Injury Lawyers can assess the circumstances surrounding your accident and advise you regarding what claims you may be able to pursue. You can contact us via our form online or by calling us at 833-200-2000 to set up a meeting.

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