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New York Court Discusses Proving Vicarious Liability in a Car Accident Case

Many people have jobs that require them to operate motor vehicles. When people cause collisions while they are working, their employers may be deemed vicariously liable for any damages sustained. A plaintiff in a car crash case must prove liability to recover compensation, however, and if they cannot, their claims may be dismissed, as discussed in a recent New York ruling. If you suffered injuries in a collision, you might be owed compensation, and it is in your best interest to meet with a Syracuse car accident lawyer to discuss your possible causes of action.

The Facts of the Case

Allegedly, the plaintiff’s vehicle collided with a postal van that was parked on the side of a one-way street. The crash occurred when the plaintiff was attempting to navigate a turn. The plaintiff sustained damages due to the crash and subsequently filed a lawsuit against the federal government pursuant to the Federal Tort Claims Act (the Act). The case proceeded to trial, and following an evidentiary hearing, the judge found that the plaintiff had not met her burden of proof with regards to the elements of her negligence claim and ruled that the government was not liable for the accident.

Proving Liability in a Car Accident Case

The Act allows parties to pursue personal injury claims against the United States for the negligence of a government employee acting within the scope of their employment. Pursuant to the Act, the courts must examine state law to determine whether the government is liable for harm caused by its employees.

As the accident in the subject case happened in New York, the court looked to New York negligence law to assess the plaintiff’s claim. Under New York law, a plaintiff alleging negligence must show that the defendant owed the plaintiff a duty, a breach of the duty, and harm substantially caused by the breach. The court explained that New York drivers have an obligation to operate their vehicles with reasonable care in consideration of the dangers presented by the weather, other drivers, and other conditions. The duty includes the obligation to see things that are readily apparent.

Based on the foregoing, when a rear-end crash occurs between a moving vehicle and parked car in New York, the driver of the moving vehicle is deemed prima facie negligent unless they can set forth a non-negligent explanation for the collision. Here, the court found that the plaintiff failed to demonstrate that the driver of the postal vehicle engaged in any behavior that caused the accident. Thus, the court dismissed the plaintiff’s claims.

Connect with a Trusted Syracuse Lawyer

Car accidents often cause substantial damages, but people hurt in collisions must prove that another party is liable to recover damages. If you were injured in a crash, it is smart to connect with an attorney to evaluate what claims you may be able to pursue. The trusted car accident attorneys of DeFrancisco & Falgiatano Personal Injury Lawyers can advise you of your rights and aid you in seeking the best legal result available under the facts of your case. You can contact us through our online form or by calling us at 833-247-8427 to set up a meeting.


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