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New York Court Discusses Summary Judgment in Car Accident Cases

Car accidents are a common occurrence in Syracuse, and while they happen with regularity, that does not mean they are not preventable. Rather, most collisions are brought about by the careless driving of one or more people involved in the crash. While typically, issues of negligence must be decided by a jury, in cases in which liability is clear, plaintiffs may be granted judgment as a matter of law. In a recent opinion, a New York court discussed the standard for granting summary judgment in a car accident case in which it ultimately ruled in favor of the plaintiff. If you were injured in an accident, you should confer with a Syracuse car accident attorney regarding your potential claims.

The Subject Collision

It is reported that the plaintiff suffered substantial injuries in an accident that occurred when the car she was driving was struck by a car driven by the defendant. The crash happened at an intersection that was governed by a traffic light. The plaintiff proceeded through the intersection as the light was in her favor when she was hit by the defendant, who ran the red light. The plaintiff filed a lawsuit against the defendant, seeking compensation for her damages. After discovery closed, she moved for summary judgment, but the court denied her motion. She then appealed.

Proving Negligence as a Matter of Law in a Car Crash Case

On appeal, the court reversed the trial court ruling. The court explained that if a plaintiff in a case alleging negligence moves for summary judgment, he or she must then prove, prima facie, that the defendant violated a duty owed to the plaintiff and that the breach proximately caused the plaintiff to suffer injuries. Further, the court noted that a plaintiff does not have to demonstrate that he or she was not comparatively negligent in order for the court to grant summary judgment.

Under New York law, a violation of the duties imposed by the Vehicle and Traffic Law (the Law) is considered negligence per se. Under section 1111(d)(1) of the Law, a driver approaching a red light at an intersection must stop before entering the intersection. The court found that, in the subject case, the plaintiff proved she was entitled to judgment as a matter of law on the issue of liability by producing the report of the police who investigated the crash, eyewitness testimony, and her own affidavit, all of which demonstrated that the defendant proceeded into the intersection when there was a red light. In response, however, the defendant failed to show that there was an explanation for the crash that did not involve her negligence. Thus, the court reversed the trial court ruling.

Speak to a Trusted Car Accident Lawyer in Syracuse

Car accidents can cause life-altering harm, and anyone that recklessly causes a collision should be held accountable. If you were hurt in a crash, it is advisable to speak to a Syracuse car accident attorney to assess what compensation you may be able to recover. At DeFrancisco & Falgiatano Personal Injury Lawyers, our trusted attorneys can inform you of your potential claims and help you to seek the best outcome possible in your case. You can reach us via our form online or by calling 833-247-8427 to schedule a meeting.

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