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Partial Summary Judgment Denied in New York Bicycle-Car Accident Lawsuit

In a Syracuse personal injury lawsuit arising from a car wreck, bicycle accident, or truck collision, the plaintiff has the burden of proving his or her case by a preponderance of the evidence. In order to do this, it is important that the accident be investigated promptly, thoroughly, and by experienced professionals who know what to look for.

As the case proceeds towards trial, one or both parties may summary judgment, asking the court to determine an issue as a matter of law based on undisputed factual allegations. While summary judgment can be a useful tool under certain circumstances, it is not always appropriate, as a New York appellate court recently found.

Facts of the Case

In a recent case, the plaintiff was a bicyclist who was allegedly struck by a motor vehicle owned by the defendant corporation (and presumably driven by its agent). The plaintiff filed suit in the Supreme Court, Bronx County, seeking monetary compensation for personal injuries suffered in the accident. Prior to trial, the plaintiff filed a motion for partial summary judgment on the issue of liability. The trial court denied the plaintiff’s motion, and he appealed. On appeal, the plaintiff also sought review of the trial court’s denial of his motion to preclude the defendants from submitting an affidavit in opposition to his motion for partial summary judgment and/or to preclude them from testifying at trial.

Decision of the Court

The New York Supreme Court Appellate Division, First Department, affirmed the lower court’s decision. In a negligence action, the burden of proof is on the plaintiff to prove that the defendant owed him or her a duty of care, that this duty was breached, that the plaintiff suffered damages, and that there was a link of proximate causation between the defendant’s breach of the duty of care and the injuries suffered by the plaintiff. Here, the plaintiff sought partial summary judgment, asking the trial court to find in his favor on the issue of liability, that is, to judicially determine that the plaintiff had made out a case of negligence and that a trial was necessary only as to the amount of damages that he should be awarded

The appellate court agreed with the trial court that the plaintiff was not entitled to partial summary judgment on liability, noting that the affidavit that the plaintiff submitted in support of his motion was inconsistent with his prior deposition testimony. Summary judgment is only proper when there are not genuine issues of material fact. Here, the plaintiff had testified in his deposition that he did not know the location of the intersection where the accident had taken place, yet he asked the trial court to take judicial notice of certain images from Google Maps without explaining how he had ascertained that the images depicted the location of the accident.

The plaintiff’s deposition testimony and averment also conflicted as to whether or not the plaintiff saw the defendant’s vehicle prior to being struck. According to the appellate court, these factual issues, which were pertinent to the issue of the defendant’s liability, were best left to the trier of fact (the jury).

Hire a Seasoned Syracuse Personal Injury Lawyer

Serious, life-threatening, and even fatal injuries can occur because of a driver’s negligence. If you have been involved in an accident caused by a careless motorist, the experienced motor vehicle accident attorneys at DeFrancisco & Falgiatano, LLP, can explain your legal rights and help you get started on your claim. For an appointment, call us at 833-200-2000. Please remember that you have only a limited amount of time to take legal action in a car crash case, so do not delay in seeking legal counsel concerning your accident.

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