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June 29, 2018

Westchester Car Accident Lawyers Win Summary Judgment For Injured Car Accident Victim

By Michael H. Joseph

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Our Westchester car accident lawyers were victorious in establishing our client’s entitlement to summary judgment  in the Westchester Supreme Court in White Plains on liability by demonstrating that the Plaintiff’s vehicle was struck in the rear by the defendants’ vehicle. Without a trial, the Westchester Supreme Court granted our White Plains car accident attorneys’ motion and found that our proofs were so strong that the Court  awarded partial summary judgment on the issue of liability and found for our client.

In this case, Plaintiff was rear ended by a truck. The  Defendant claimed that they accident was not their fault becauase our client stopped short.   Prior to the completion of discovery plaintiff moved for partial summary judgment on the issue of liability. Our Westchester Plaintiff lawyers successfully argued that a rear end collision establishes a prima facie case of negligence on the part of the operator of the rear vehicle, thereby requiring that operator to rebut the inference of negligence by providing a non-negligent explanation for the collision.  Our White Plains car accident lawyers know that New York’s Vehicle and Traffic law requires operators of cars and trucks to leave enough room between their vehicle and the vehicle in front them, to account for the fact that vehicles some times stop short. Therefore the Westchester Supreme Court agreed with our White Plains personal injury lawyers’ arguments that a claim that the lead driver stopped short is not an excuse and in turn, the Defendants’ lawyers failed to raise a triable issue of fact or provide a non-negligent explanation for the rear-end collision. Our White Plains personal injury lawyers also successfully argued that a defendant cannot successfully oppose a summary judgment motion by merely criticizing the plaintiff’s account or by claiming it was unsubstantiated.  In fact, the defendant in his affidavit admits that his truck struck plaintiff’s stopped car in the rear because when he tried to stop his vehicle, the brakes on his vehicle unexpectedly locked up. The defendant never claimed that the plaintiff’s vehicle came to a sudden stop or that his brakes failed, nor does he submit evidence of a bona fide brake failure. However, the law has evolved to the point that a Defendant’s unsupported and self serving claim that his brakes “locked up” is insufficient, as a matter of law, to establish a non-negligent explanation because the defendant failed to provide any corroboration and there is a complete lack of evidence that the vehicle’s brakes were properly maintained. A defendant’s affidavit, which implies that a mechanical problem was a substantial factor in causing the accident, which is unsupported by any corroborating evidence, is insufficient to create an issue of fact.

Thus, the court decided on behalf of the Plaintiff stating that a party who contends that a summary judgment motion is premature is required to demonstrate that discovery might lead to relevant evidence or that the facts essential to justify opposition to the motion were exclusively within the knowledge and control of the movant.  The mere hope or speculation that evidence sufficient to defeat a motion for summary judgment, may be uncovered during the discovery process is insufficient to deny the motion.  Hence, Defendant’s claim that the motion is premature since discovery has not yet occurred is without merit.

 

 
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