Any time you are involved in a vehicle accident, it is a traumatic time. Unfortunately, being injured and inside a disabled vehicle can also be a very vulnerable time. In the case of one woman in western New York, she suffered exactly such a double misfortune, getting hit by a driver who negligently pulled out of a gas station and then getting hit again by a drunk driver while she awaited medical personnel. When you are involved in a scenario like this, your injury case can be uniquely complicated, since it may involve proving that the defendant in your case is to blame for your damages (rather than another person who isn’t involved in the case.) In this case, the woman’s own testimony and expert opinion evidence were enough to secure a judgment of liability against the first driver, whose crash with the plaintiff inflicted concussion-related harm and cognitive damage on her.
The accident that led to this lawsuit took place on Niagara Falls Boulevard in Erie County. The woman who became the plaintiff in this case was driving along the boulevard at 45 mph when a man turned out of a gas station and hit the passenger side of her car. The impact was significant enough that it spun her car around three times. Her car eventually came to rest in the center lane of the road. While the woman sat in her car and waited for emergency personnel to arrive, a drunk driver came along and slammed into her vehicle. This impact threw the woman from her car, where she finally came to rest underneath the vehicle of the man who hit her initially.
Not surprisingly, these events inflicted serious injuries upon the woman. She initiated a personal injury action against the man who hit her first. In a case like this, the woman’s situation presents some unusual challenges. The woman clearly had suffered a serious injury (as required by Section 5102 of the Insurance Law), but the law does not hold a defendant liable for damages he did not cause. To recover against the first man who hit her, the plaintiff had to show that her injuries were the result of that first collision, rather than the second impact when the drunk driver hit her.
In this case, the woman had the proof she needed. Even in cases like this woman’s, crafting a winning case does not always mean hiring a multitude of experts. This woman succeeded with only her own deposition testimony and the expert opinion testimony of her treating physician. The woman’s doctor testified that he was reasonably medically certain that the “postconcussion syndrome, posttraumatic headaches, and cognitive dysfunction” that he diagnosed were all conditions caused by the first crash, rather than the second.
Once a plaintiff presents a viable argument for summary judgment, as the injured woman did here, the law shifts the burden to the defendant to establish the existence of a material fact that remained in dispute. Even though the plaintiff testified in her deposition that she did not recall being in pain during the period after the first crash but before the second, that wasn’t enough to create a disputed material fact and deny the plaintiff an award of summary judgment on the issue of the defendant’s liability.
Every case comes with its own challenges, but some can be especially complex. Whether your case seems complicated or appears straightforward on the surface, it still needs the careful touch of an experienced injury lawyer. The diligent and experienced Queens auto accident attorneys at Newman, Anzalone & Newman have been representing injured people for many years and have the skills to handle the full spectrum of auto accident cases. To schedule a free consultation with one of our qualified attorneys, contact us toll-free at 877-754-3099 or through our website.
More Blog Posts:
Middle Driver in Manhattan Multi-Car Accident Can’t Escape Case Via Summary Judgment Motion, New York Personal Injury Lawyers Blog, April 19, 2017
Vehicle Passenger Allowed to Pursue Injury Case After Long Island Multi-Car Accident, New York Personal Injury Lawyers Blog, Sept. 20, 2016