In any civil lawsuit case, there are many extremely important decisions that must be made. It is important to recognize that, with each vital choice, there are two equally important aspects – making the right decision and making it at the right time. Summary judgment may be the correct procedure to get you the victory you need, but not if you file your motion for summary judgment prematurely. To help you be sure that your timing is right, be sure you have an experienced New York City injury attorney on your side.
A couple of recent auto accident cases reflect how this summary judgment process can work or fail. L.M. was a driver who was allegedly injured in Brooklyn when he was rear-ended at a T-intersection. L.M. had asserted in his case that he had stopped at a red light and initiated his right-turn signal, then was hit in the rear just as soon as the light turned green.
L.M. moved for summary judgment. The defendant argued that L.M.’s motion was premature. The trial court decided that it was not, and ruled for L.M. (The Appellate Division later affirmed that outcome.) In order for the defendant to have had any possibility of having a case, he needed some something that refuted what L.M. had asserted and that provided some sort of non-negligent explanation for having rear-ended L.M.
The defendant didn’t have any of that, so L.M.’s motion for summary judgment was not premature. This meant that L.M. did not have to go through a trial on the issue of liability and could proceed directly to a trial where he would prove the extent of his damages. By going forward with summary judgment without waiting, L.M. was saved time, stress and likely expense, as well.
Another injured driver – one with a less successful result – was K.E. K.E. was injured in an accident at an intersection in Seaford. She was turning left through the intersection when an oncoming vehicle struck her auto.
In K.E.’s lawsuit, it was the defendant who filed a motion for summary judgment. The defense argued that K.E. caused the accident by violating the law – specifically, failing to yield the right of way in violation of Vehicle and Traffic Law Section 1142.
K.E. opposed the defense motion for summary judgment, arguing that it was premature. The court decided that it wasn’t and ruled for the defense. In upholding that decision, the Appellate Division noted that K.E. did not have any evidence that the defendant was speeding or was otherwise at fault for the accident.
In other words, K.E. lost but might not have if she’d presented different evidence. If an injured driver in a position like K.E. seeks to avoid summary judgment on the basis that such a motion is premature, that plaintiff needs to offer the court some legitimate basis for denying the motion. This could include a reasonable argument that the defendant was speeding (meaning that the defendant’s speed, not the plaintiff’s failure to yield the right of way, was to blame) or perhaps the defendant was driving while distracted (and negligently failed to see what he should have seen and take appropriate evasive action,) then that might be enough to support an argument she had a possible case and lead the court deny a defense motion for summary judgment as premature.
An injury lawsuit comes with lots of questions. Many of those may sound like the old reporter’s questions: “who,” “when,” “how,” and “where,” among others. To get the answers you need to the many questions you probably have, reach out to the skilled Queens injury attorneys at Newman, Anzalone & Newman. To schedule a free consultation with one of our highly qualified attorneys, contact us toll-free at 718-866-3796 or through our website.