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Injured Western New York Driver Allowed to Pursue Injury Claim Against the Owners of a Leased Vehicle

Legal News GavelWhen you are injured in a motor vehicle accident caused by someone else’s fault, there may be several steps that are involved in seeking a proper recovery, which is why a knowledgeable New York car accident attorney may be important to your case. If the car that hit and injured you was owned by someone other than the driver operating the vehicle at the time of the accident, your case may present the opportunity to pursue recovery from more than one party. One recent example from Buffalo involved a man struck and injured by the driver of a leased vehicle.

Kenneth was driving in the Buffalo area when he was involved in an accident. After he suffered injuries in the accident, he launched a lawsuit. In any auto accident action, one key step is deciding whom to sue. Obviously, the first name generally involved is the driver who hit you. If the driver was “on the job” when the accident took place, that may present an opportunity to pursue a claim against the driver’s employer, who may be liable through the legal theory known as vicarious liability.

Depending on the facts of your case, there may be others who are potentially liable as well. One situation is if the vehicle is a leased one. In Kenneth’s case, the car that hit him was leased, and he sued, in addition to the other driver, the two entities that owned the leased vehicle.

Kenneth’s complaint alleged that the accident “was caused as a result of the negligent, careless, reckless and unlawful conduct on the part of” the owners. The owners tried to persuade the trial court to dismiss the plaintiff’s case on the basis that a law known as the Graves Amendment shielded them from liability.

The trial court ruled in the plaintiff’s favor and did not dismiss the case. The defendants appealed, but the Appellate Division upheld the lower court’s ruling. The injured plaintiff was successful and was allowed to continue pursuing his claim, based upon the way that he structured his assertions in his complaint. The Graves Amendment is a federal law that says that owners of leased vehicles cannot be liable for events involving their vehicles if the sole basis for liability is the mere proof that they owned the vehicle. In other words, they can’t be vicariously liable.

In Kenneth’s complaint, while he did assert a claim of vicarious liability against the owners, he didn’t stop there. He also claimed that they were liable due to their own “negligent, careless, reckless and unlawful conduct.” In other words, he didn’t just assert that they were vicariously liable as owners. He asserted claims that they were directly liable as a result of their own conduct. The Graves Amendment does not bar cases in which the plaintiff alleges direct liability, similar to what was in that latter element of Kenneth’s complaint. As a result of that thorough pleading, he was allowed to proceed.

If you’ve been hurt in a vehicle accident, contact the hardworking Queens car accident attorneys at Newman, Anzalone & Newman. Our attorneys have been helping injured people for many years, and we are ready to help you with your case. To schedule a free consultation with one of our qualified attorneys, contact us toll-free at 718-896-2700 or through our website.

More Blog Posts:

Using the Unique Circumstances of Your New York Auto Accident to Strengthen Your Injury Case, New York Personal Injury Lawyers Blog, July 10, 2017

How to Proceed with Your New York Auto Accident Case if Your Vehicle Was Struck… Twice, New York Personal Injury Lawyers Blog, June 2, 2017

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