Summary judgment is a very important point in the process of any civil lawsuit. A summary judgment says that the side who requested it is entitled to a resolution in their favor without a trial. As an injured person pursuing a claim for damages, successfully defeating a defendant’s motion for summary judgment is a vital step along the path to obtaining damages and a key area in which a knowledgeable New York car accident attorney can help.
An example of an injury plaintiff successfully overcoming an opposition’s summary judgment motion was the recent case of Willie, who was driving through Kingston, NY in January 2012 when he was involved in an accident. Willie was driving westbound on Broadway and was making a left turn onto an intersecting street when he and Jacklyn, who was going eastbound on Broadway, collided.
Willie was injured and sued for the harm that he had suffered. In the case, Jacklyn brought considerable evidence that the accident actually was Willie’s fault. Jacklyn presented the testimony of Brendan, who witnessed the crash and was not a party to the lawsuit. Brendan testified that Willie made a sudden and abrupt left turn in front of Jacklyn and that less than one second elapsed between the turn and the collision.
Jacklyn also had the police accident report for the incident. The report indicated that Willie improperly failed to yield the right of way. In fact, Willie was convicted of violating Section 1141 of the Vehicle and Traffic Law.
On his side, Willie relied heavily upon his own testimony. He testified that, when he began his turn, the intersection was clear but that he had to stop in the intersection to allow a pedestrian to cross the street. At that time, according to Willie, Jacklyn was stopped at a red light 200-300 feet away. By the time the pedestrian crossed and Willie resumed proceeding, Jacklyn allegedly was “coming up fast” and hit the passenger’s side of Willie’s vehicle.
Despite what might seem to be a great disparity in Jacklyn’s evidence versus Willie’s evidence, the Appellate Division concluded that Jacklyn wasn’t entitled to summary judgment, and Willie was entitled to go forward with his case. The resolution of this appeal is a reminder of just how high a hurdle the law says the standard for granting summary judgment is. Granting one party a summary judgment, and denying the opposing party a chance to have a trial, is an extreme resolution and is only appropriate when there is no factual dispute remaining on any issue that is material to the case.
In Willie’s situation, his evidence was enough to raise such a relevant factual dispute. While Willie might have been negligent in failing to yield, that does not rule out the possibility that Jacklyn was also negligent in her driving. Regardless of Willie’s driving, the law imposes on all drivers the obligation to be attentive and aware of driving conditions around them and, whenever reasonably possible, to take reasonable and appropriate action to avoid collisions. Willie’s testimony that Jacklyn came up fast and hit his vehicle even though she had room to “just go around him” was enough to create a factual dispute about the possibility that Jacklyn was negligent as well. That was enough to go forward with the case.
If you’ve been hurt in an auto accident, reach out to the Queens car accident attorneys at Newman, Anzalone & Newman. Our team has years of experience helping injured people at every step in the accident litigation process. 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:
How Visual Evidence Can Be a Key Part of a Successful New York Auto Accident Case, New York Personal Injury Lawyers Blog, Nov. 7, 2017
Winning Your New York Car Accident Case Using a Summary Judgment Motion, New York Personal Injury Lawyers Blog, Oct. 16, 2017