Tuesday, February 28, 2017

A rear-end collision and summary judgment.

The Appellate Division affirmed the granting of plaintiff's summary judgment motion on the issue of liability, finding that plaintiff established that defendant-driver was negligent. Although plaintiff came to a sudden stop and defendants contend that the icy road conditions provide a valid, non-negligent explanation for the accident, a driver must maintain enough distance between himself and cars ahead so as to avoid collisions with stopped vehicles, taking into account weather and road conditions. Defendants' reliance on the emergency doctrine is misplaced, as defendant-driver was aware of inclement weather conditions and should have accounted for them.

Practice point:  A rear-end collision with a stopped or stopping vehicle establishes a prima facie case of negligence on the part of the rear vehicle's driver, and imposes a duty on the part of the moving vehicle's operator to offer an adequate, nonnegligent explanation for the accident. An argument that the plaintiff stopped suddenly does not rebut the presumption of negligence.

Case:  Matos v. Sanchez, NY Slip Op 01306 (1st Dep't February 21, 2017)

Here is the decision.

Tomorrow's issue:  The continuous wrong doctrine.