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Prima Facie Cases of Negligence in New York Car Accident Cases

Rear-end accidents are a somewhat unique type of auto accident case in that the law creates certain legal presumptions about which driver was to blame for a rear-end accident. These presumptions can be very helpful if you are the injured driver of the vehicle that was rear-ended. In some situations, you may be entitled to a judgment holding the other driver liable without even having to undergo a trial on the issue of liability. An experienced New York accident injury attorney can help guide you through the legal processes of obtaining compensation for your rear-end accident damages.

To understand how these cases work, here’s a recent case that offers a real-life illustration. N.H. was a driver injured in a crash in Westchester County. In her case, N.H. testified that she had approached a red traffic signal and stopped. Five seconds later, another driver rear-ended her.

If you are injured because someone crashes into you from behind, that fact is potentially very helpful. New York law says that merely offering proof that you were rear-ended while stopped or stopping “establishes a prima facie case of negligence on the part of the” rear driver.

“Prima facie” is Latin phrase that approximately translates to “first look.” In the law, you, as the injured plaintiff, have the obligation to make a prima facie case. Once you do that, the burden of proof shifts over to the defendant to demonstrate why the law should not declare her to be liable.

All of this works together potentially to assist your case greatly. As N.H. did, all you need to do is testify that you were stopped and that the rear driver rear-ended you. That testimony is enough to create a prima facie case, which means that the rear driver has to offer some proof of some sort of non-negligent explanation as to why she rear-ended you.

If the rear driver has no viable factual disputes that she can raise regarding her lack of negligence, then that means that you may be entitled to summary judgment on the issue of liability. Summary judgment means that the court has declared the defendant to be liable without having to hold a trial on that issue. You get to avoid the delays and stress of a full trial on liability, and you and your legal team can proceed to prepare for a trial on the issue of the extent of your damages (and how much compensation you should receive).

In N.H.’s case, she had a prima facie case and the rear driver “failed to raise a triable issue of fact in opposition,” so N.H. was entitled to summary judgment on the issue of liability, according to an Appellate Division opinion.

For helpful advice and effective advocacy, reach out to the helpful Queens auto accident attorneys at Newman, Anzalone & Newman. Our team has been aiding people injured in auto accidents for 40 years. To put our experience to work for you, schedule a free consultation with one of our highly qualified attorneys. Contact us toll-free at 877-754-3099 or through our website.

More Blog Posts:

I’ve Been Hurt in a Chain-Reaction Accident in New York; What Should I Do Now?, New York Personal Injury Lawyers Blog, April 25, 2018

A Blocked Lane Change Doesn’t Allow a Rear Driver in New York to Escape Liability, New York Personal Injury Lawyers Blog, April 19, 2018

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