Rear-End Hit Not Necessarily Negligence (NY)

A rear end hit normally spells liability, but in that rarest of rare cases, a plaintiff just might not be entitled to summary judgment on this issue.

The plaintiff, in Greenidge v. UPS, was a passenger in a car rear ended by a UPS truck.  The UPS driver testified that the vehicle the plaintiff was in entered his lane suddenly and then braked suddenly, leaving the him with no time to react.  The lower court granted the plaintiff’s summary judgment motion, finding that a rear-end collision establishes a prima facie case of negligence. 

 The Second Department reversed the lower court’s decision because the testimony regarding the sudden lane change created triable issues of fact.  The court further noted that, even though the parties agreed that the vehicle the plaintiff was in was stopped when it was hit in the rear, the evidence of the sudden lane change and abrupt stop, called into question UPS’ negligence.

Thanks to Georgia Coats for her contribution.

For more information, contact Denise Fontana Ricci at dricci@wcmlaw.com.