The Importance of Securing a Summary Judgement
Jan 16, 2020 | 4720 views | 0 0 comments | 423 423 recommendations | email to a friend | print

On October 28, 2016 a pedestrian was walking on the sidewalk along Ardsely Road in Westchester County. On the road was an entrance to the parking lot for a local restaurant.  It was her intention to cross the sidewalk parking lot area and continue walking down Ardsely.  Prior to crossing the area, she looked both ways to make sure that no cars were either entering or leaving the parking lot.  Once she was assured that the sidewalk was safe, she began crossing. 

Unfortunately for this soon-to-be-injured pedestrian, the defendant who was driving his car while working, was not nearly as careful.  It was the defendant’s intention to make a left turn into the parking lot from Ardsely street. 

During his out of court testimony, he was forced to admit that he did indeed hit the injured victim with his car.  In fact, he admitted that he never even saw the pedestrian before the accident.  What is worse is that because he never saw her, he was accelerating at the time of the accident.  Once he hit the injured victim, he got out of the car and saw her on the ground. 

If, for some reason, these facts were not enough to convince a judge that the defendant was at fault for the accident, the injured party was also able to bring forward a witness to the accident.  That witness testified that immediately before the collision he saw the victim turn her body to the front of the defendant’s car and try to avoid serious injury by placing her hands in front of her. 

The final, and perhaps most important piece of evidence was a picture of where the accident happened. The picture demonstrated that the accident happened in the middle of the walkway.  This necessarily meant that the injured party would have walked halfway across, giving the defendant driver more than enough time to see her.  Quite simply he should have paid closer attention so that this accident was avoided. 

The overwhelming nature of the evidence made perfect fodder for a summary judgment motion.  A summary judgment motion is where your lawyer can send papers to the judge and try to win a portion, or all of your case before it ever gets to a jury for a final verdict.  Here, despite all of the evidence the first judge denied the summary judgment motion.  For the injured party, or “plaintiff”, this can be very frustrating.  A bad ruling can delay a case unnecessarily and as the saying goes, justice delayed is justice denied.  Luckily, the injured party was able to appeal, and the Appellate Court made the right decision granting summary judgment.  They applied the proper law in New York which is that “a driver is bound to see what there is to be seen with the proper use of his or her senses.”  Essentially, they said look where you are going when you are driving so innocent people don’t get hurt. 

Even in obvious cases it is important to move for, and win, summary judgment decisions.  In most instances, if you win a summary judgment motion, then interest will start on any award you may receive from a jury.  For example, if you have had summary judgment for a year, and a jury awards $1,000,000, often times you will get to add 9% percent to that award for a total of $1,090,000.  This, obviously, can significantly increase a recovery. 

Another important aspect of this, or any case, is collectability of a verdict.  In this case it was noted that the defendant was driving his car while working. This is called “being in the course of employment.”  If a person is negligent and causes an accident in the course of employment, the employer is responsible as well.  This often means that there is more insurance coverage to collect any award and interest which is owed to an injured party. 

Having the right lawyer to navigate these nuances is incredibly important if you or a loved one have suffered an injury.  It can, and does, make all the difference in the world. If you choose a lawyer, who like the defendant in this case, cannot see what is right in front of him, it will negatively impact your life forever. 

If you or someone you know has been the victim of an accident, please reach out to us for a free legal consultation by calling 24/7 at 212-514-5100, emailing me at swp@plattalaw.com or visiting our law firm in Lower Manhattan (42 Broadway, Suite 1927).  You can also ask us questions through the 24-hour chat box on our website (www.plattalaw.com).  We offer free consultations for all potential personal injury cases.

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