Did He Stop or Did He Not, That is the Question
On November 25, 2020, the Second Department reversed the Supreme Court and decided that a defendant's claim that the plaintiffs' car stopped suddenly did not raise a question of fact to defendant's negligence, and therefore summary judgment should have been granted.
Prior case law provides that the “emergency doctrine” does not apply to typical accidents involving rear-end collisions because trailing drivers are required to leave a reasonable distance between their vehicles and the vehicles ahead. Defendant had submitted a police accident report and an affidavit of the defendant, both of which stated that the plaintiffs' vehicle made a sudden stop behind a vehicle that had stopped in front of the plaintiff. However, the defendant could not recall the speed at which he was traveling, or when he had first observed the plaintiffs' vehicle prior to the accident.
The Court determined that without such evidence the assertion that plaintiffs' vehicle came to a sudden stop was insufficient to rebut the inference that the defendant was negligent, and the defendant failed to demonstrate that the emergency doctrine was applicable.'
Would the Court have changed its decision if it had known the defendant's speed? What would the Court have considered a "sudden stop” that would have warranted the emergency doctrine to be utilized?
Each case is different, but if you tailgate and strike the rear of the vehicle in front of you - you will be liable (responsible) for the injuries caused. Having an attorney that knows what to look for is key in being successful