Following a string of catastrophic automobile accidents involving commercial vehicles, New York has arrested 46 individuals for driving with suspended commercial driver’s licenses.
On March 15, 2011, 15 people were killed in a commercial bus accident while traveling on a bus returning from a casino.
Such accidents expose the drivers who caused these accidents to criminal liability as well as civil liability for causing injuries, pain and suffering, lost income and wrongful death to the victims and their families.
It is now well settled in New York that in negligence actions, summary judgment in favor of plaintiff is warranted where the defendants own conduct inculpates him. Ugarizza v. Schmieder, 46 N.Y.2d 471 (1979); Andre v. Pomeroy; 35 N.Y.S.2d 361 (1974); Gerard v. Ingelese, 11 A.D.2d 381; Siegel, Practice Commentaries, CPLR 3212; pp 104-105 (McK Supp).
In Terranella v. Cohen, 491 N.Y.S.2d 711, it was succinctly held that it is negligence as a matter of law where defendant’s liability is clear, unless there is a true excuse. The Court of Appeals has held that summary judgment in a negligence action will be granted to plaintiff where there is no conflict at all in the evidence, the defendant’s conduct falls below reasonable care and plaintiff’s conduct is not causally involved. Cf. Heimrich v. Stevens, 67 A.D.2d 1093.
Similarly, in Young v. City of New York, 113 A.D.2d 833, 439 N.Y.S.2d 586, it was specifically held that a rear-end collision is “sufficient to create a prima facie case of liability on the part of plaintiff and imposes a duty of explanation with respect to the operator of the offending vehicle”, citing O’Callahan v. Flitter, 112 A.D.2d 1030, 493 N.Y.S.2d and Carter v. Castle Electric Contracting Co., Inc., 26 A.D.2d 83, 271 N.Y.S. 2d 51See Also; Acampora v. Davis, 610 N.Y.S.2d 311; Ramos v. Thall, 612 N.Y.S.2d 934; Parise v. Meltzer, 611 N.Y.S.2d 291; Forbes v. Plunne, 609 N.Y.S.2d 387.
A driver of a vehicle must not only maintain a reasonably safe distance between himself and the traffic he is following, but he is also charged with being aware of traffic and road conditions including a stoppage in traffic caused by another driver several cars ahead. Reingold Sass v. Ambu Trans Inc., 657 N.Y.S.2d 69; Barba v. Best Security Corp (Supra) Bando-Twomey v. Richheimer, (Supra); Lectora v. Gundrieni, 255 A.D.2d 738; McCarthy v. Miller, 139 A.D.2d 738, Cerda v. Parsley, et al. (Supra), Aloia v. Stoffel, (Supra).