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Defendants Provide Non-Negligent Explanation

May 19, 2023

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In<em> <a href="https://www.wcmlaw.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/05/Bello-v.-Masters-Auto-Collision-of-Long-Is.-Inc.pdf">Bello v. Masters Auto Collision of Long Is., Inc.</a></em>, the Second Department recently addressed whether the defendants were not at fault in the subject car accident. The plaintiff was a passenger in a vehicle driven by co-defendant Alcantar which allegedly struck the rear of a vehicle owned by defendant Masters Auto and operated by defendant Mendez. Masters Auto and Mendez moved for summary judgment dismissing the complaint.

The Court set forth that a driver of a vehicle approaching another vehicle from the rear is required to maintain a reasonably safe distance and rate of speed under the prevailing conditions to avoid colliding with the other vehicle. Thus, a rear-end collision with a stopped or stopping vehicle establishes a prima facie case of negligence on the operator of the rear vehicle. In turn, to rebut the inference of negligence, that operator is required to provide a nonnegligent explanation for the collision.

Master Auto and Mendez established that they were struck in the rear when stopped in traffic, and as such were not at fault. This decision serves as a reminder the burden a party has when involved in a rear-end collision.

Thanks to Corey Morgenstern for his contribution to this article. Should you have any questions, please contact <a href="agibbs@wcmlaw.com">Andrew Gibbs</a>.

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