Reversing Supreme Court, the Second Department determined plaintiffs, who were struck from the rear in a vehicle collision, were entitled to summary judgment. A “conclusory” allegation by the defendant that plaintiffs’ vehicle caused the accident by stopping suddenly was not enough to defeat the motion. The court explained the relevant law:
“When the driver of an automobile approaches another automobile from the rear, he or she is bound to maintain a reasonably safe rate of speed and control over his vehicle, and to exercise reasonable care to avoid colliding with the other vehicle” … .
“A rear-end collision with a stopped or stopping vehicle creates a prima facie case of negligence against the operator of the rear vehicle, thereby requiring that operator to rebut the inference of negligence by providing a nonnegligent explanation for the collision”‘ … .
A nonnegligent explanation for a rear-end collision may include evidence of a sudden stop of the lead vehicle … . However, “vehicle stops which are foreseeable under the prevailing traffic conditions, even if sudden and frequent, must be anticipated by the driver who follows, since he or she is under a duty to maintain a safe distance between his or her car and the car ahead”… . Moreover, “[a] conclusory assertion by the operator of the following vehicle that the sudden stop of the vehicle caused the accident is insufficient, in and of itself, to provide a nonnegligent explanation” … . Brothers v Bartling, 2015 NY Slip Op 05630, 2nd Dept 7-1-15