Video Surveillance Tape Results in Summary Judgment for Plaintiff in Car Accident Case

If a picture is worth a thousand words, a video must be worth… more.

A recent decision, Franco v. Palmer (Supreme Court, Queens County, decided December 1, 2014), illustrates the significant benefits of video evidence in a car accident case. The court granted summary judgment to the plaintiff, finding that a surveillance video of an accident established that the defendant driver was 100% at fault.

In this case, plaintiff claims that she had the green light when her vehicle was broadsided by the defendants’ vehicle, which allegedly went through a red light.

The court explained:

This Court finds that the plaintiff established that the defendant’s negligence was the sole proximate cause of the subject accident. The evidence submitted, including the deposition testimony of the plaintiff and the video surveillance video demonstrates that the defendant violated Vehicle and Traffic Law § 1111 when his vehicle failed to stop at a red traffic light and proceeded into the intersection and directly into the plaintiff’s vehicle.

In opposition to plaintiff’s prima facie showing, the defendants failed to raise any material questions of fact as to the causation of the accident and whether plaintiff was comparatively. The plaintiff as the driver with the right-of-way was entitled to anticipate that the defendant would obey traffic laws which require him to stop at the red traffic signal. Further, a driver with the right-of-way who has only seconds to react to a vehicle which has failed to yield is not comparatively at fault for failing to avoid the collision.

Although the defendant claims that the traffic signal was yellow when he entered the intersection, this Court finds that such testimony is belied by the video surveillance tape showing that the defendant ran the red light without slowing down several seconds after it turned red. Although the courts may not weigh the credibility of witnesses on a motion for summary judgment, it has been held that the court may disregard testimony where it clearly appears that the issues raised are not genuine, but feigned. Here, based upon the review of the video, the affidavit of witness Galjeet Singh and the report of the plaintiff’s expert accident reconstructionist, this court finds that the testimony of the defendant was an attempt to raise a feigned question of fact. Based upon a review of the surveillance video, the defendant’s assertion that the light was yellow when he entered the intersection lacks an evidentiary basis.

In addition, this court finds that the testimony of Daljeet Singh, who was present at the time of the accident and who reviewed the surveillance video, and who has maintained possession of the surveillance video is sufficient to authenticate the surveillance video and to establish that a video recording submitted with the motion is a true, fair, and accurate representation of the events depicted, and is sufficient to establish chain of custody … .

Therefore, the plaintiff satisfied her prima facie burden of establishing her freedom from comparative negligence and her entitlement to partial summary judgment as a matter of law on the issue of liability.

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