In Quinones v.
United States Postal Service,
et al. (January 17, 2013), the U.S. District Court found that:
Where 1. a plaintiff was passing a stopped U.S. Postal Service truck on the left and 2. the USPS truck began to move, the plaintiff swerved, collided with another vehicle, and was injured, the defendant USPS is not entitled to dismissal of the plaintiff's negligence claim, as the record is insufficient to establish that the USPS was not negligent as a matter of law.
"The mere happening of a collision, 'without evidence of the circumstances under which it happens is not proof of the negligence of the operator of either vehicle, and the rule of res ipsa loquitur does not apply'...Similarly, evidence that a party violated a safety statute or ordinance is 'but evidence of negligence' and does not establish per se liability...This court is not prepared to rule that, as a matter of law, it was not negligent of the USPS driver to pull out into the travel lane when he did, or that it was negligent of the plaintiff to swerve to the left instead of stopping when she noticed that the USPS truck was moving. In this case, it should be up to the jury to determine if 'the negligent act of the defendent set in motion a train of events which, unbroken by any new cause, continued as an operative factor down to the time of the accident and was the proximate cause of it.'"
This case is interesting because it establishes that while violating a safety statute can be a way to show negligence on the part of one of the parties to an accident, it is not in and of itself enough to prove liability. Liability in a motor vehicle accident is not always 100% clear, and many factors can be relevant in determining who is at fault for an accident and any subsequent injuries.If you've been injured in a motor vehicle accident and believe another party is at fault, contact our office today for a free consultation.