I represent a guy who was badly injured in a Central New York car accident. After all discovery had been exchanged, and the parties had been deposed, I felt I had a pretty good shot at getting “summary judgment” for my client establishing that the other driver was 100% responsible for the collision, and that my client had no fault at all. “Summary Judgment” means that the right answer about who was at fault is so clear that it doesn’t even have to go to a jury. If a plaintiff gets “summary judgment” on liability, it means that the jury does not have to decide whether the defendant is responsible (the court already decided that) but only how much the case is worth.
I lost the motion. The trial judge ruled that there were “issues of fact” for a jury to decide regarding whether my client was also to blame for the accident.
I hate losing. But “sucking up” loses from time to time is part and parcel of being a Central New York car accident lawyer. And don’t believe any lawyer who tells you he or she has never lost a case. If they are handling tough cases, or any significant volume of cases, they have to lose from time to time.
After the court denied my motion, the lawyer representing the defendant offered to settle the case, but with a 30% discount. He believes my client is 30% responsible for the accident, and that his client is 70% responsible.
After discussing this proposal with my client, we decided to reject the offer, and take an appeal instead. If I win on appeal, the defendant’s lawyer will no longer be asking for a 30% discount. He will have to pay us the full value of the case. It’s worth a shot!
While it is always hard to predict what an appellate court is going to do, I feel we have at least a good shot and getting a reversal of the trial court’s ruling, and having the appellate court rule that my client was free of fault, and that the other driver was 100% responsible.
I will be going up to Rochester to argue the appeal in a few weeks. My client and I are both crossing our fingers. Wish us luck!