Recently, a state appellate court issued an opinion certifying a question to the state’s high court after a plaintiff appealed a lower’s court decision to grant the defendant’s motion for summary judgment in a Florida car accident. According to the court’s opinion, the plaintiff died after rear-ending the defendant’s Freightliner truck. Evidently, both motorists were driving on a six-lane Florida highway towards an intersection. The plaintiff rear-ended the back of the Freightliner, pushing the truck forward into another vehicle. The plaintiff died because of the injuries he suffered in the accident.
The plaintiff’s estate filed a personal injury lawsuit against the Freightliner driver, alleging that he negligently switched lanes before the accident, ultimately causing the rear-end. The defendant testified that he was traveling in the center of the three lanes, and he felt the pickup truck rear-end him while he was approaching the intersection. The defendant presented video evidence from his dashcam to substantiate his claims. However, the plaintiff’s eyewitness and an expert witness both testified that the defendant quickly changed lanes before the collision.
The defendant argued that under Florida law, motorists who rear-end another car are presumed negligent. Moreover, he claimed that the defendant’s video footage flatly contradicted the plaintiff’s expert and eyewitness testimonies. Ultimately, the trial court granted the defendant’s motion for summary judgment. On appeal, the plaintiff argued that the trial court erred in granting summary judgment because their eyewitness and expert witness created a genuine issue of material fact.
Under Florida law, appeals courts “should indulge all proper inferences in favor of the party against whom summary judgment was sought.” Further, courts cannot grant summary judgment if the record suggests that there may be any possibility that there is a genuine issue of a material fact. Even the slightest doubt must be decided against the party moving for summary judgment, and the court must deny the motion.
Here, the trial court stated that the defendant’s video evidence contradicts the plaintiff’s witnesses, and granted summary judgment. However, trial courts cannot consider the weight of the evidence that the parties present; they must only look to whether there is a genuine issue of a material fact. In other words, even though the defendant’s evidence is compelling, it is a jury’s job to determine whether the eyewitness and expert witness are credible. The appeals court reversed the summary judgment motion, but conceded that this case highlights inherent issues with Florida’s summary judgment standard in light of technological advancements.
The court acknowledged that video and digital footage is being more regularly used in Florida car accident lawsuits. They certified a question to the Florida Supreme Court, asking the Court whether there should be an exception to the summary judgment standard. Specifically, whether Florida state courts should grant summary judgment motions in favor of the party moving for summary judgment if they have video evidence that completely disproves the other party’s conflicting evidence.
Have You Suffered Injuries in a Florida Car Accident?
If you or a loved one has sustained injuries in a Florida car accident, you should contact the dedicated personal injury attorneys at the Law Offices of Robert Dixon. The attorneys at our firm have extensive experience handling complex Florida accident lawsuits. We understand the importance of keeping up-to-date with new and relevant changes in the law. These changes can significantly impact how a plaintiff’s personal injury lawsuit should be handled. Our attorneys can assist you in getting the compensation you deserve. Compensation awards may include damages for lost wages, medical costs, and pain and suffering. Contact our South Florida law firm today at 1-877-499-4878 to schedule your free initial consultation.