Florida Appeals Court Seeks Clarification on Summary Judgment Standard in Truck Accident Case

Have you or your loved one been injured in a truck accident? If so, you need a trusted Miami truck collision lawyer to evaluate your case and help you determine your legal options. With wide-ranging experience handling personal injury claims for South Florida clients, we know how to help.

A Florida appeals court recently sought clarification from the Florida Supreme Court, asking if there should be a different summary judgment standard when video evidence is involved. Under Florida law, a party is entitled to summary judgment as a matter of law when there is “no genuine issue” pertaining to any “material fact.” A material fact, in this context, is anything that tends to prove or disprove a disputed fact that is relevant to the outcome of the case.

The facts of the case are as follows. On January 17, 2017, a man was driving a freightliner truck on the freeway when he was rear ended by a pickup truck. The collision caused the freightliner to hit another vehicle. The pickup truck driver died as a result of the injuries he sustained in the accident.

During the summary judgment hearing, the deceased man’s estate argued that the driver of the freightliner suddenly changed lanes immediately prior to the accident. To rebut this evidence, the truck driver played video from his forward-facing dashcam, which showed him driving in the center lane. As the freightliner came to a stop at a red light, it experienced a large impact, causing it to veer to the left and hit the car in front of it. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of the freightliner driver and the estate filed an appeal.

On appeal, the estate presented the deposition of an eyewitness to the accident who claimed that the freightliner suddenly changed lanes right before the crash. The estate also presented an expert’s opinion, which concluded that part of the freightliner was in another lane at the time of the accident. This opinion was based, in large part, on the deposition of the eyewitness.

The Fifth District Court of Appeal reversed the lower court’s decision explaining that the standard for summary judgment is undisputed and mandates that such a motion be denied when there is conflicting evidence pertaining to a material issue. Here, even though there was conflicting evidence between the dashcam and the eyewitness testimony, the court stated that the video evidence was more reliable in terms of showing what happened. As such, the court asked the Florida Supreme Court to determine if a different standard is appropriate if one party’s video evidence entirely negates or refutes conflicting evidence presented by the non-moving party.

If you have been injured in a truck accident that was not your fault, you might be able to recover compensation for your harm. At the Law Offices of Robert Dixon, our diligent Miami truck accident attorneys understand the specifics of this area of law, including the procedural rules that are applicable in your case. Time is of the essence in these cases so it is important to act as quickly as possible after an accident. Call us today at 1-877-499-HURT (4878) or contact us online.

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