Court Examines Summary Judgment Standard in Recent Florida Car Accident Case

A Florida appellate court recently issued a written decision in which it examined the summary judgment standard in a negligence case arising out of a traffic accident. According to the court’s opinion, the accident occurred at an intersection when a driver of a sports utility vehicle (SUV) was heading south on the road, while the plaintiff, on a motorcycle, was driving north. The driver of the SUV was making a left turn when the plaintiff, still heading north, crashed into the right front fender of the SUV. The plaintiff, who testified that he was unable to stop in time to avoid the crash, was seriously injured.

The driver of the SUV stated that he did not see the motorcycle coming because his view of oncoming traffic was obstructed by newly planted palm trees at the median. The city, which was the defendant in this case, was responsible for the palm trees, which had wooden supports at their base, allegedly blocking the driver’s view. The motorcyclist sued the city for negligent design and placement of the palm trees, because they obstructed driver’s views of oncoming traffic when making a turn.

In response, the city claimed that it did not know, nor should it have known, that the planting of the palm trees with the wooden supports created a dangerous condition. Under Florida law, if the city was correct, the suit could not move forward. The city filed a motion for summary judgment to end the lawsuit, which was granted by the trial court. The plaintiff then appealed.

Relying on the evidence submitted by both parties, the appellate court overturned the grant of summary judgment, finding that there were genuine issues of material fact as to whether or not the city created a dangerous condition that it either knew or should have known. The court particularly paid attention to an affidavit from a traffic engineer and accident reconstructionist, submitted by the plaintiff, that examined the site of the palm trees and concluded they restricted the view of drivers making left turns at the intersection. The city, in its defense, submitted thirteen accident reports, claiming that no one involved in these accidents stated that the palm trees contributed to their accidents. However, the plaintiff went through the accident reports and then presented affidavits from three of the individuals involved, in which they claimed that the palm trees did, in fact, obstruct their view and cause their accidents.

Based on the conflicting evidence, the appellate court concluded that there was a genuine issue of material fact as to whether or not the city created a dangerous condition that it knew, or should have known, about. As a result, the lower court’s decision was overturned, and the plaintiff was allowed to take his case to trial to seek compensation for his injuries.

Have You or a Loved One Been Injured in a Florida Traffic Accident?

If you or a loved one has recently been injured in a Florida traffic accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. Contact the dedicated personal injury attorneys at Frankl Kominksy today to discuss your case. Our attorneys understand the inner workings of Florida personal injury law, and are experienced in representing Florida accident victims as they seek compensation for their injuries. To learn more, and to schedule your free initial consultation today, call (561) 800-8000.