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Chmiel Wins Appeal with Regard to an Automobile Accident Involving a Stranded Vehicle on Bridge


December 2016 --- In Zbock vs. Brown, et al, we represented the defendant, Ronnie Brown. On the date of the accident, Brown’s vehicle became disabled near the top of the North Grand Island Bridge. He turned on his hazard lights in order to warn other drivers of his disabled vehicle. He then began walking down the Grand Island Bridge in order to get help.

Meanwhile, several vehicles moved into the left lane in order to avoid Brown’s disabled vehicle. However, a vehicle driven by one of the co-defendants did not see the disabled vehicle and was forced to come to a sudden stop in order to avoid an impact. Immediately afterward, a motorcycle driven by the plaintiff then ran into the rear of this co-defendant’s stopped vehicle. As a result of this collision, the plaintiff unfortunately died.

The plaintiff’s estate argued that Brown should have done more to warn other drivers of his disabled vehicle. For example, it was argued that he could have placed reflective triangles or flares on the road. We argued that this would have been incredibly dangerous given the traffic and location of the disabled vehicle.

The plaintiff also argued that it was possible that Brown’s hazard lights were not on, as a result of the testimony of a witness who, two hours after the accident, observed Brown’s vehicle and did not see the hazard lights on. We argued that this testimony did not create a question of fact, given the amount of time that expired after the accident before the witness made these observations. Additionally, three other witnesses saw that the hazard lights were on at the time of the accident.

As a result, the Appellate Division, Fourth Department, dismissed the claims against Brown. This appeal was argued by partner, Michael J. Chmiel, Esq. 

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