Last month, a state appellate court issued an opinion in a Florida truck accident case seeking clarification from the state’s high court. The Fifth District Court of Appeal released the opinion, asking the Florida Supreme Court whether there should be a different summary judgment standard involving video evidence.
Summary judgment is a stage in which either party can ask the judge to enter judgment in their favor based on the other side’s inability to succeed at trial. When reviewing a party’s motion for summary judgment, the court considers all the evidence that is not in dispute and applies the applicable law to those facts. If the court determines that the law favors the moving party, it will grant that party’s motion for summary judgment, avoiding the need for a trial. Of course, if there is conflicting evidence relating to a material issue in the case, summary judgment is not appropriate, and the case must be submitted to a jury. The jury will then resolve the factual issues, and the court will instruct the jury how it should rule based on how the jury decides the issues.
This case presented an issue that arises with increasing frequency; how courts should handle conflicting evidence in the summary judgment stage when one party presents video evidence. The facts of the case are explained in the court’s opinion as follows: A man was driving on the highway when he rear-ended a semi-truck. The man died, and his estate filed a Florida wrongful death case against the truck driver.
During the summary judgment hearing, the estate presented the testimony of an eyewitness, who claimed that the truck driver suddenly changed lanes immediately before the accident. In response, the truck driver played a video from a front-facing dashboard camera. The footage showed that the truck was in the center lane and stopped at a red light when it experienced the impact. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of the truck driver, and the estate appealed.
On appeal, the Fifth District Court of Appeal reversed the lower court’s decision. The court explained that the standard for summary judgment is clear, and requires that a motion for summary judgment be denied if there is conflicting evidence on a material issue. The court noted that there was technically conflicting evidence regarding the collision through the eyewitness. However, the court acknowledged that its ruling, while complying with the current law, may not have made a lot of sense because the video footage more reliably documented what occurred. Thus, the court asked the Florida Supreme Court whether a different standard should be used if one party’s video evidence “completely negates or refutes any conflicting evidence presented by the non-moving party.”
Have You Been Injured in a Florida Truck Accident?
If you or a loved one has recently been injured in a Florida truck accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. The dedicated injury advocates at Friedman Rodman & Frank can help you pursue your claim against negligent truck drivers. At our South Florida personal injury law firm, we represent injury victims in all types of claims, including Florida car wrecks, motorcycle crashes, and slip-and-fall cases. To learn more about how we can help you with your case, call 877-448-8585 to schedule a free consultation today.