Who is at Fault in a Rear-End Collision in New York?

Usually, the rear vehicle is legally to blame in a rear-end collision, but this is not always the case. There is what is known as a legal presumption, but it can be overcome by evidence to the contrary.

In New York, the no-fault laws mean that blame is only an issue when the injuries are severe enough to pass the threshold for a lawsuit. There are several ways to approach this, so always speak with an experienced attorney to discuss your options.

The presumption of liability in a rear-end crash

According to the decisions handed down by New York courts, a rear-end crash is prima facie– on its face– evidence that the driver of the second vehicle (that did the striking) was negligent and that the driver of the first vehicle (that was struck) was not. The rear vehicle is often ticketed for violating the New York Vehicle and Traffic Law 1129, which prohibits following too closely.

Rear car liability is a rebuttable presumption– the defendant driver of the second vehicle has the burden of presenting evidence that shows they were not negligent. This is not easy to do but can be successful in certain situations. Some examples include:

  • The front driver cut the back driver off before stopping suddenly
  • An emergency in the road required the second driver to speed up
  • A mechanical failure led to the crash

Common causes of rear-end collisions

There are approximately 2,000 people killed annually in the U.S. in rear-end collisions. According to the National Transportation Safety Board, the most common causes of these crashes include:

  • Driver inattentiveness
  • Failure to maintain a safe distance
  • Speeding
  • Distracted driving
  • Dangerous weather or road conditions
  • Automotive mechanical problem

Most of these crashes are avoidable. Your attorney can help you gather the evidence needed to prove who or what was to blame.

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Recovering compensation for rear-ender injuries in New York

Even though the rear driver is usually at fault, this does not always matter. New York’s no-fault insurance laws mean an injured party must seek compensation under their insurance policy. This is regardless of fault unless the injuries qualify as “serious”—as noted above. PIP coverage will provide reimbursement for medical expenses and other economic losses.

If your injuries are serious, a lawyer can help you establish your right to pursue a personal injury lawsuit. This can provide complete financial recovery because it allows you to pursue compensation for non-economic losses like pain and suffering.

Other factors that will affect your recovery

Liability is not the only question in a car crash case. If you are pursuing a claim, many other factors can affect your compensation, including:

  • Economic loss – The total out-of-pocket costs, including medical bills, property damage, and lost income—these all play a part in the amount of a settlement or verdict
  • Medical history – Even if the driver was negligent, they are not liable for injuries or medical conditions that existed before the accident, though they may be legally responsible for making them worse.
  • Non-monetary losses – If you are permitted to step outside the no-fault system to file a lawsuit, your non-economic losses like physical and emotional pain and suffering and loss of consortium will play a part in your economic recovery
  • Intangible impressions – The impression that you or your witnesses make on insurance adjusters and juries will affect how they judge your trustworthiness. Even if the defendant’s liability is clear, you still need to prove your injuries and related losses, which can include explaining to a jury how it has impacted your life.

The skilled New York City car accident lawyers of Douglas and London take these variables into account when advocating for you to receive maximum compensation for your injuries.

Contact us today at Douglas and London

If you or a loved one have been injured in a rear-end collision in New York, do not make any assumptions about the outcome. Discuss your case for free with us. Deadlines limit the time you have to pursue a claim, so call today.