rear end collision nyc

In 2018, the National Safety Council reported that two-car collisions were the most commonly occurring motor vehicle accidents. Of these, unsurprisingly, close to 50 percent of cases were found to involve rear-end collisions. Like any other busy city, New York is no exception to such accidents that mostly occur because drivers do not have the patience to maintain the specified distance from the car in front.

Getting injured in a rear-end collision in NYC may result in not just pain and suffering, but also huge financial setbacks. The crash victim has to pay for their medical bills even as their income suffers because they have to take time off from work. Filing a personal injury claim to get damages is therefore important and to do this, you need to understand the concept of liability in rear-end collisions in New York.

What are the Common Causes of Rear-end Collisions in New York?

Data from the National Transportation Safety Board shows that most rear-end crashes occur because:

  • A driver is moving at great speed and so, they cannot come to a sudden stop in time to avoid hitting the vehicle in front.
  • A vehicle is being driven in a distracted manner because the driver is sleepy or busy eating or drinking or texting or talking on the phone.
  • Drivers indulge in tailgating. That is, they follow the vehicle in front too closely and this leaves them with too little time and space to respond when the vehicle in front suddenly stops.
  • Poor weather conditions interfere with the driver’s ability to control their car’s movement.
  • A vehicle develops a sudden mechanical fault such as a brake failure that prevents the driver from being able to stop.

What Injuries May Occur in New York City Rear-End Crashes?

Most people assume that compared to head-on collisions, rear-end crashes are not so dangerous. But it is important to remember that even a rear-end crash involves an unnatural jolt to the body of the car’s occupants and this can lead to a severe injury. When a car hits another vehicle in front, it is akin to crashing into a solid surface and this impact can be forceful enough to damage different parts of the neck and spinal cord.

Rear-end collisions in New York have been known to cause severe injuries that may include:

  • Whiplash
  • Concussions
  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Damage to the spinal cord including herniated or bulging discs and paralysis
  • Fracture of the ribs and bones in the arms and wrists
  • Facial bone fractures
  • Soft tissue injuries
  • Burn injuries that arise from airbag deployment

What Damages Can You Claim for a Rear-end Collision in NYC?

Anyone who has been injured in a rear-end collision can claim compensation for both economic and non-economic losses such as:

  • Ambulance charges
  • Emergency room treatment
  • Medical treatment or hospitalization bills
  • Prescription medicine expenses
  • Physical or other rehabilitation therapy fees
  • Lost wages
  • Loss of earning capacity in the future
  • Scarring and disfigurement
  • Pain and suffering
  • Loss of enjoyment
  • Loss of consortium

In crashes where the party at fault was found to be driving in a reckless manner or under the influence of drugs or alcohol, your rear-end collision lawyer in New York City may also help you to claim punitive damages.

Rear Vehicle is Almost Always Liable for a Rear-end Collision in New York

Under New York’s traffic laws, there must always be a safe distance between two cars driving on a road. Logically speaking, maintaining this distance is the responsibility of the rear car driver because the front driver cannot do anything about it. When the rear driver does not keep sufficiently away and then rams into the vehicle in front of them, it is but natural for the law to find them responsible for the crash.

In some cases, it may so happen that the rear driver was driving keeping a safe distance but the car ahead of them suddenly brakes to a stop, leading to a rear-end collision. There could be several reasons for this – perhaps a pedestrian suddenly stepped onto the road, or maybe a child ran out into the car’s path, or it could be a snag in the traffic that caused them to apply their brakes.

While you could argue that this makes the accident the responsibility of the front driver, the law will not support this viewpoint. It may appear unjust, but the fact is that if a rear driver keeps the legally specified distance away from the car in front and drives with focus, they should have been able to avoid the crash even if the vehicle in front came to a sudden stop.

Are There Exceptions to Rear Driver Liability in NYC Rear-end Collisions?

The law does recognize exceptional circumstances in which the rear driver is considered as non-negligent despite having followed too closely and colliding with the car in front. For example, if the rear driver was driving at a safe distance but another car veered into their lane, they would be forced by their self-protective reflex to reduce the gap between their vehicle and the car in front.

Sometimes, there may be a natural event such as a rockslide that was unanticipated. To avoid being hit, the rear driver may have speeded up to get to safety and in the process, traveled too close to the vehicle in front, and ended up causing a rear-end collision.

In such situations, the court may conclude that this behavior was a non-negligent reason for the crash. However, to be able to qualify for such a tag, the rear driver must be able to prove that the situation was an emergency that was totally unforeseeable and beyond their control.

Who is Liable for a Rear-end Crash that Triggers a Multi-Car Pileup?

When one car rear-ends the car in front, the latter is likely to crash into the car in front and this can easily set off a multi-car pileup that is also known as a chain-link accident. In these crashes, it is the action of the rear-most driver that triggers the reaction from the cars ahead of them. So, it is natural that the rear-most driver will be held liable for the crash. However, like in 2-car crashes, this will not be true if it can be shown that there was a non-negligent reason for the collision.

Another factor to be considered in multi-car pileups is whether the other car drivers were following the specified safe distance or not. If evidence shows that they were too close to the cars ahead of them, those drivers may also be considered negligent and therefore, partly liable for the crash.

New York’s No-Fault Rules for Personal Injury

If you have been injured in a rear-end collision in New York, and want to claim damages, it is important to understand the rules regarding no-fault and comparative negligence.

Under the no-fault rules, a driver who has a vehicle with New York registration and license needs to have no-fault insurance coverage. This will cover the expenses up to $50,000 for any injuries that an individual may sustain in a motor vehicle accident irrespective of which party was involved.

In more serious accidents where the losses sustained are too great to be covered by no-fault insurance coverage, it is possible for the victim to bring a personal injury claim outside of this policy. An experienced NY rear-end crash personal injury lawyer can guide you about these aspects.

Comparative Negligence in New York City Rear-End Collisions

Under New York’s rule of pure comparative negligence, it is possible that both parties involved in the rear-end crash may be found partially at fault. In such a situation, it may be possible for both parties to recover damages to some extent and the final amount they receive will be a reflection of their contribution to the crash. A competent personal injury attorney in New York can help you understand these concepts and guide you through the complex legal process of claiming the compensation that is your rightful due.

Get in Touch With a Skilled NYC Rear-end Collision Attorney

Driving on the congested streets of New York can be quite difficult and this makes rear-end accidents a common sight. If you are the front driver who was injured due to the car behind crashing into you, it’s paramount to claim compensation for your injuries. If you are the rear driver who ended up colliding with the car in front despite driving in a safe manner, it may be possible to recover some of the damages by showing that the driver in front was partly to blame for the crash.

The professional car accident attorneys at Rosenberg, Minc, Falkoff & Wolff, LLP have worked with several clients involved in rear-end collisions and helped them get justice. To learn more about how we can help you do the same, contact us today at 212-344-1000 or contact us online for a free and confidential case evaluation.


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