Rear-end collisions are common in New York City due in large part to constant congestion and stop-and-go traffic. Rear-end accidents occur when one car hits another from behind. Sometimes, rear-end accidents are caused by poor road conditions, and other times they are the result of objectively negligent conduct such as rubbernecking or tailgating. While some rear-end collisions result in minor injuries that can be covered by no-fault insurance, many rear-end collisions, especially those that occur at high speed, result in serious injuries that can leave victims with debilitating spinal cord injuries and other unspeakable physical injuries that will cause a lifetime of pain and suffering. Unexpected medical bills and an inability to earn wages that arise from a serious rear-end car accident can destabilize a family financially and emotionally. At Jesse Minc Law Group, our Bronx car accident attorneys have a combined century of experience representing victims of rear-end car accidents, and will put our depth of expertise and knowledge of the law to work for you and your family to ensure that you can obtain justice if you are injured in a rear-end car accident in the Bronx or anywhere else throughout New York City.Proving Liability for Rear-End Collisions
Drivers are expected to operate their cars at safe speeds and keep a safe and sufficient distance between themselves and other cars to avoid rear-end collisions. The law obligates all drivers to take into account weather and traffic conditions, which can make it more dangerous to drive closely to another car. These conditions can reduce the effectiveness of driver safety mechanisms such a braking systems, and can also result in evasive maneuvers that might be used to avoid a rear-end crash being rendered ineffective.
New York Vehicle and Traffic Law (the “VTL”) Section 1129(a) provides that drivers should not follow more closely than what is prudent and reasonable under the circumstances. This important law recognizes that sudden stops and decelerations of cars on the road is inevitable, and that when a driver follows too closely there is a high risk of causing a rear-end collision as a result of this reality. In almost every rear-end car accident case, VTL 1129(a) can be used to create a presumption that the driver to the rear is at fault for causing the rear-end collision. However, there are circumstances in which the driver in front may be at least partially at fault, such as when a driver cuts into a lane of slowing traffic with insufficient room to do so, or when a driver in front has not fixed nonworking brake lights to alert others to his or her rear of the intention to stop or slow down. There are also circumstances in which it is possible to prove that nobody is at fault for a rear-end accident, such as when an unforeseeable emergency requires a quick reaction to an unexpected situation on the road that causes a rear-end collision. If you are injured in a rear-end car accident, you must consult with knowledgeable car accident lawyers to review your case and determine how best to hold a driver who struck you from behind to account. We offer free consultations to victims of rear-end accidents, and will explain the application of the law to you free of charge to ensure that you understand your rights when you are involved in a rear-end car accident.
To establish your right to recover damages from another driver in a rear-end collision, you must prove negligence by a preponderance of the evidence. This means showing that it is more likely than not that the other driver owed you a duty of care, and the other driver breached the duty of care. In the context of a rear-end accident, this means demonstrating simply that a driver behind you struck you in the rear. Once this showing is made, the law presumes that the driver who struck you was negligent and is responsible for the accident; and only by demonstrating a non-negligent explanation for having caused the rear-end accident will the other driver be able to escape liability. After demonstrating negligence, you also must also prove that the accident caused you serious injuries that meet the test under the No-Fault Law.
Sometimes, a rear-end collision is the fault of more than one driver's negligent actions or omissions. For example, in a chain reaction rear-end car accident involving a line of cars all rear-ending each other at the same time, multiple drivers may have been following too closely, and the sum total of their negligence results in a serious rear-end collision involving multiple vehicles. When there are multiple drivers at fault, they are considered "joint tortfeasors" and may be held jointly and severally liable for damages. This means that they can be responsible for more than just an amount of damages that is equal to their own degree of fault. In most types of accident cases, a joint tortfeasor whose liability is 50% or less of the combined fault will only be held responsible for their own share of noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering. Parties that are at fault but immune from liability or unable to be joined do not count when making this calculation.
However, in every car accident case that is subject to New York law, this is not the case. This is because, under VTL Section 388, special rules known as “joint and several liability” allows an injured car accident victim to recover the full amount of their damages from every driver even if an individual driver’s percentage of fault in causing the accident is less than 50%. For example, imagine a situation in which you are sitting at a red light and you are rear-ended because a truck that was traveling behind you was struck by a car traveling behind it, pushing the truck into you and causing an accident. Imagine further that the truck’s brake lights had not been in working order at the time of the accident, so when the truck slowed down to avoid hitting you, the car behind it did not recognize its intention to slow down and thus struck the truck in the rear, pushing it into your car. The case then goes to trial, and the jury finds that the truck was 5% negligent, and the car that struck the truck in the rear was 95% negligent, and that you are entitled to $1,000,000.00 in damages for your injuries. However, the truck carried an insurance policy worth $1,000,000.00, and the car that struck the truck only carried a policy worth $25,000.00. Under VTL 388, even though the truck was only 5% responsible for causing this rear-end collision, it will be required to pay $975,000.00 in damages (the difference between the total amount of damages and the ability to pay of the other vehicle that was 95% responsible for the accident) because it is jointly and severally liable to you for the accident. However, in every car accident case, including rear-end collisions wherein joint and several liability applies, if you as the plaintiff are shown to have been negligent and thus contributed to causing the accident, any damages that you claim can be reduced by an amount equal to your own degree of fault.
Damages recoverable in a rear-end car accident lawsuit often include both economic and noneconomic losses that far exceed the compensation provided under no-fault insurance. Examples of economic damages include medical bills, lost wages, lost earning capacity, bills for necessary household services. Quantifying these damages is done by use of an economist, who will examine your past and future expenses due to your injuries and create a projection of the total amount of economic loss that a rear-end collision has caused you. Non-economic damages include pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life; these damages are much more difficult to quantify, and are usually left in the hands of a jury. The amount of non-economic damages that can be recovered depends on the nature of the injuries and their effects on an injured person’s quality of life. For example, the damages available to compensate for spinal cord injuries would measured differently from those arising from burn injuries because the effects on the quality of life of the injured person will differ materially between these two sets of circumstances.Consult With Expert Rear-End Car Crash Attorneys Today
If you are seriously injured in a rear-end collision caused by distracted driving or another form of negligence in New York City, you should hire an experienced trial attorney. Our firm is very selective both in the cases that it chooses and the attorneys whom it hires to ensure that we can deliver top-quality representation and results to all of our clients. If we accept your case, you can rest assured that we will invest the proper amount of time, attention and resources necessary to obtain every penny of compensation to which you are entitled if you are injured. We employ lawyers from Top 20 nationally ranked law schools who are recognized for being at the top of their field by their peers year after year. Our success rate is more than 95% in all of our cases, including rear-end accident cases. For a free consultation and no-obligation investigation of your case by our attorneys, call us at (718) 354-8000 or contact us through our online form. We represent victims in the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan, and Nassau, Suffolk, and Westchester Counties.