Who Is At Fault In A Rear-end Collision? 

rear-end collision

If you’re a motorist in New York City and another driver hits you from behind, you could experience whiplash, among other injuries. Whiplash is a soft-tissue injury that typically occurs when the head and neck jerks violently back and forth in a collision, causing the muscles, tendons, and ligaments in the neck and shoulders to tear. Whiplash and other injuries could result in hefty medical bills and could prevent you from being able to do your job and earn a living.

In many states, the person who was at fault for the accident is responsible for compensating the injured party. But New York is a no-fault state, which means that your own insurance company will be required to cover the cost of your medical bills and other costs associated with the accident unless you are severely injured.

If you have been injured in a rear-end accident in New York, the knowledgeable rear-end collision attorneys at Finz & Finz can help you navigate the process of claiming the compensation that you need to recover financially after the accident.

What Is A Rear-end Accident?

A rear-end accident occurs when a vehicle collides with the vehicle in front of them. Rear-end collisions often happen when the motorist in the back doesn’t have enough time to slow down or stop before crashing into the vehicle in front of them.

There are a few common causes of rear-end accidents in New York:

Distracted driving – Distracted driving is one of the most frequent causes of car accidents in the US, and smartphones have made this issue worse. Some common types of distracted driving include: 

  • Texting
  • Talking on the phone
  • Talking with passengers
  • Adjusting the radio
  • Toying with a GPS
  • Holding a pet
  • Personal grooming
  • Daydreaming

Tailgating – Tailgating occurs when a driver follows another vehicle too closely. Tailgating is an extremely common cause of rear-end collisions. When a driver follows another vehicle too closely, they typically don’t have adequate time to stop if the vehicle in front suddenly decelerates or stops.

Inclement weather – Inclement weather, including rain and snow, can cause a vehicle to hydroplane, which can cause rear-end collisions. Fog also makes it more difficult for drivers to see what’s in front of them, and the lowered visibility also makes rear-end accidents more likely.

Who Is At Fault In A Rear-end Accident?

The driver in the back is generally considered to be at fault in most rear-end collisions. In most states, the at-fault driver is responsible for paying medical expenses to the driver they collided with. But New York is a no-fault state, which means that you will turn to your own insurance policy to provide coverage for any medical expenses caused by the car accident, regardless of who caused it.

Under New York’s no-fault coverage, your policy will typically pay:

  • Medical expenses related to the accident, up to $50,000. However, you can purchase additional coverage through PIP (personal injury protection), which can offer you more protection in the event that you sustain serious injuries.
  • Coverage of $2,000 per month for up to three years of lost income if you are unable to perform your job due to the accident.
  • Other costs related to the accident

Under New York state law, you have 30 days from the date of the accident to claim compensation.

Can I Sue The Other Driver For Damages? 

In New York, even if you were not at fault for the accident you will typically first turn to your own insurance provider for benefits. However, if the medical costs and other costs associated with the accident exceed your policy limits, then you could pursue legal action against the motorist who rear-ended you.

In order to do this, you need to be able to prove that you have reached a no-fault threshold. To reach this threshold in New York, you’ll need to be able to show that the financial losses resulting from the accident were greater than $50,000, the typical New York policy limit. You could also potentially pursue legal action if the accident caused serious injuries, as laid out under New York state law.

What Is “Serious Injury” Under New York State Law?

Under New York state insurance laws, “serious injury” refers to a personal injury that causes any of the following:

  • Wrongful death
  • Amputation
  • Disfigurement
  • Miscarriage
  • Fractures
  • Serious limitation of ability to utilize a bodily function or system
  • Permanent limitation of a bodily organ, member, function, or system
  • Loss of an organ, member, function, or system
  • An injury that prevents the injured party from doing normal activities for a minimum of 90 days within 180 days after the collision

If you meet the no-fault threshold, you can also pursue compensation for non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering. Pain and suffering include things like emotional trauma, mental anguish, and loss of enjoyment of life resulting from an accident. You can also separately pursue a wrongful death suit against the person who caused the collision if the rear-end accident caused the death of a family member or loved one.

How To File A Personal Injury Lawsuit

If you meet the no-fault threshold, then there are several steps you need to take to pursue compensation against the at-fault party. 

  • Consult with an attorney – Consulting with an attorney is extremely important, as navigating the legal process can be confusing and challenging. Having a seasoned attorney in your corner can help expedite the process and can increase your chances of getting the compensation you deserve. 
  • Prove fault – To file a successful personal injury lawsuit, you need to be able to prove that the other motorist failed in their duty of care to take reasonable steps to protect other motorists, show how the at-fault motorist’s negligence caused the accident, and demonstrate how the resulting accident led directly to your injuries. 
  • Collect evidence – Your attorney will compile medical records and bills, police reports, photo and video evidence from the scene, and other evidence to support your case. 
  • Solicit testimony – Your attorney will also seek out testimony from experts who may be able to support your case. 
  • Calculate losses – You and your attorney will add up the financial costs that the accident caused you. You’ll want to create an itemized list of costs so that you can be compensated accordingly. 
  • Submit a demand letter – Your attorney will draw up a demand letter as a way to present your damages to the at-fault party’s insurance provider. Your attorney may be able to negotiate a settlement with the insurance provider so that a lawsuit is not necessary. 
  • File a lawsuit – If a fair settlement cannot be reached, your attorney will file a personal injury lawsuit in court on your behalf. 

How A New York Car Accident Lawyer Can Help

If you’ve been injured in a rear-end accident, the New York City car accident lawyers at Finz & Finz, PC could help you seek the compensation you need and deserve. Contact us today at 855-TOP-FIRM for a 100% free consultation.

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Finz & Finz, P.C. is a New York and Long Island personal injury law firm based out of Mineola, NY. It was founded in 1984 and is highly rated, with many honors and awards of excellence.