Our Experienced Car Accident Lawyers Explain Some Important Things You Need To Know If You Were Injured When Your Car Was Struck From Behind
Rear end car accidents make up over 30% of all car accidents, according to government data. These accidents usually happen when the vehicle behind is following too closely. Here are some important things you need to know if you were involved in this type of car accident.
How to Prove (and Win) a Rear End Car Accident
If your vehicle was struck from behind, you have a strong liability case. The law in New York requires drivers to keep a safe distance from cars directly ahead. In fact, the driver who runs into the back of another car is usually 100% at fault.
The Vehicle and Traffic Law of the State of New York provides, at section 1129(a), that “the driver of a motor vehicle shall not follow another vehicle more closely than is reasonable, having due regard for the speed of such vehicles and the traffic upon, and the condition of, the highway.” This section of the law requires drivers to keep a safe or “reasonable” distance behind vehicles ahead, so as to avoid an accident.
The amount of distance that a driver should keep between cars depends on many factors, including: speed; traffic conditions; roadway conditions and weather. For example, more space is necessary when cars are traveling at higher speeds, because greater distance is needed to bring a faster vehicle to a full stop.
When is a Driver Legally Responsible for Striking Another Vehicle From Behind?
In fact, where the Court finds that the accident was caused by the defendant following too closely, the Court can enter a judgment against the defendant as a matter of law, even before the case is heard by a jury. This is called summary judgment.
Once it has been established that the defendant struck the rear of a stopped vehicle, the defendant may attempt to offer a “non-negligent” explanation for the car accident to avoid summary judgment. At times, a defendant will claim that the vehicle ahead came to a “sudden stop”, and that the accident could not have been avoided. This can be a viable defense.
In fact, New York law prohibits sudden stops. Specifically, Vehicle and Traffic Law section 1163(c) provides that “No person shall stop or suddenly decrease the speed of a vehicle without first giving an appropriate signal . . . to the driver of any vehicle immediately to the rear when there is an opportunity to give such signal”.
If there is a genuine question of fact on this issue, then the Court will allow the jury to decide the case, rather than simply entering a judgment against the driver of the vehicle that rear-ended the other vehicle.
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If you were hurt because your car was struck from behind by a careless driver, contact our experienced car accident attorneys by email or by calling (800) 762-9300. You can also fill out one of our car accident case intake forms, and we will have one of our attorneys get right back to you.
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