Rear-End Accident Fault in New York
Although it may seem straightforward, determining rear-end accident fault is not always so. In most cases, the motorist who hits the vehicle in front is liable for damages. However, it is not always a clear-cut scenario. In these cases, New York's comparative negligence laws may apply.
When is an accident the fault of the motorist in the rear?In most cases, rear-end accidents are the fault of the motorist who hits the vehicle in front. For example, if the motorist is driving at excessive speeds, or is distracted while driving, he is less likely to stop in time to avoid hitting the vehicle in front. Moreover, if the driver fails to brake in time, does not maintain control of the vehicle, fails to yield, or fails to maintain a safe distance between his car and the car in front of him, he is much more likely to be involved in a rear-end accident.
New York laws will hold the rear motorist liable for the accident, unless he can provide a valid explanation for why he was unable to avoid the accident.
Can the motorist whose car is hit be at fault?In some cases, a court can actually find the motorist driving in front at fault in an accident. For example, if you stopped suddenly making it difficult for the motorist to stop in time to avoid you or if you put your car in reverse making it impossible for the motorist to avoid hitting your car, the court could find you at least partially responsible for the accident. If your brake lights malfunctioned at the time, or if you had pulled over at the side of the road but had not engaged your hazard lights, a court may rule that the motorist who hit you could not possibly have prevented the accident.
What are New York's comparative negligence laws and how do they apply to a rear-end accident?If the court finds that you were partially negligent in causing a rear-end accident, it will apply New York's comparative negligence laws which states that if you were partially negligent, it may reduce your damages by the percentage of your liability. If you were 20 percent liable in causing the accident, the court will reduce the damages you receive by 20 percent.
Am I eligible for PIP benefits after a rear-end accident?Yes, Personal Injury Protection (PIP) benefits are available to individuals who are involved in any accident in New York. In fact, PIP is no-fault coverage which means that you are eligible for the damages, even if the rear-end accident was partially the result of your own negligence.
The law requires you to possess PIP coverage, and you use your own PIP coverage to recover certain benefits when you are in an accident. The benefits may cover damages including medical expenses, lost income, and increased household expenses. However, if you were under the influence at the time, or were engaged in a felony, the coverage may not apply to you.
If you were injured in a rear-end accident, discuss the types of insurance compensation that applies to you, and the damages that you can recover in a personal injury claim with a NY car accident lawyer.