In 1975, the State of New York instituted “Comparative Negligence” in the state’s motor vehicle accident law. Comparative Negligence means that an accident victim could still recover monetary damages from the at-fault driver even if they are found to be partially at fault for the motor vehicle accident. The percentage of fault that is attributed to the accident victim will be the percentage of monetary damages deducted from the final damage award.
In some places, if there is a rear-end collision, the driver who rear-ended the car in front of them is automatically at fault. In New York, there is no automatic assignment of blame upon the occurrence of a rear-end accident. While the driver of a car which collides with the car in front of it is often found to be at fault, New York law recognizes that there are scenarios in which the driver in the front car had more to do with causing the accident than the driver in the rear car did.
If you are a driver, you may have experienced one or more situations in which you were following the car in front of you at an appropriate distance, when something happened that caused you to nearly bump into it. Perhaps you were driving on a highway, and a vehicle in the lane next to you switched into your lane abruptly, and then slowed down quickly. You may have been driving a safe distance behind the car in front of you, only to have to swerve to avoid hitting it after the driver slammed on the brakes to avoid a squirrel or some other animal in the road. It may have been some other scenario entirely, but it is most likely not that hard for you to imagine how you could rear-end the car in front of you through no fault of your own.
Fortunately, since New York is a comparative negligence state, a driver will not be found at fault for a rear-end accident unless they were negligent. It is important that drivers understand that all of the fault for an automobile accident does not have to be assigned to one driver, unless the other driver or drivers who were involved in the accident were not at all negligent. Fault is apportioned according to who appears to have caused which percentage of the damages. A complicating factor involving recovering for damages in New York rear-end accidents is that drivers who are fifty percent or more at fault for an accident may not recover for the damages that they have suffered. Drivers who are less than fifty percent negligent may only recover for the percentage of the damages that they did not cause.
Since many rear-end accidents do end up with fault being assigned to the driver who does the rear-ending, it is important that motorists understand the causes of rear-end collisions. Failing to maintain an appropriate distance between your car and the car in front of you is often referred to by law enforcement officers as “failure to control speed”, and it is a leading cause of rear-end accidents. Drunk driving is another common cause of rear-end collisions. Driving while distracted by your cell phone, while talking or texting, is a third leading cause of rear-end crashes.
If you have been injured in an automobile accident, it is important that you speak with an attorney right away. The attorneys at Parker Waichman LLP devote a significant portion of their practice to helping injured victims recover from the physical and emotional injuries that they have suffered as the result of an auto accident. We pride ourselves on helping our clients pursue the results that they deserve. If you would like to discuss your potential auto accident case with our office, contact us today at 1-800-YOU-LAWYER (1-800-968-7529).
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