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Can You File a Lawsuit for a Rear-End Accident?

Mar 11, 2024 | Auto Accidents

Rear-end collisions are some of the most common types of car accidents. Although many of these crashes occur at low speeds and cause little damage, a rear-end accident can result in severe injuries or even fatality depending on the force of impact. If you were seriously injured in a rear-end accident, you may be entitled to pursue a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault driver to recover the damages you suffered.        

How Do Rear-End Accidents Happen?

Typically, rear-end accidents occur due to the tailing driver’s negligence. For instance, they can be caused by following too closely or operating their vehicle recklessly. Rear-end collisions can also be caused by aggressive driving, drowsy driving, distraction, speeding, driving under the influence, and failure to obey traffic laws. They can also be caused by poor judgment, slow reaction time, and inadequately maintained roadways.

Rear-end accident injuries can be serious and require extensive medical treatment and time out of work. While most people associate rear-end crashes with soft tissue injuries, such as whiplash, they can also cause broken bones, paralysis, traumatic brain injury, and permanent disability, depending on how hard the vehicle was struck. A driver or passenger in the front vehicle may be jolted — and their head or another body part can come into contact with the dashboard, steering wheel, or an airbag.    

When Can You Pursue a Personal Injury Lawsuit for a Rear-End Accident?

Just because you were in a rear-end accident doesn’t automatically mean you can file a personal injury lawsuit. While you may be entitled to no-fault benefits to cover your medical costs and lost wages, you can only file a personal injury action if you satisfy the serious injury threshold under New York Insurance Law. Specifically, you may file a lawsuit for a rear-end accident if your basic economic losses exceed $50,000 or you have suffered what is defined under the statute as a “serious injury.” 

Under New York Insurance law, a serious injury can include any one of the following:

  • Dismemberment
  • Fracture
  • Substantial disfigurement
  • Permanent loss of a bodily member, organ, function, or system
  • Permanent consequential limitation of a body organ or member 
  • Significant limitation of a bodily function or system
  • Loss of a fetus
  • Death

You may also be able to file a lawsuit for your rear-end accident injuries if they prevented you from substantially engaging in your customary or usual daily activities for 90 days out of the first 180 days following the crash.

Liability for Rear-End Accidents

In addition to proving you have suffered a serious injury, you will also need to establish that another party should be held liable for them. Importantly, New York courts have held there is a presumption that the rear-ending motorist is at fault for a rear-end collision. This is because a driver has a duty to maintain a safe distance behind the vehicle in front of them in order to be able to stop safely. Although there are some exceptions to this rule, the rear driver will have to present sufficient evidence that their negligence did not cause the crash to rebut the presumption of liability.     

Apart from the rear driver, there may be other parties who could potentially be responsible for a rear-end collision, based on the circumstances. For example, a municipality might be held accountable if it had knowledge of a hazardous road condition and failed to make timely repairs. A car or part manufacturer might be to blame if a defect in the vehicle caused the crash.   

Contact an Experienced New York Personal Injury Attorney

If you were injured in a rear-end collision, it is crucial to have a knowledgeable attorney by your side who will strive to maximize your compensation. The Edelsteins, Faegenburg & Brown, LLP is an established New York personal injury law firm that has been fighting for the rights of accident victims since 1937. Frequently appearing on the top verdicts and settlement lists in New York, our firm is committed to achieving positive results on behalf of our clients. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.




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