Who is at Fault if my Car was Hit in the Rear

car-accidentRear end accidents are one of the most common type of car accidents in Suffolk County. The most common cause for this type of accident is driver inattention.

The Law Office of Carl Maltese has handled thousands of these type of car accidents in the last fifty years. Most of them are litigated in Suffolk County Supreme Court. The Suffolk County Supreme Court has consistently found the driver that struck the rear of the other vehicle to be at fault for the happening of the accident.

New York State Law Prohibits following too closely

The New York State Vehicle and Traffic Law provides certain “Rules of the Road” governing the manner in which vehicles must be operated in the State of New York. Section 1180(a) of the Vehicle and Traffic Law Provides that:

“No person shall drive a motor vehicle at a speed greater than is reasonable and prudent under the conditions and having regard to the actual and potential hazards then existing.”

In addition, Section 1129(a) of the Vehicle and Traffic Law further provides that:

“The driver of a motor vehicle shall not follow another vehicle more closely than is reasonable and prudent, having due regard for the speed of such a vehicle and the traffic upon and the condition of the highway.”

Unless the operator of the rear vehicle in a rear-end collision has a valid excuse for striking the car ahead, a violation of the Vehicle and Traffic Law of the State of New York §1129(a) establishes the rear driver’s liability.

Obligation to drive safely in New York

New York State Supreme Court has stated that a driver has a duty to maintain a safe distance between their vehicle and the vehicle in front of them and failing to do so constitutes negligence. The New York Appellate Division has stated that “When the driver of an automobile approaches another automobile from the rear, he or she is bound to maintain a reasonably safe rate of speed and control over his vehicle, and to exercise reasonable care to avoid colliding with the other vehicle” Gallo v Jairath, 122 AD3d 735 (2nd Dept 2014), Comas-Bourne v City of New York, 146 AD3d 855 (2nd Dept 2017).

Excuses for hitting a car in the rear

When it comes to excuses the appeals court that controls Suffolk County Supreme Court has stated:

“ … a rear-end collision with a stopped or stopping vehicle establishes a prima facie case of negligence on the part of the operator of the rear vehicle, requiring that operator of rear vehicle to come forward with evidence of a non-negligent explanation for the collision in order to rebut the inference of negligence” Bene v Dalessio 135 AD3d 679 (2nd Dept 2016).

Some excuses for hitting another car in the rear often claimed are that the front vehicle stopped short, they skidded on wet pavement or mechanical failure.

The Courts have repeatedly held that a claim by the offending vehicle that the vehicle ahead stopped abruptly is an insufficient excuse for the happening of the accident. Campanella v Moore, 266 A.D.2d 431 (2nd Dept. 199); Escobar v Rodriquez, 243 A.D.2d 676 (2nd Dept 1997).

The Appellate Division stated that “vehicle stops which are foreseeable under the prevailing traffic conditions, even if sudden and frequent, must be anticipated by the driver who follows, since he or she is under a duty to maintain a safe distance between his or her car and the car ahead” Shamah v Richmond County Ambulance Serv., 279 A.D.2d 564, 565, (2nd Dept. 2001).

Some drivers will claim that the accident occurred because the brakes on their car failed. This excuse is rarely successful. The driver must show that the brake failure was unanticipated and that they used reasonable care to keep the brakes in good working order.

In one case an inattentive driver explained that she applied her brakes but that her car was unable to stop because of icy road conditions. The court decided that this excuse was insufficient.

In another accident the road was wet from a recent rain shower. The careless driver’s car skidded and struck another car in the rear. The court found that he was still responsible for the accident.

In a similar situation an irresponsible driver stated that he caused the accident because his car skidded on the metal grating of the Kisciuszko Bridge. The court stated that his excuse was insufficient and that the accident was his fault.

The Law Office of Carl Maltese has successfully represented thousands of car accident victims that were hit in the rear. We are fully familiar with the law and know how to win these cases in Suffolk Supreme Court.

If you have been hurt in a car accident in which your vehicle was rear-ended, contact the Law Office of Carl Maltese at (631) 543-8811 for a free consultation. At your free consultation we will be happy to answer any and all questions about your car accident and what person is at fault.

If you have any questions, please ask below!