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Rear-End Collisions in New York

Rear-end collisions are a common type of car accident that occurs on the roads of New York. These types of accidents can result in serious injuries and property damage, often leaving victims with significant physical, emotional, and financial challenges. New York Vehicle and Traffic Law section 1129 establishes clear guidelines for safe driving practices, including maintaining a safe following distance, avoiding distracted driving, and driving at safe speeds. When drivers fail to follow these rules, they can cause rear-end collisions that result in serious harm to others. If you have been injured in a rear-end collision caused by another driver's negligence, it is essential to seek the advice of an experienced New York car accident lawyer who can help you understand your legal options and pursue the compensation you deserve.

Common Causes of Rear-End Collisions in New York

Rear-end accidents in New York can be caused by a variety of factors. Some common causes include:

  • Tailgating: New York Vehicle and Traffic Law § 1129, drivers are prohibited from following another vehicle "more closely than is reasonable and prudent." When a driver follows another vehicle too closely, it can leave little time to react if the leading car suddenly stops or slows down, leading to a rear-end collision. Here’s an example. Michael Spada, a container truck driver, was rear-ended by Frank Blasso on December 20, 2019, on Veterans Memorial Highway. Spada alleged rib and shoulder injuries and sued Blasso and the truck owners, claiming negligence and vicarious liability. Spada's counsel argued Blasso was tailgating, violating NY Traffic Law § 1129(a). Summary judgment found the defendant liable. In January 2023, the parties settled for $925,000, paid by Liberty Mutual Insurance Co., acknowledging Blasso's tailgating as a factor. Michael A. Spada v. Frank G. Blasso, Mardee Excavating Inc. and MPG Excavating LLC, No. 601286/20
  • Distracted driving: Activities such as texting, eating, or adjusting the radio can divert a driver's attention from the road, increasing the risk of a rear-end collision. Note that § 1225-d of the Vehicle and Traffic Law prohibits the use of hand-held electronic devices while driving. While using an electronic device is often the basis for distracted driving accidents, taking the eyes off the road for any reason can result in an accident. In Daniel and Andrea Leonard v. Lisa Huff, No. 1759/10, Daniel Leonard was rear-ended by Lisa Huff in North Syracuse on June 5, 2009, sustaining a neck injury. Leonard alleged negligence on Huff's part, claiming she momentarily took her eyes off the road due to distraction. Leonard suffered from a bulging cervical disc, exacerbating pre-existing conditions. Leonard sought damages for past and future pain and suffering. In July 2011, the defense settled the claim for $50,000, acknowledging the accident's role in exacerbating pre-existing conditions.
  • Speeding: When a driver travels at a speed greater than the speed limit or too fast for current road and traffic conditions, they may not be able to stop in time to avoid a rear-end collision. In Tracy Brown v. Wilhelmina Blue, John Doe 1, Driver and John Doe 2, Owner, No. 159408/2018, Tracy Brown was rear-ended on Grand Central Parkway, by a speeding motorist, sustaining neck, back, shoulder, and knee injuries. Brown sued the driver negligence. The defense disputed causation, citing prior accidents and a lack of current evidence. The jury found in favor of the plaintiff.
  • Poor road conditions: Snow, ice, rain, and other adverse weather conditions can make the road slippery and increase the risk of a rear-end collision. Note that while in some cases snow or other poor road conditions may limit the liability of the following driver, the court will also consider whether the driver was traveling at a speed appropriate for the conditions.
  • Braking problems: Malfunctioning brakes or failing to maintain brakes can make it difficult for a driver to slow down or stop in time to avoid a collision.
New York Law on Rear-End Collisions

New York law on rear-end collisions is based on the concept of "following too closely," which is addressed in New York Vehicle and Traffic Law §1129(a). The law requires drivers to maintain a safe following distance behind the vehicle in front of them, considering the speed of the vehicles, the traffic, and the road conditions.

If a driver rear-ends another vehicle, it is presumed that the following driver was not maintaining a safe following distance, and therefore at fault for the accident. However, this presumption can be rebutted with evidence that the leading driver made an abrupt or unexpected stop, or engaged in some other form of negligent or reckless behavior.

Failure to maintain a safe following distance is a traffic violation that can result in fines and points on the driver's license. In addition, if a rear-end collision causes injury or property damage, the at-fault driver can be held liable for damages in a personal injury lawsuit. If you were injured in a rear-end collision, contact an experienced New York car accident lawyer who can help you pursue compensation for your injuries and other losses.

Compensation for Rear-End Collision Injuries

In New York, rear-end car accidents are unfortunately common and can result in various injuries for the victims involved. When someone is injured in a rear-end collision due to another driver's negligence, they may be entitled to compensation for their injuries and other losses.

Common Injuries. Rear-end car accidents can result in a wide range of injuries, ranging from minor to severe. Some common injuries including whiplash. Whiplash is one of the most common injuries in rear-end collisions. It occurs when the head and neck are suddenly forced backward and then forward, causing strain to the neck muscles and ligaments. For example in Steven Hunt Bibi Lancaster & Linda Hunt v. William V. Tomlinson & Maria Tomlinson, No. 43947/03, Steven Hunt and Bibi Lancaster were rear-ended by William Tomlinson on Linden Boulevard, Brooklyn. They sued Tomlinson and his wife, alleging negligence. Hunt and Lancaster claimed back and neck injuries, diagnosed as whiplash. Neurologist Taufiq Azamy testified their injuries were permanent. Hunt had prior injuries aggravated by the accident. The jury found defendants liable, awarding $450,000 total. Hunt received $75,000 for past pain and $125,000 for future suffering. Lancaster received $100,000 for past pain and $150,000 for future suffering.

Back injuries are also common, as are head and brain injuries. Concussions, traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), and other head injuries can occur if the head strikes the steering wheel, dashboard, or other objects inside the vehicle. Soft tissue injuries, such as bruises, cuts, and sprains, are common in rear-end collisions due to the sudden jolt of the impact. Furthermore, broken bones can occur in severe rear-end collisions, especially if the impact is significant.

Compensation Available. Victims of rear-end collisions in New York may be entitled to various types of compensation, including:

  • Medical Expenses: This includes compensation for past and future medical bills related to the treatment of injuries sustained in the accident. It covers expenses such as hospital stays, surgeries, doctor's visits, medication, rehabilitation, and therapy.
  • Lost Wages: If the injuries sustained in the accident prevent the victim from working, they may be entitled to compensation for lost wages. This includes both past and future lost earnings due to time taken off work for recovery or disability.
  • Pain and Suffering: Victims may be entitled to compensation for the physical pain and emotional suffering caused by their injuries. This includes compensation for both past and future pain and suffering, as well as any loss of enjoyment of life resulting from the accident.
  • Property Damage: Victims may also be entitled to compensation for the damage to their vehicle and any other property damaged in the accident.
  • Permanent Disability: In cases where the victim sustains permanent disabilities or impairments as a result of the accident, they may be entitled to compensation for the impact of these disabilities on their quality of life and ability to earn a living.

Navigating the complexities of compensation for rear-end car accident injuries in New York can be challenging, especially while dealing with the physical and emotional aftermath of the accident. Therefore, it's essential for victims to seek the guidance of an experienced car accident attorney in New York who can help you understand your rights, gather evidence, negotiate with insurance companies, and pursue the compensation you deserve.

Rear-End Collision Verdicts and Settlements
  • $9,750,000 awarded to victim in case involving a speeding drunken driver who caused a rear-end accident. On July 7, 2021 Christopher Francis, a tow truck driver, was rear-ended on westbound Interstate 495 in Smithtown. As a result of the collision, Francis' truck struck a guardrail, flipped over onto its roof, and Francis was ejected from the vehicle, rendering him unconscious. Francis sustained head, knee, and ankle injuries. He underwent multiple surgeries, including knee reconstructions and procedures to address arthrofibrosis and heterotopic ossification. He filed a lawsuit, alleging negligence in the operation of his vehicle. Plaintiff's counsel asserted that the defendant was traveling at approximately 130 miles per hour and had a blood alcohol content of 0.17 at the time of the crash. The defendant pleaded guilty to several felonies, including vehicular assault and driving while intoxicated. Plaintiff's motion for summary judgment of liability was granted, and the case proceeded to determine damages. The case concluded with a pretrial settlement, with defendant’s insurer agreeing to pay Francis $9.75 million.
  • $3,700,000 jury verdict award to plaintiff with wrist and spine injuries from rear-end accident. Juan Deas, a rideshare driver, was rear-ended while stopped at a red light in Brooklyn on Dec. 18, 2015. Deas sustained injuries to his back, neck, and left wrist as a result of the collision. Deas underwent extensive medical treatment, including physical therapy and a lumbar laminectomy with fusion at multiple levels. He claimed significant limitations in his daily activities and future earning capacity due to his injuries. He sued the driver who rear-ended him as well as the owner of the vehicle, alleging negligence in the operation of the vehicle. The defense argued that the accident was minor, citing low property damage and Deas' pre-existing health conditions. However, the jury found the defendants fully negligent and awarded Deas $3.7 million in damages. Deas was awarded compensation for past and future pain and suffering, reflecting the severity and long-term impact of his injuries. Juan Deas v. Vermont Car Limo, Inc., and Yoel Mieses-Placencio, No. 511792/2017
  • $2,000,000 jury verdict for injuries plaintiff suffered when her car was rear-ended by a truck. Estela Larrea, driving in the Bronx on Sept. 2, 2016, was rear-ended by John Prociw's sanitation truck, causing neck injuries. Larrea sued Prociw and Sanitation Salvage Corp., alleging negligence. Larrea suffered a C5-6 herniation and underwent a cervical fusion surgery. Larrea sought $2.3 million for past pain and suffering and $1.2 million for future suffering. Defense argued her injuries were pre-existing and minor due to the accident's mild impact, emphasizing she didn't complain of neck pain initially. The defense's neurology expert testified Larrea wasn't disabled and needed no further treatment. The jury found Larrea had significant and permanent limitations, awarding her $2 million for past pain but nothing for future suffering. Despite the absence of future damages, the award reflected acknowledgment of Larrea's past pain and limitations. Estela Larrea v. Sanitation Salvage Corp. and John Prociw, No. 300437/2017. October 05, 2023.
  • $9,000,000 settlement for victim who suffered serious injuries in rear-end car accident. A 64-year-old man was involved in a car accident on the Long Island Expressway. The victim was rear-ended by a vehicle and suffered brain injuries.
  • $6,500,000 settlement for passenger who suffered a spinal fracture and other injuries in rear-end car accident. The passenger was severely injured when a vehicle operated by defendant rear ended her car while attempting to pass it and make an illegal lane change. As a result, the car the victim was in was propelled into the opposite direction of traffic, where it was then struck head on by an oncoming vehicle. The accident occurred in Glen Cove, NY.
Contact Stephen Bilkis & Associates

Rear-end collisions are a frequent occurrence on New York's busy roads, and they can cause severe injuries and property damage. New York Vehicle and Traffic Law section 1129 establishes clear rules for safe driving to prevent rear-end collisions, including maintaining a safe following distance and avoiding distracted driving. If you have been involved in a rear-end collision, it is essential to consult with an experienced car accident attorney serving New York who can help you understand your legal options and protect your rights. Contact Stephen Bilkis & Associates today at 800.696.9529 to schedule a free, no obligation consultation regarding your car accident. We represent clients in the following locations: Nassau County, Queens, Manhattan, Long Island, Brooklyn, Suffolk County, Westchester County, Staten Island, and Bronx.

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