What Happens When A Car Hits You From Behind In New York
If you have been in a collision caused by someone hitting you from behind, you are not alone. Rear-end collisions are the most common type of car accident in New York City. They also are the most common cause of whiplash, a painful and potentially disabling neck, and back injury.
A New Yorker who has suffered whiplash or another injury while in a car that was struck from behind should be able to recover compensation for their medical bills, vehicle damage, and more. Because New York is a no-fault insurance state, accident victims must initially file claims against their own no-fault auto insurance or against the no-fault policy covering the car in which they were a passenger.
In cases of serious injury and more than $50,000 in medical bills, an accident victim may pursue an additional claim against the driver at fault.
After a rear-end accident, talk to an experienced New York car accident attorney about the steps you can take to pursue compensation. In Queens, NY, The Tadchiev Law Firm, P.C., can help pursue a lawsuit on your behalf if you have serious injuries and significant losses related to a rear-end collision caused by another motorist.
Contact The Tadchiev Law Firm today to set up a free consultation. We can review the details of the car accident you were in and discuss your legal options.
How Common are Rear-End Collisions?
A study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) says rear-end accidents are the most frequently occurring type of collision and cause a substantial number of injuries and fatalities each year. Rear-end collisions in which the lead vehicle is stopped or moving very slowly prior to the crash account for the majority of these crashes.
Nearly 2.2 million rear-end collisions occurred in the U.S. in 2019, according to NHTSA. That was 32.5% of all motor vehicle accidents reported. The second-most common collisions in 2019 were “angle” collisions, which occurred in 22% of all crashes reported.
NHTSA says 595,000 rear-end accidents made up 31.1% of car accidents resulting in injury in 2019.
Most Common Injuries When Involved In A Rear-End Collision
The most common injury caused by a rear-end collision is an over-extension of soft tissue in the neck and/or upper back known as whiplash. This painful injury occurs because of the rapid back-and-forth motion of the accident victim’s head when a car is hit from behind. The person’s neck bends and stretches beyond its normal range of motion as it first jerks backward and then snaps forward.
Symptoms of whiplash include:
- Neck pain and stiffness
- Tenderness in shoulders, upper back, or arms
- Loss of range of motion in the neck
While most people recover within a matter of weeks, others may have lasting pain and other long-term whiplash complications.
Other neck and back injuries commonly diagnosed after rear-end collisions include:
- Back Strains
- Back Sprains
- Slipped or Herniated Disc
- Spinal nerve damage
- Spinal Fractures, particularly in the lower or middle back
- Compression Fractures
If the spinal cord is damaged in a rear-end collision, paralysis may result.
Who Is At Fault In A Rear-End Collision
In most cases, it is assumed that the driver of a car that hits another vehicle in the rear is at fault for the accident. Traffic law addresses following too closely, a common cause of rear-end accidents. New York VTL § 1129(a) says “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 vehicles and the traffic upon and the condition of the highway.”
Drivers are expected to follow other vehicles at a safe distance because vehicles in traffic may suddenly and unexpectedly slow down or come to a stop for many reasons. A driver who fails to avoid a collision because they are following too closely or because they are speeding, distracted, or impaired by alcohol or drugs, may be held financially liable after a rear-end crash causing serious injuries.
There may be other contributing factors in rear-end collisions including:
- Faulty brake lights
- Backing into the rear car
- A driver abruptly changing lanes in front of a faster vehicle
- Stopping in the roadway due to mechanical failure or other reasons and not engaging hazard lights or another warning
In these cases, the driver of the front vehicle in a two-car rear-end collision may share a portion of the responsibility for the crash.
Filing a Car Accident Claim in New York
The State of New York requires car owners to maintain no-fault auto insurance coverage, which pays the policyholder after an accident regardless of who caused the crash.
The minimum no-fault insurance coverage a car owner must maintain in New York is $50,000. That amount can be used for medical bills, lost income, certain household expenses, and death benefits if someone is killed in a car accident.
In many cases, $50,000 is not enough insurance to cover all of an injured person’s costs from a serious rear-end accident. Once the full $50,000 in coverage has been used, the injured individual may have a right to sue the driver responsible for the rear-end accident to recover the losses that exceed their auto policy limit.
An accident victim may also sue another driver who caused them “serious injury” in a car accident. Section 5102(d) of New York insurance law describes conditions that meet the definition of “serious injury,” including:
- A bone fracture
- Loss of a fetus
- Significant disfigurement
- Permanent loss or significant limitation of use of a body organ, member, function, or system
- Disability for 90 days during the first 180 days following the accident.
An accident victim who has suffered a serious injury may file a claim against the at-fault driver’s auto liability insurance. If a reasonable settlement cannot be reached, the injured could also pursue a personal injury lawsuit seeking compensation for pain and suffering, as well as for medical expenses, income loss, and property damage.
Contact a Queens Car Accident Attorney
If you have been seriously injured in a rear-end car accident, contact a car accident lawyer at The Tadchiev Law Firm, P.C., today. We provide personalized attention and service to ensure that you recover the maximum compensation you are entitled to.
Call us today or reach out online for your free case review.