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September 2020

How Do You Prove Liability for a Vehicle Accident?

By Personal Injury

A car accident can happen on a highway, or country road and can be a head on collision or you can be hit on the side from someone leaving a parking lot.  One of the most common types of collision is getting rear ended from behind.  Most of the time people think that rear-end car accidents are always the fault of the driver who rear ended the car in front but this is not always the case.

Negligence is the failure to use reasonable care, resulting in damage or injury to another.  You are considered negligent if your actions fall short of what a reasonable person would or would have not done under the circumstances that led to the accident.  To prove that one of the drivers were negligent in a car accident, you have to prove that a duty existed.  All drivers owe one another a duty to exercise care when they are behind the wheel of a motor vehicle.  You must prove the other driver breached their duty by:

  • Failing to pay attention to the road and look out for hazards
  • Failing to stop within a reasonable time
  • Failing to drive at a reasonable speed
  • Failing to maintain control of the vehicle
  • Failing to yield the right of way
  • Failing to use turn signals
  • Failing to follow at a safe distance

Third, you must prove the other driver’s breach of duty was the cause of the accident and you must establish that you were left with actual damages either to your body or the vehicle as a result of the accident.

The driver of the car that rear-ends another vehicle will almost always be considered at least partially negligent.  Every driver has a duty to follow other vehicles at a safe distance.  This is due to the driver sometimes suddenly slow down or come to quick stop to avoid a hazard in the road or heavy traffic.  You are expected to have enough distance between you and the car in front of you to prevent a collision in case an unexpected stop may occur.

It is possible for the driver of the car that gets rear-ended to be negligent as well if any of these scenarios happen to take place:

  • A driver reverses suddenly
  • A driver stoops suddenly to make a turn and fails to execute the turn
  • The driver’s brake lights do not function
  • A driver gets a flat tire but does not pull over or turn on the hazard lights

New York is a pure comparative fault state.  This means each defendant is only liable for his or her percentage of fault and allows a damaged party to recover even if it is 99% at fault.  Recovery is reduced by the damaged party’s degree of fault.  Accident victims can recover some compensation for their injuries no matter how negligent they were even if their degree of fault is higher than the defendant’s.

If you have recently been involved in a car accident and have been injured call the attorneys at Losi & Gangi at 716-854-1446 for a free consultation and review of your case.

Article adapted from: https://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/is-fault-automatic-rear-end-car-accident-case.html