Tailgating Car Accidents: Who Is at Fault in New York?


Image of Sameera Chopra and Alex Nocerino together

Written by:
Partners, Sameer Chopra and Alex Nocerino


Tailgating happens when one vehicle follows another too closely, failing to leave a safe distance. This risky behavior can lead to rear end collisions. If the front vehicle suddenly slows down or suddenly stops, the tailgating driver may not react in time to avoid a crash. 

If you were injured in a rear-end accident in New York, you are likely wondering, “Who is at fault in a tailgating accident?” Establishing liability in these cases involves gathering sufficient evidence to pinpoint who caused the crash and how.

The legal team at Chopra & Nocerino understands the emotional and financial hardships that can result from an accident with a tailgating driver. Our car accident lawyers are prepared to advocate vigorously for the justice and accountability you deserve. To schedule your free consultation, call (855) NYC-HURT or reach out online. Ofrecemos servicios en español.

New York’s Laws About Tailgating (Following Too Closely)

New York drivers are required to maintain a “reasonable and prudent” distance based on factors such as road conditions, speed of the vehicles, type of vehicle, and state of traffic. To create a good “space cushion,” the New York Department of Motor Vehicles advises using the two-second rule

In scenarios involving large trucks or bad weather, increase the distance to three or four seconds for additional safety. Depending on your driving history and whether you cause an accident, penalties for violating tailgating laws may include a fine, marks on your driving record, license suspension, and even jail time.

Negligence and Tailgating Accidents

Negligence occurs when someone fails to take reasonable care to avoid harming others. Proving the defendant’s negligence requires establishing the following elements:

  • Duty of care – All drivers owe other road users a duty of care to drive safely and avoid causing harm. 
  • Breach of duty of care – The at-fault driver failed to uphold their duty of care.
  • Causation – The defendant’s breach caused the accident. 
  • Damages – You suffered compensable damages as a result of the accident.

Tailgaters act negligently when they follow too closely because they endanger the lives of other road users and violate tailgating laws in New York. You can sue a negligent tailgater who causes an accident and receive compensation for the tangible and intangible ways the collision affected you and your loved ones.  

Determining Fault in Tailgating Accidents

The process of determining fault for tailgating accidents begins with identifying the negligent party so you can file a claim with their insurance company. While the tailgater is often at fault in these scenarios, other parties may also be liable, such as a car parts manufacturer or even the at-fault driver’s employer. 

One tactic defendants and their insurers use to deny the value of your claim is to accuse you of partial responsibility for the accident. New York’s comparative negligence rule allows injury victims to recover compensation even if they contributed to a crash, but their compensable damages will be reduced in proportion to their degree of fault. 

To combat this tactic, your attorney will collect and prepare evidence, including witness statements, traffic camera footage, and vehicle damage reports. Obtaining a police report and traffic citations, as well as consulting accident reconstruction experts, can also strengthen your tailgating claim.

How Fault Affects Compensation and Damages for Tailgating Accident Claims in New York

The amount of compensation you can receive for a tailgating accident in New York depends on the specific circumstances of your case, especially the severity of your injuries and whether you may have been partially responsible. 

Since New York is a no-fault state, you must first file a no-fault PIP claim with your own insurer before pursuing compensation from the negligent party. You can sue the at-fault party if your basic economic damages exceed $50,000 or you suffer a serious injury. Typically, liability insurance and court judgments will compensate you for:

  • Economic damages – These include monetary expenses incurred from the tailgating crash, such as medical bills, property damage, lost wages, and lowered earning capacity.
  • Non-economic damages – These reflect your subjective losses, such as physical pain, suffering, loss of enjoyment of activities, and mental anguish.

As for-profit businesses, insurers have an interest in diminishing the amount they pay out to injury victims. If the insurer handling your claim is unwilling to settle fairly, you can file a lawsuit and resolve your case in court. 

Our skilled legal team is not afraid to stand up to unscrupulous insurance companies. We will not back down until you receive full and fair compensation, even if it means going to court.

Examples of Tailgating Accident Settlements

Our car accident attorneys have secured millions of dollars in high-value settlements and verdicts, including in tailgating accident cases. For example: 

  • $1.921 million for a 72-year-old whose spinal cord injuries were aggravated in a rear-end collision.
  • $1.44 million for a 27-year-old who was rear-ended by a commercial vehicle in Suffolk County.

How a New York Auto Accident Lawyer Can Help

When recovering from the physical and psychological impact of a tailgating car accident, the last thing you want to handle on your own is a lawsuit. Though many cases are resolved quickly, others can take months or even a year to settle. 

While you focus on your health, you can count on us to handle your case from start to finish. We are here to support you throughout the entire litigation process, including by:

  • Offering a free consultation to answer your questions and advise you on the best way forward.
  • Conducting a comprehensive investigation to establish the cause of the accident and the liable parties.
  • Collecting and preparing evidence so we can build a solid claim.
  • Consulting expert witnesses, accident reconstruction experts, and eyewitnesses to gather more proof of your damages.
  • Handling all communication with insurance companies so you can focus on what’s important: your health and well-being.
  • Filing a lawsuit and other documents before deadlines to protect your right to compensation.
  • Countering arguments from the defense that try to pin the blame on you.
  • Negotiating with insurers and presenting evidence to prove your damages and justify the compensation you seek.
  • Representing you in court if the insurance company is unwilling to settle for the full and fair compensation you deserve. 

Level the Playing Field by Contacting Chopra & Nocerino After a Tailgating Accident

In the big leagues of car accident cases, having a lawyer who has successfully handled and won tailgating accident claims is extremely valuable for your case. Chopra & Nocerino is a nationally recognized personal injury law firm with deep roots in New York. As the exclusive personal injury lawyers for the New York Mets, we have what it takes to knock it out of the park.

Do not wait to take legal action. If you or a loved one was involved in a tailgating accident, our skilled car accident attorneys can investigate your case, file a claim on your behalf, and protect your interests in settlement negotiations and court. 

Schedule a free consultation by calling (855) NYC-HURT or filling out our online contact form. Para servir mejor a todos los miembros de nuestra comunidad, ofrecemos servicios en español.




Image of a red baseball threads



Scroll to Top
Chopra & Nocerino background showing founders at sports field with logo overlay

Time is ticking on your NY injury claim


Baseball Thread Border