Who’s at Fault in a Rear End Collision in New York?

  • In New York, the following driver is presumed to be at fault in rear-end collisions. However, following drivers have the legal right to rebut that presumption if possible.
  • New York is a no-fault insurance state, meaning auto accident victims must first turn to their personal injury protection (PIP) coverage to secure compensation.
  • If they suffer a “serious injury” or “basic economic loss” exceeding $50,000, accident victims can file a personal injury claim or lawsuit against an at-fault driver to secure further compensation.

Rear end crashes are very common, often occurring due to texting and driving, drunk driving, speeding, failure to brake on time, poor brake maintenance, and other factors. But who’s at fault in a rear end collision? It’s a myth that the following driver is always the driver at fault. Though they often are responsible, determining fault always requires a close look at the facts of each case. 

That’s where the Queens car accident attorneys at Chopra & Nocerino step up to the plate. Our full-service personal injury law firm has the resources and experience to handle your rear end collision case from start to finish. Call (855) NYC-HURT or reach out online to learn about your legal rights and options in a free consultation.

Presumption of Fault in Rear End Collisions in New York

In New York City, 9.7 percent of all traffic collisions were rear end crashes in the fourth quarter of 2023. Folks often assume rear drivers are always at fault in these accidents. However, that is not always the case. 

General Rule: Rear Drivers Are To Blame

So, who is at fault when a driver is rear ended? In New York, tailgating is prohibited. Specifically, the governing statute provides as follows: 

“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.”

The law also presumes that the following driver in a rear end collision caused the accident. However, this is a “rebuttable presumption,” meaning rear end drivers have a legal right to disprove the presumption if possible. 

When Is a Rear End Collision Not Your Fault? Exceptions to the Presumption.

While many people assume the rear driver is always at fault, the reality is that the leading driver may be partially or completely at fault for a rear end crash. For instance, if a leading driver suddenly slams on their brakes to “brake check” the rear driver, they may be at fault. 

Other common reasons why the following driver may not be liable for a rear end car accident include mechanical issues in either vehicle and road defects that cause one of the drivers to lose control.

To knock your case out of the park, it’s imperative to have skilled legal advocacy and strong evidence on your side. Dash cams, photographs, and witness statements can make a significant difference in the outcome of your case. Our all-star legal team at Chopra & Nocerino can investigate your case and help build a strong car accident claim on your behalf.

New York's No-Fault System

In New York, all drivers are required to carry personal injury protection (PIP) insurance. According to the New York Department of Financial Services, this coverage pays for “economic losses . . . up to $50,000 per person, to the driver and all passengers injured in your car as well as any pedestrians injured by your car.” PIP coverage applies regardless of fault. 

New York’s no-fault insurance system is intended to provide efficient and timely compensation for injuries resulting from car accidents while minimizing the need for litigation. However, it’s essential for drivers to understand their coverage limits and exceptions within the system to ensure they have adequate protection in the event of an accident.

Proving Economic Loss and Serious Injury in a New York Rear End Car Accident Lawsuit

Again, the no-fault system is designed to ensure swift compensation without the need to file a lawsuit. However, there are two ways to step out of the no-fault insurance system in New York:

  • Sustain over $50,000 in “basic economic losses”
  • Sustain a “serious injury” 

If you satisfy either of these requirements, you can file a claim against the at-fault driver’s auto liability insurance, as well as a personal injury lawsuit. Minimum auto liability coverage amounts in New York are: 

  • $10,000 for property damage for a single accident
  • $25,000 for bodily injury for one person involved in an accident ($50,000 if they die)
  • $50,000 for bodily injury for two or more people in an accident ($100,000 if they die)
Serious InjuryBasic Economic Loss
  • Death
  • Dismemberment
  • Significant disfigurement
  • Fracture
  • Loss of a fetus
  • Permanent loss of use of a body organ, member, function, or system
  • Permanent consequential limitation of a body organ or member
  • Significant limitation of use of a body function or system
  • Medically determined injury or impairment of a non-permanent nature which prevents the injured person from performing substantially all of the material acts which constitute such person’s usual and customary daily activities for not less than 90 days during the 180 days immediately following the occurrence of the injury or impairment. 
  • All necessary expenses incurred for professional health services, including medical, hospital, surgical, nursing, dental, ambulance, x-ray, prescription drug and prosthetic, psychiatric, physical therapy, occupational therapy, and rehabilitation services.
  • Loss of earnings from work which the person would have performed had they not been injured.
  • All other reasonable and necessary expenses incurred, up to twenty-five dollars per day for not more than one year from the date of the accident causing the injury.


Do You Need Legal Representation for a Rear End Car Accident?

Strictly speaking, you are not required to secure legal representation. Practically speaking, however, having high-quality legal representation makes a huge difference when fighting for fair compensation. This is especially true if you were the following driver in a rear end accident, since you will be presumed to be at fault. 

At Chopra & Nocerino, we can help you by conducting a thorough, independent investigation of your accident⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠, analyzing the facts and evidence, evaluating all potentially liable parties, and negotiating a settlement on your behalf. If the at-fault driver and their insurers refuse to offer a fair settlement, we’re ready to step up to the plate and take your case to court. 

It's Time To Call Your Legal MVPs at Chopra & Nocerino

As the exclusive personal injury law firm of the New York Mets, Chopra & Nocerino is here to deliver the excellent legal representation you deserve regardless of which car you were driving in a rear end accident. Our attorneys have a history of securing high-value verdicts and settlements for our clients. You can count on us to fight for every penny you are entitled to by law.

Call (855) NYC-HURT or reach out online to schedule your free consultation. Para servir mejor a todos los miembros de nuestra comunidad, ofrecemos servicios en español.

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