Although they may sound minor, rear-end collisions can result in serious injuries, particularly if the cars involved are traveling at high speeds. The injuries can include head trauma, broken bones, spinal cord injuries, and serious burns. If you were seriously injured in a rear-end collision, you should retain an experienced Syracuse car accident attorney. At DeFrancisco & Falgiatano, our knowledgeable lawyers may be able to help you recover damages from the responsible party.Claims Based on Rear-End Collisions
Rear-end collisions occur when one car collides with the car in front of it. You may be able to recover damages if you can show that negligence by another driver caused the rear-end collision. You will need to show that the other driver owed you a duty of care, the other driver breached this duty, causation, and actual damages.
In New York, it will be presumed that a driver who rear-ends a stopped car is responsible for what happened. For example, if you are stopped in a line of traffic, and the car behind you rear-ends you, it will be presumed that the rear-end collision is the other driver's fault. However, the driver of the rear car may be able to provide an explanation for hitting the stopped car that removes liability. For example, if a truck hit the driver of the rear car, and he spun out and hit the back of your car, it is the driver of the truck who may be responsible for the rear-end collision.
Sometimes the driver to the rear claims that the car that he hit stopped suddenly and without warning. In most cases, that will not be a sufficient excuse because all drivers are responsible for maintaining a safe distance from other vehicles. However, it could be an appropriate defense if you had not repaired your brake lights, and the other driver truly did not have any warning for your sudden stop.
A defendant may allege that you were also negligent, particularly in situations in which liability is not clear, such as when the cars are still moving at the time of the rear-end collision. In that case, the jury will look at all of the evidence and arguments that both parties and their attorneys present, decide what the damages are, and assign each party a percentage of fault. Your damages are reduced by an amount equal to your percentage of fault. For example, if you are 50% responsible, the other driver is 50% responsible, and the damages are $300,000, you should be able to recover $150,000 from the other driver.
Sometimes, if there is a presumption that there was no negligence by the driver of the stopped car, a motion for summary judgment will be made. In that case, the defendant will need to submit evidence to defeat the motion. In one case, the plaintiff was rear-ended by a bus while waiting at a red light. The bus driver claimed that the light was green but that someone directing traffic abruptly stopped the plaintiff's car due to an ambulance approaching. The bus driver hit the brakes immediately but tapped the other car. The plaintiff moved for summary judgment, and the court reasoned that the plaintiff had shown a prima facie case against the bus driver. The defendant argued that the person directing traffic had unexpectedly stopped the vehicle. The court found that a sudden stop by itself was not enough to overcome a presumption of negligence.
The damages that may be recovered as a result of serious injuries sustained in a rear-end collision caused by a distracted or otherwise careless driver can include economic and noneconomic losses, such as medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, mental anguish, replacement services, and loss of enjoyment of life.Hire a Skillful Motor Vehicle Collision Attorney in the Syracuse Area
If you were injured in a rear-end collision caused by another driver, our law firm may be able to help you obtain compensatory damages from the responsible parties. DeFrancisco & Falgiatano represents car accident victims in Syracuse, Rochester, Binghamton, Auburn, Elmira, Norwich, Cortland, Delhi, Herkimer, Watertown, Lowville, Oneida, Wampsville, Utica, Canandaigua, Oswego, Cooperstown, Ithaca, and Lyons. Call us at 315-479-9000 or contact us via our online form for an appointment with an injury attorney.