It takes a certain amount of time and space for a driver to brake and fully stop in order to avoid colliding with the vehicle in front of him. When the driver in front needs to brake suddenly, it’s possible that a rear-ending will result, and sometimes a chain accident occurs. The injuries arising out of a rear-ending or chain accident can be devastating, particularly if the vehicles are traveling at high speeds. If you have been injured in a tailgating collision, the experienced Syracuse car accident attorneys of DeFrancisco & Falgiatano may be able to help you assert your legal rights.Tailgating Accidents
Under New York Vehicle and Traffic Law section 1129, drivers must leave sufficient space between their vehicles and the vehicles right in front of them so that another car can safely move into that space. If there’s not enough space, the tailgating driver could be cited.
New York is a no-fault state. That means if the tailgating is at low speeds and the injuries are soft tissue injuries, you will likely need to turn to your own no-fault insurance after an accident. You won’t be able to recover noneconomic damages. However, if you meet the threshold of serious injuries that would allow you to reach beyond the no-fault system, you will likely need to prove negligence in civil court. In a lawsuit brought under a theory of negligence, you’ll need to show: (1) duty of reasonable care, (2) breach of the duty of care, (3) causation, and (4) damages. Usually, following too closely in violation of section 1129 such that the tailgater hits the vehicle in front will be considered a breach of the duty to use reasonable care while driving.
A tailgater may receive a ticket for tailgating, and yet still try to point out ways in which you were at fault for a collision to avoid full responsibility. New York follows the doctrine of comparative negligence. When comparative negligence is alleged, the jury will evaluate the facts and arguments of both sides and determine the plaintiff’s damages, and also assign a percentage of fault to both parties.
Under the comparative negligence rule, your damages as a plaintiff will be reduced by an amount proportionate to your percentage of fault. For example, if your total damages are $100,000, and the jury assigns the tailgater 80% of the fault and you have 20% of the fault because you had one taillight not working, you can only recover $80,000 from the tailgater. In that case, you will be responsible for $20,000 of the damages yourself.
Sometimes tailgating results in a multi-vehicle accident, whereby the force from the initial tailgater’s collision with the car in front propels the tailgater’s car into the car in front of him, and propels that car into another car in front or to the side. Where there are multiple accident victims making claims against the tailgater’s insurance, it’s important to examine the accident closely to determine whether other factors have contributed to the accident. A knowledgeable injury lawyer can help you navigate this process.Damages
You may be able to recover compensatory damages for a tailgating accident. These damages may include economic and noneconomic losses. Economic losses are concrete damages like medical costs, lost income, out-of-pocket costs, and changes to your home. Noneconomic damages may include mental anguish, pain and suffering, and lost earning capacity. Punitive damages are rarely awarded in a car accident case; they’re awarded to deter and punish, rather than compensate. However, if a driver was tailgating due to intoxication or his behavior was otherwise reckless, it may be possible to ask for and receive punitive damages.Consult an Experienced Car Accident Attorney in Syracuse
Tailgating can be distressing and threatening for the driver in the car ahead of the tailgating driver. It may be possible to shift lanes to avoid aggressive driving, but there are also situations in which it’s not safe to move out of the lane. After a tailgating accident, you may be dealing with serious injuries, and you can consult a seasoned trial lawyer to determine your options. DeFrancisco & Falgiatano represents accident victims in Syracuse, Rochester, and across Upstate New York, including in areas such as Ithaca, Binghamton, Cooperstown, Auburn, Lyons, Elmira, Canandaigua, Wampsville, Utica, Oneida, Oswego, Herkimer, Watertown, and Lowville. Call our firm at 315-479-9000 or contact us via our online form.