I Had a Rear-End Accident. Another Driver Rear-Ended Me, and Then Told the Police I Stopped Short. Am I Responsible?

Monday, October 7th, 2013

The experienced car accident attorneys at Block O’Toole & Murphy listen to accident victims share their concerns every day. Car accident victims often wonder who is legally responsible for an accident. Frequently the rear-end collision is a source of confusion for New York City drivers. The experienced car accident attorneys separate myth from reality.

As we all know, there are two sides to every story. This certainly holds true for motor vehicle accidents. When it comes to car accidents, most people don’t want to admit that it was their fault. It is generally the perception among the public that if you are rear-ended, the vehicle who struck the vehicle in the rear is at fault. However, some rear-ending drivers will attempt to avoid responsibility by claiming that the vehicle in front of them stopped short or made a sudden stop. Sometimes it is true, occasionally it isn’t. But does it matter legally?

It is a violation of the New York State Vehicle and Traffic Law to operate a motor vehicle and follow too closely to the vehicle in front of you. Therefore, normally if a vehicle rear-ended another vehicle, the vehicle doing the rear ending is generally responsible for the accident because they were following the front vehicle too closely without allowing enough room to stop before colliding with a vehicle in front. If this scenario occurs where you are rear-ended and the police are called to the scene and the driver of the vehicle who struck you claims that you “stopped short”, this does not mean that you are going to be found either fully or even partially at fault for the accident.

Generally, if a vehicle stops short it is due to some sort of an emergency situation which was not created by the vehicle that made the sudden stop. Conventional wisdom tells us that you should leave one car length for every 10 mph you are traveling behind someone as it should allow you to have time to stop if the vehicle in front of you makes a sudden or unexpected stop. Under the law, generally a “sudden stop” defense does not absolve the rear-ending vehicle of liability. This is because even if you are forced to stop short or make a sudden stop, the vehicle behind you, if driving at a safe distance, should still have time to stop before striking the rear of your vehicle. Therefore, even if a driver who rear-ended you tries to defend himself/herself by saying you stopped short, the likelihood is he/she will still be to blame for the accident.

When you have been involved in a rear-end car crash, serious injuries can result. It is important to have a experienced and talented attorney fighting for your rights early on. The experienced car accident Lawyers at Block O’Toole & Murphy have a long and proud tradition of protecting victims, including more than $700,000,000 in verdicts and settlements. They have successfully represented many rear-end victims and have spent decades battling large corporations and insurance companies on behalf of injured victims. To learn more about these experienced lawyers, see the firm website at blockotoole.com. You can speak with an experienced car collision attorney now at 212-736-5300.

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