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Why Do Rear-End Collisions Happen in New York City and Who’s to Blame?

Posted in Car Accidents on February 7, 2022

Why Do Rear-End Collisions Happen in New York City and Who's to Blame?

Rear-end collisions are one of the most common types of crashes in New York. About 30% of all crashes are rear-end collisions. These collisions cause about 30% of traffic-related injuries.

Surprisingly, these collisions only cause about 7% of car accident deaths. This means that a rear-end collision is much more likely to injure you than to kill you.

Here is some information regarding why rear-end accidents happen in New York City and who bears liability for them.

How Rear-End Collisions Happen

Rear-end collisions occur when a trailing vehicle hits the rear end of a leading vehicle. In the leading vehicle, the occupants lurch backward into the seat, then rebound forward. Since airbags are not designed to deploy in a rear-end collision, the occupants of the leading vehicle may strike the seatbelts, dashboard, or steering wheel as they whip forward.

The opposite happens in the trailing vehicle. Its occupants lurch forward into their seatbelts before being thrown back into their seats. The trailing vehicle’s airbags may deploy since they are designed for frontal impacts. As a result, the occupants in the trailing vehicle may avoid impact with the dashboard or steering wheel.

Situations Where Blame Falls on the Driver of the Trailing Car

In most situations, the driver of the trailing car bears the blame for rear-end collisions. The trailing driver must maintain a safe following distance to avoid a crash if the driver of the leading vehicle brakes unexpectedly.

Some common reasons to blame the driver of the trailing car for a rear-end accident include:


In January 2022, the NYPD attributed 520 crashes to “following too closely.” Tailgating was the third most common cause of collisions that month.

When you tailgate, you deprive yourself of the time to stop safely. Your braking distance includes your reaction time and your braking time. By following too closely, you could hit the car in front of you before you can even brake.

Distracted Driving

Distracted driving is the top cause of car crashes in New York City. In January 2022, the NYPD reported 1,916 crashes caused by distracted driving.

A distraction prevents you from reacting to the leading car’s brake lights. Even at a modest 35 miles per hour, your car travels approximately 100 feet during a two-second glance at your phone. As a result, you could rear-end a vehicle before you even realize you need to brake.

Aggressive Driving

Road rage and aggressive driving caused 51 accidents in January 2022. Intentionally bumping another vehicle from behind exposes you to liability for any injuries you cause. Road rage could also expose you to assault charges.

Situations Where Blame Falls on the Driver of the Leading Car

Occasionally, the driver of the rear-ended car bears the blame for a rear-end crash. All drivers must change lanes safely and signal when slowing, stopping, or turning.

Some common situations where the leading driver bears the blame include:

Faulty Equipment

Defective or broken brake lights could cause a rear-end collision. If the trailing driver does not know the leading driver’s intention, the trailing driver cannot maintain a safe distance if the leading car decelerates or stops.

Improper Lane Change

Cutting other drivers off deprives them of a safe following distance. For example, if someone has left a safe gap from the vehicle in front of them and you squeeze between them, you could trigger a rear-end collision.

Relevance of Blame

New York is a no-fault auto insurance state. In minor accidents, who’s at fault generally does not matter because each driver will seek compensation from their respective no-fault insurer.

However, New York allows you to escape the no-fault insurance limits when you suffer a serious injury.

When this happens, you can file an insurance claim or lawsuit against the at-fault driver for your unreimbursed losses. You will need to prove the driver was to blame for the rear-end collision to get compensation.

Contact Our Car Accident Law Firm in New York, NY

If you need legal assistance, contact the New York City car accident lawyers at Law Offices of Jay S. Knispel Personal Injury Lawyers at your nearest location to schedule a free consultation.

We have two convenient locations in New York:

Law Offices of Jay S. Knispel Personal Injury Lawyers – New York City Office
450 7th Ave #409
New York, NY 10123
(212) 564-2800

Law Offices of Jay S. Knispel Personal Injury Lawyers – Brooklyn Office
26 Court St Suite 2511
Brooklyn, NY 11242
(718) 802-1600

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