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A Blocked Lane Change Doesn’t Allow a Rear Driver in New York to Escape Liability

In New York, blame for rear-end vehicle accidents operates under a specific set of rules. Generally, the rear driver is at fault for the accident because each driver has a legal obligation to operate his vehicle in a safe manner and to maintain a safe following distance behind the vehicle in front of his. If he has rear-ended the vehicle in front of him, it is typically true that, legally speaking, this was a result of the rear driver’s negligence in failing to maintain a safe following distance, and the front driver can potentially recover compensation for her injuries. To make sure you get the compensation that you legally deserve, retain the services of a skilled New York car accident attorney.

Bannelis’ case was an example of a rear-end accident in which there were no special circumstances, and the rear driver was responsible. Bannelis was driving in the Bronx when she was rear-ended, and the accident caused her to suffer injuries that prompted her to sue. While it is generally the case that a rear driver is legally liable for a rear-end crash, that is not always so. In some situations, there are valid non-negligent explanations for a rear-end accident. For example, if a vehicle traveling in open traffic on an expressway stops in the middle of that expressway and is rear-ended, the evidence may indicate that the front driver, rather than the rear one, was negligent for operating in an unsafe manner.

The Appellate Division upheld a trial judge’s decision to award Bannelis summary judgment in her favor, which meant that the defendant was declared legally liable, and that outcome was achieved without the injured woman having to undergo a full trial on the issue of liability.

The injured woman won because she had proof that she was rear-ended, and the rear driver did not have an adequate, non-negligent explanation for his driving. The rear driver asserted that Bannelis stopped abruptly. Generally, except for situations like the expressway example discussed above, this argument will not succeed. If, in ordinary street traffic, someone rear-ends you, even if you stopped abruptly, it is the rear driver’s fault because they are obliged to keep a safe following distance and obviously didn’t do so if they crashed into you.

Additionally, the rear driver asserted that he was not negligent because the accident occurred as a result of his inability to complete an intended lane change. This argument was not successful either. As the Appellate Division explained, the law says that, if you have to complete a lane change in order to escape rear-ending the vehicle in front of you, you are still negligent for failing to maintain a proper following distance. The fact that another vehicle blocked the lane change that the driver intended to execute was not relevant to the analysis of a rear-ending driver’s negligence.

If you have been injured in a rear-end collision, you need to make sure that you are presenting the evidence and the arguments you need to get the compensation you deserve. The diligent Queens car accident attorneys at Newman, Anzalone & Newman have been effectively representing injured people throughout the New York City area for many years. Talk to us and learn more about your options. Contact us toll-free at 877-754-3099 or through our website.

More Blog Posts:

Injured New York Driver and Passenger Win Case to Hold Town Dump Truck Driver Responsible for Rear-End Accident, New York Personal Injury Lawyers Blog, Feb. 8, 2018

Achieving a Successful Result in Your New York Rear-end Auto Accident Case, New York Personal Injury Lawyers Blog, Nov. 22, 2017

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