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I’ve Been Hurt in a Chain-Reaction Accident in New York; What Should I Do Now?

Sometimes, your auto accident case may seem straightforward. “I was stopped and the other driver hit me from behind” is an example. Other times, the facts of your circumstance may be complex and multi-faceted. One recent example was a chain reaction accident in which the lead driver was hurt in the crash and then injured again when another driver struck him while he was on foot. Even the seemingly simple cases, though, can turn out to be complicated in actuality. If you have been hurt in an accident like that, you should ensure that you are prepared for whatever your case throws at you by having a skilled New York auto accident attorney representing you from the start.

The Appellate Division recently rendered a ruling in the chain reaction case in which the plaintiff was injured twice. The accident, which took place in 2013, was a real-life “series of unfortunate events.” Jonathan G. was stopped while waiting for a break in traffic in order to make a left turn. Jonathan N. and Brian were properly stopped behind the lead vehicle. Mary Beth, however, did not stop. She crashed into Brian, whose vehicle slammed into Jonathan N., who, in turn, crashed into Jonathan G. This collision caused Jonathan G. to suffer some harm.

The lead driver, however, was well enough to drive his vehicle onto an intersecting road. He then parked and returned to the accident scene to assist the other drivers and to exchange insurance information. On the way, though, 85-year-old Mary struck Jonathan G., causing him to suffer serious injuries.

Obviously, Jonathan’s legal case has a lot going on. The first accident involved four drivers, of which Jonathan was one. The second accident involved Jonathan as a pedestrian. Thus, if you were in an accident like Jonathan’s, who would be liable to you? Whom should you sue and whom should you bypass? The answer to questions like this can be an extremely important part of the decision-making that goes into pursuing your case successfully and efficiently.

In Jonathan’s case, the Appellate Division concluded that he could proceed against Mary Beth and Mary. The law in this state says that the “rearmost driver in a chain-reaction collision bears a presumption of responsibility.” Thus, the law presumes that Mary Beth was responsible for this accident. She could have avoided legal liability if she could have presented some non-negligent explanation for her crashing into the car in front of her, but she did not have that proof. (Mary Beth, according to the court, essentially admitted responsibility for crashing into the vehicle in front of her.)

Mary Beth could not be liable for the injuries Jonathan G. suffered in the second accident, though. Her causing the chain-reaction accident that initially affected Jonathan G. only served to create the conditions that made it possible for Mary to hit and injure Jonathan. That doesn’t make Mary Beth liable for the second accident. Jonathan can obtain an award of damages for all of his harm, but his case will involve demonstrating the damages separately caused by each of Mary Beth and Mary.

Jonathan G. could not pursue Jonathan N. or Brian. The appeals court clearly stated that, under New York law, when it comes to multi-car chain-reaction accidents, “the operator of a vehicle which has come to a complete stop and is propelled into the vehicle in front of it as a result of being struck from behind is not negligent.” That is what happened to these two drivers because Mary Beth hit Brian from behind and Brian hit Jonathan N. from behind.

The facts of Jonathan’s rear-end collision case were unique, but many cases are unique in one way or another. Getting full and fair compensation involves suing the right defendants and then having the right type and right amount of evidence against each defendant to get the recovery you deserve. In other words, it involves the skill of an experienced injury attorney. The diligent Queens injury attorneys at Newman, Anzalone & Newman have been zealously and effectively representing injured people throughout the New York City area for many years. If you have been hurt in a vehicle crash, talk to us. Contact us toll-free at 877-754-3099 or through our website.

More Blog Posts:

New York Woman Injured in Chain-Reaction Crash Successfully Keeps Out Defendant’s Expert Witness Due to ‘Speculative’ Testimony, New York Personal Injury Lawyers Blog, Dec. 14, 2017

Driver Injured in Upstate New York Crash Allowed to Pursue Multiple Other Drivers for Her Injuries, New York Personal Injury Lawyers Blog, May 15, 2017

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