Can you be successfully sued if you’re rear-ended by another?

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Can you be successfully sued if you’re rear-ended by another?

Three car scenario, I stopped to avoid a car entering my lane from the Belt who failed to yield, I was struck from behind and then the car that struck me was also rear-ended. Can I be successfully sued and why?

Asked on October 22, 2010 under Accident Law, New York

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

Whomever is negligent--or unreasonably careless--in a collision can be sued for damages or injuries he or she causes. Normally, there is strong, though rebuttable, presumption that the car in back was at fault, since he or she should have maintained a safe following distance, paid attention, not traveled too fast, etc. However, it is possible to show that the front car was at fact at fault. One example would be if the front car braked suddenly, without warning, for no good reason, so there was no way for the following driver to anticipate a sudden stop; similarly, if the front driver braked completely on a highway when merely slowing would have sufficed, that might show negligence or carelessless; or if the front car's brake lights weren't working, depriving the rear driver of that warning; etc. So it depends on the circumstances; usually, it will be the rear driver who was careless, but there are situations in which it may be the front driver who was negligent.


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