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According to research, an individual can be involved in as many as three car accidents throughout their lifetime. Given the alarming statistics, many individuals are curious about the most common types of car accidents. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), out of the 6 million car accidents annually, roughly 40% of them are rear-end collisions. Rear-end collisions occur when a driver does not have sufficient time to brake and collides with the back of the vehicle they are following. As common as rear-end collisions are, drivers often wonder who may be liable for this type of auto accident. Keep reading to learn who may be at fault for a rear-end collision and discover how a skilled New York City Car Accident Attorney can help you seek reasonable compensation for your damages. 

Who is liable for rear-end collisions?

While fault can vary depending on several factors, in most rear-end collisions, the tailing driver will usually be found at fault and is legally responsible for losses stemming from the accident. However, there are exceptions where the lead driver may be held liable. Nevertheless, drivers have a legal duty to keep a safe distance between themselves and the vehicle in front of them. They must abide by the rules of the road to keep everyone safe. If a motorist does not uphold their legal duty they will be found negligent and therefore liable for the accident. Drivers need to maintain a safe distance from the vehicle in front of them to have enough time to react to any potential road hazards. If a driver is tailing and engages in unsafe driving behaviors like texting while driving, speeding, or changing lanes recklessly, they are responsible for any resulting accidents. Ultimately, the driver that rear-ends another vehicle is usually liable for an accident if their negligence caused the accident.

When can you be held responsible for being rear-ended?

Following any auto accident, establishing fault can be challenging. However, it can be even more difficult to establish fault in a rear-end accident. If the lead driver’s negligence caused the accident, the driver who rear-ended the lead car is not liable for damages resulting from the accident. The lead driver can be found at fault in the following circumstances:

  • The lead driver is swerving unexpectedly into your lane.
  • The lead driver makes an improper turn that violates the right of way.
  • The lead driver fails to use their turn signal when turning.
  • The lead driver suddenly goes into reverse.
  • The lead driver’s brake lights are not functioning properly.
  • The lead driver suddenly hits the brakes with no valid reasoning (also known as brake checking).
  • The lead driver has a mechanical problem but fails to move to the side of the road.

If you have been injured in a rear-end collision, contact an experienced attorney at Swerling Law today. Our firm is prepared to work tirelessly to help you establish liability and recover the fair compensation you deserve.


To a man who was assaulted at a restaurant and sustained a traumatic brain injury.


Settlement to a barista who slipped and fell on a defective stairwell while working for Starbucks who sustained back injuries requiring multiple surgeries in 2012.


Settlement to a woman who was assaulted and sustained back/hip injuries in 2015.


To a man who sustained back injuries when he was a passenger in the car that rear ended another car.


Verdict to a high school student who was assaulted by a school dean during her lunch period dislocating her hip in 2014.

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