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Legal Memorandum: Negligence in a Rear End Collision in NY

Issue: What factors are to be considered when attempting to meet the standard for negligence in a rear end collision in New York?

Area of Law: Litigation & Procedure, Personal Injury & Negligence
Keywords: Negligence; Rear end collision
Jurisdiction: New York
Cited Cases: 872 N.Y.S.2d 186; 724 N.Y.S.2d 49; 810 N.Y.S.2d 125; 641 N.Y.S.2d 317; 726 N.Y.S.2d 510; 878 N.Y.S.2d 46; 786 N.Y.S.2d 490; 77 N.Y.2d 322; 797 N.Y.S.2d 467; 707 N.Y.S.2d 571; 486 N.Y.S.2d 357; 861 N.Y.S.2d 610
Cited Statutes: CPLR § 1411
Date: 05/01/2010

First, a presumption of negligence applies against a rear driver only when the front vehicle was “stopped or stopping” when struck by the rear driver.  See, e.g., Tutrani v. County of Suffolk, 10 N.Y.3d 906, 861 N.Y.S.2d 610, 611 (2008) (“It is well settled that a rear-end collision with a stopped vehicle establishes a prima facie case of negligence on the part of the driver of the rear vehicle. (emphasis added));  Vespe v. Kazi, 62 A.D.3d 408, 878 N.Y.S.2d 46, 47 (1st Dep’t 2009) (“A rear-end collision with a stopped vehicle establishes a prima facie case of negligence on the part of the operator of the second vehicle.” (emphasis added)); Garcia v. Bakemark Ingredients (East) Inc., 19 A.D.3d 224, 797 N.Y.S.2d 467,468 (1st Dep’t 2005) ( “[A] rear-end collision with a stopped vehicle establishes a prima facie case of negligence on the part of the driver who strikes the vehicle in front.” (emphasis added)); Empire Ins. Co. v. Lackowitz, 58 A.D.3d 797, 872 N.Y.S.2d 186 (2d Dep’t 2009) (“A rear-end collision with a stopped or stopping vehicle creates a prima facie case of negligence with respect to the operator of the moving vehicle and imposes a duty on the operator to provide a non-negligent explanation for the collision.” (emphasis added)).  In contrast, when both vehicles are moving and neither is stopped, the negligence of the following driver is simply not always so clear as to justify imposition of a presumption as a matter of law.