As anyone who has ever been involved in a motor vehicle accident knows, it only takes a few seconds for a life to be changed irrevocably. Car crashes can result in multiple injuries and property damage in the blink of an eye. When a chain reaction car accident occurs, the damages are multiplied.
Multiple cars, multiple injuries
On a recent Wednesday afternoon, the lives of four people were immediately affected when a three-car crash occurred on Route 9G in Rhinebeck. DailyFreeman.com reported that the first vehicle that was hit was stopped in the southbound lane, as the driver was preparing to make a turn onto Middle Road. Another car traveling in the same direction did not stop in time and collided with the stopped car. The force of the impact pushed the car into the northbound lane of traffic, where it was struck by a third vehicle, causing the first car to turn around in the road.
Four people sustained injuries in the crash, which also caused damage to the three cars involved. One of the victims was injured more seriously than the other three; that person was transported to Saint Francis Hospital in Poughkeepsie. The other three people who suffered injuries were taken to Northern Dutchess Hospital.
Following too closely
Although the report does not mention charges concerning this accident, it is likely that the driver who hit the stopped vehicle was following too closely. Following too closely, also known as tailgating, makes it more difficult for a driver to stop quickly enough to avoid an accident if the car ahead slows down or comes to a halt. It is one of the leading causes of accidents in Dutchess County.
According to crash data from the county compiled by the Institute for Traffic Safety Management and Research, during the years 2009 to 2011, following too closely was one of the top three causes of motor vehicle accidents, following distracted driving and unsafe speed. In fact, over the three-year period studied, accidents attributed to following too closely increased each year. In 2009, 14.8 percent of motor vehicle crashes in Dutchess County were the result of a motorist following too closely, while in 2011, the number of accidents caused by tailgating was up to 16.5 percent.
Establishing negligence in a rear-end collision
It is established law in New York that a rear-end collision with a stopped vehicle creates a prima facie case of negligence by the driver of the rearmost vehicle, unless that driver can offer a non-negligent explanation for the accident. A prima facie case is one that is sufficient to establish a fact unless the other party rebuts it, and negligence is defined as the failure to act with reasonable care under the circumstances. Thus, unless the driver who ran into the stopped car can present evidence showing that he or she was not negligent, the party whose car was hit should be able to recover damages.
Rear-end collisions can lead to serious injuries. If you have been injured in a car accident in Dutchess County, contact a personal injury attorney to discuss the circumstances of the crash. You may be entitled to compensation for medical bills, lost wages, property damage and other damages.