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Rear-end accidents are probably more common than you think. In fact, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates rear-end crashes account for roughly 40% of all reportable car accidents. Unfortunately, if someone hits the back of your vehicle, you may sustain a variety of serious injuries. Your face, head, spine and shoulders are particularly at risk.

You likely do not have to bear the cost of someone else’s negligence. Rather, you may be able to pursue reasonable compensation for both your injuries and your property damage from whoever is at fault. Who is to blame for a rear-end collision, though?

The general rule

Unlike many other types of car accidents, assigning blame for a rear-end crash is often easy. Typically, the driver of the rear car is responsible for the accident. The reason or this is simple: Drivers have a responsibility to maintain a safe distance. As such, whether your car is in motion or at a complete stop, you should be able to trust other motorists not to hit it.

A rebuttable presumption

While the law presumes the driver of the rear car is to blame for a rear-end collision, there are ways to rebut this presumption. For example, if the rear driver can show there was some sort of unforeseeable circumstance that contributed to the accident, he or she may be able to avoid liability. This argument, though, can be difficult to win.

Comparative negligence

New York law allows for comparative negligence. This approach means more than one party to an accident may share some blame for it. If you are partly responsible for the rear-end collision, your personal injury matter may result in proportionally reduced damages.

If you drive regularly, you may not be able to avoid a rear-end collision forever. Understanding how to assign blame for a rear-end crash is likely the first step for asserting your legal rights.