Causes of Car Accidents in NY

Auto accidents may be a fact of life, but they almost never happen by mere coincidence. In fact, the overwhelming majority of car accidents are caused by negligence — that is, someone’s failure to behave reasonably, responsibly, or lawfully.

How, exactly, does negligence lead to collision?

In the sections that follow, we examine several of the most common causes of car accidents in New York.

Careless Drivers

Too often, drivers allow themselves to become hurried, hasty, impatient, or distracted while driving. Common causes of car accidents include:

  • Speeding — Speed limits are carefully calibrated for each road and must be obeyed at all times. Drivers should understand that the posted limit is a maximum speed, not a minimum. Likewise, the posted limit is a rule, not a suggestion. Traveling at an unsafe speed significantly increases the likelihood of serious injury.
  • Texting while driving — There is never an excuse for using a mobile device while driving. Unfortunately, texting and smartphone internet use behind the wheel have grown into a full-fledged epidemic here in New York. Those who text and drive may be liable for the injuries they cause.
  • Other forms of distracted driving — From browsing for music to eating or applying makeup, any form of distracted driving is dangerous and may constitute negligence under New York personal injury law.
  • Tailgating — Drivers must maintain a safe following distance at all times. In most cases (though not all), in a rear-end collision, the rear driver will be assigned fault.
  • Running red lights or stop signs — Drivers should come to a complete stop at every red light or stop sign, allow adequate time, look in all directions for oncoming traffic or pedestrians, and then proceed with caution. If the light is yellow, drivers should come to a stop whenever safe to do so. If the light is red, drivers should not proceed until the light turns green (and even then, the driver should look carefully before accelerating).
  • Reckless driving — Road rage, aggressive driving, frequent or unsafe lane changing, racing, and improper or last-minute turns can all be examples of reckless driving in New York.
  • Driving in the wrong direction — Wrong-way accidents tend to be especially serious because of the high risk of a head-on collision. Drivers who are drowsy or drunk may be especially likely to travel in the wrong direction (more on this below).
  • Failure to yield — When drivers fail to observe the right of way, they put others at risk of harm… cyclists and pedestrians in particular.
  • Drunk driving — Even though most drivers understand that operating a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs is dangerous (and illegal), DUI accidents still happen all the time. Too many New Yorkers have been seriously injured or killed by an intoxicated driver.
  • Drowsy driving — Driving without adequate sleep can be just as dangerous as driving while drunk. Studies have found that drowsiness is just as impairing as excessive alcohol. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to ascertain whether a driver was well rested at the time of an accident. But in certain cases (such as those involving commercial truck drivers), there may be records to assist in determining whether the driver was given adequate time to rest before hitting the road.

Defective Vehicles

Just as drivers have a legal duty to operate their vehicles safely, manufacturers have a duty to design and build those vehicles safely too. Vehicle defects or breaches of warranty can give rise to claims for compensation against the companies that design, assemble, distribute, and sell vehicles.

In some cases, an injured driver may have a claim against a negligent driver and a vehicle manufacturer. An experienced New York car accident lawyer can help you identify each party that might be liable for the damages in your situation.

Dangerous Driving Conditions

When inclement weather strikes, or when dangerous road conditions become apparent, drivers have a duty to modify their behavior accordingly. The appropriate course of action might depend on the conditions at hand.

Even though no one intends to lose control of their car in ice, rain, or snow, drivers are generally responsible for the damages they cause when they crash into someone else during inclement weather.

In some cases, victims might also have a claim against third parties for creating dangerous conditions on the road (such as a commercial transport company that allows unsecured cargo to fall onto the road, creating a rollover hazard) or for failing to maintain the roadway (such as a state government that neglects a state-maintained bridge or stretch of road).

Injured in a New York Car Accident? Schedule a Free Consultation Today.

You might not be sure what caused your car accident. That’s okay. As New York auto accident lawyers, part of our job is to investigate your accident and do everything we can to identify the type of negligence that caused it.

In some cases, we may even work with investigative experts to recreate the accident and get to the bottom of how it happened.

If you or someone you love has been injured in a New York auto accident, let the Manhattan & White Plains auto accident attorneys at Lever & Ecker, PLLC fight for your rights.

We’ll work tirelessly to identify each relevant source of liability and to get you every penny you deserve.

Get started with a free case review, contact us online or call (914) 288-9191 to talk with an attorney.


by Lever & Ecker, PLLC
Last updated on - Originally published on