Speeding doesn’t consist of just violating the posted speed limit. In New York and Long Island, speeding means going faster than is “reasonable and prudent under the conditions” and the road hazards at the time. In other words, just because you’re doing the posted limit doesn’t mean you aren’t speeding.
Of course, you’re also in trouble if you violate the posted speed limits, no matter the conditions. You can’t say to the officer, yes, I was doing 90, but there’s no traffic, and the weather is excellent. It also doesn’t usually do much good to say, officer, my wife is in advanced labor (unless she is) because they probably won’t let you off the hook for that either.
Long Island Speed Limits
Generally, Long Island’s speed limits are not very high. In Nassau County, for example, residential districts’ speed limits may not exceed 30 miles per hour. The Long Island freeways and expressways did not adopt the increases when the federal 55-mile-an-hour speed limit ended in 1987.
They stayed with the Carter-era eco- and safety-friendly 55-mile-an-hour speed limit. For this reason, roads like the Long Island Expressway continue to have a posted, though frequently ignored, 55-mile-per-hour speed limit.
Work Zone Speed Limits
Like most states and municipalities, Long Island has special rules relating to speeding in a posted work zone. Long Island follows the New York State rules, which require that the posted construction speed limit be no more than 20 miles per hour less than the standard speed limit for the area, with a minimum construction zone speed of at least 25 miles per hour. These requirements reflect but vary slightly from the Federal Highway Administration requirements.
Driving Too Fast for Conditions
As mentioned, not every speeding driver is violating the speed limit. The speed limit applies in ideal weather and traffic, and any adverse conditions can make the posted speed limit too fast to drive safely.
When drivers are within the legal speed limit but drive dangerously fast for conditions, they can cause crashes and face repercussions under the law. This is particularly true for commercial truck drivers, who always must take conditions into account when operating large semi-trucks.
Dangers on Long Island
Long Island’s two counties have among the most serious motor vehicle accident and accident fatality rates in New York State. The prevalence of speeding is a primary factor in these high rates on the Island’s 55-miles-per-hour freeways. The Long Island Expressway, for instance, generally sees traffic moving regularly at 80 miles per hour, despite the posted 55-miles-per-hour limit.
Both counties have been operating county-wide road safety campaigns for the last year or more to reduce speeding, distracted driving, and other hazards that lead to so many accidents and deaths.
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The Prevalence of Speeding
New York State issues around 700,000 moving violations annually. Of those, Nassau and Suffolk Counties account for nearly 58,000. Even with all those tickets issued, the counties continue to experience alarmingly high rates of speeding and an increased number of traffic fatalities.
Accidents Due to Speeding
Speeding is a concern on Long Island roads because speeding plays a role in about 26 percent of accidents nationwide. As a common factor in crashes, speeding is highly dangerous.
Despite the risks of speeding and the possible legal violations, many drivers continue to speed.
Higher speeds put drivers at risk of:
- Not stopping for obstacles or traffic
- Hitting drivers making left turns who misjudged their speed
- Losing control on curves or hills
- Hydroplaning or sliding on slick roads in bad weather
Disaster can result when someone drives well over the speed limit and a slower vehicle suddenly moves into their lane. High-speed crashes can result in particularly severe injuries, which can change the lives of victims driving safely and within the law.
Liability for Speed-Related Accidents and Injuries
When speeding drivers cause accidents and injuries, victims should not have to suffer the consequences when they did nothing wrong. Since no one can turn back time and take away physical injuries, the law provides financial recovery for injured accident victims.
No-Fault or At-Fault Claims
New York has a no-fault auto insurance system. After a car accident injury, you will file a claim with your personal injury protection (PIP) insurance, which can have limitations. If you have serious injuries and your losses exceed your policy limits, you might have the right to file a claim against the insurance of the speeding driver.
Proving a Driver was Liable
To recover from another driver’s insurance coverage, you must demonstrate the driver was liable for causing your injuries. Violating the law can be automatic proof of negligence, so if a driver received a conviction for speeding, it can prove liability. However, even if there was no speeding citation, you can still prove a driver was negligent.
An experienced car accident lawyer will know what evidence you need to prove liability. This might include witness statements, as others might have seen the driver flying down the road recklessly and too fast. Video surveillance might also catch a driver speeding.
If a large truck was speeding and collided with your car, the truck’s black box might have data showing the truck’s speed just before it crashed. All of this can be evidence of speeding that allows you to hold another driver responsible for your injuries and losses.
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How Much Should the Driver Pay?
It is one thing to know that a driver’s insurance should have to cover your losses, but do you know how much payment you deserve? Most car accident victims underestimate their losses because they do not have experience with the injury claim process. Without knowing how claims work, you may assume you deserve much less than the law allows—and much less than you need to pay your bills.
You want a car accident lawyer to calculate your losses, whether you have a PIP claim or an at-fault claim against another driver.
Some losses for which you might seek financial recovery include:
- Medical bills – Injuries are costly, and you can incur bills for emergency care, hospitalization, doctor’s visits, physical therapy, medications, and more. You can also seek compensation for future medical care costs if you need additional treatment down the road.
- Lost earnings – Losing income is common following an injury, whether you need to miss a few days of work or your injury-related disabilities prevent you from ever returning to work. You can seek compensation for all the income you already lost and what you expect to lose in the future.
- Pain and suffering – Pain and suffering and other intangible losses do not stem from bills or financial losses. Instead, they are non-economic losses that can be difficult to calculate. Car accident lawyers know how to value such intangible losses, which can be a major chunk of your settlement.
- Wrongful death – Did you lose a close family member in a tragic crash due to a speeding driver? If so, you have important legal rights. Even though you were not in the crash, your family suffers devastating financial, practical, and emotional losses due to a preventable death. You can seek compensation for your losses stemming from the wrongful death.
Other Penalties for Speeding
The following material looks at the possible penalties of a Long Island speeding ticket. If someone is unfortunate enough to receive one of the 58,000 speeding tickets issued to Long Island drivers this year, they may face a complicated and expensive process.
The process begins when the police stop a driver for excessive speed and the officer issues a ticket. As soon as the driver gets the ticket, an official clock starts running. They want to make sure drivers respond to the ticket before that clock runs out. If they don’t, the state can suspend the driver’s license. The court may also find a driver guilty via a default conviction based on failing to answer the ticket.
The state can also suspend a driver’s license for not paying the default conviction fine, and it can also enter a judgment against the driver. Yes, someone can collect quite a tidy bundle of suspensions from one offense. The suspensions operate consecutively, and the accompanying fines and penalties just keep going up.
Points for Speeding
A speeding ticket starts at three points for one to ten miles over the limit and goes up to 11 points for driving 40 miles over the posted limit. Note that 11 points result in the state suspending a license. Depending on what else the officer listed on the ticket, a driver may get additional points.
For instance, when cited for doing 40 miles over the limit, a driver might also face reckless driving charges for another five points. The state issues the points, not the county.
Points stay on a license as long as the conviction remains on the record for up to four years. However, only the points accrued within 18 months of your most recent violation count toward the 11-point trigger for a suspended license or Driver Responsibility Assessment.
The DRA is a fee a driver must pay over three years in New York if they accumulate six or more points within 18 months or receive a conviction of certain traffic offenses, usually relating to impaired driving.
This process is only one aspect of what might happen following a speeding accident. The civil process can begin simultaneously or might happen once the speeding ticket wraps up.
Holding Speeding Drivers Civilly Accountable
While having points on a driving record, paying fines, or even having a license suspension are all serious consequences, they might pale compared to the civil liability for causing a speeding accident. Such drivers can face a large insurance payout, which usually means an impressive hike in their insurance premiums.
When you qualify to file a civil claim under New York law, you want a car accident lawyer handling the process. A lawyer knows how insurance companies work and protects you from an adjuster’s often adversarial conduct. While insurance representatives will tell you they are on your side, they are not – their goal is to minimize your payment or eliminate it.
Never trust an adjuster when they ask for a recorded statement or want detailed information about what happened. They can use this information against your claim.
For example, you might say you “didn’t even see the driver coming,” meaning the driver was going so fast that you had no warning. However, the adjuster might allege that you did not see the driver, so you must have been distracted. This tactic can reduce your settlement.
Instead of risking saying the wrong thing or having an adjuster take advantage of you, have a car accident attorney in Long Island handle all your insurance communications. They will not back down to pushy adjusters and will fight for the full amount you deserve.
Beware of Settlement Offers
Insurance companies know car accident victims are eager to receive payment. Adjusters might assure you there is no need for a lawyer and make a quick settlement offer. While it might seem like a lot of money to you, the adjuster knows you deserve more.
Insurance adjusters do not want you to have a lawyer because then you will have professional advice on whether an offer is sufficient. They want you to accept a lowball offer.
By having a lawyer review all offers, you will not accept anything less than you need to cover your losses. If you walk away with less than you deserve, the speeding driver and their insurer both win. You lose the right to seek additional compensation – even if you realize you made a mistake.
After a speed-related crash, get the medical care you need and then reach out to a Long Island car accident law firm for assistance. Speeding drivers should face the consequences for the harm they cause, and the right legal team can help.