Like another car accident, rear-end collisions can result in severe injuries, especially at high speed. The victims of these accidents can sustain serious injuries and face significant financial issues in the aftermath. Thankfully, the law generally protects an injured person’s right to compensation for damages. Where insurance fails to provide sufficient payment, the civil court offers another avenue to collect damages. You may be entitled to more than you know if you suffered an injury or lost a loved one in a rear-end collision auto accident.
What Are the Potential Causes of Rear-End Collisions?
Rear-end collisions are almost always the result of driver error. Driving while distracted and tailgating are the two most common causes. Unfortunately, not everyone is a skilled multi-tasker, and several things can distract you while driving. Some typical examples include:
- Using a cellphone. Texting, talking on the phone, and checking and sending emails are all distractions, even if you only look away from the road for a second.
- Looking or reaching for something. It can be tempting to reach over the seat or grab something on the floor, thinking it should only take a split second to do it. However, accidents can happen that quickly.
- Eating or drinking. Having a bite to eat on the road is common. However, it can cause distractions, especially if you drop something.
- Doing makeup. Getting ready for work or an event in the car is surprisingly common. Unfortunately, it can also cause you to look away long enough to cause an accident.
- Daydreaming. Cognitive distractions can be just as dangerous as tangible ones. Everyone has moments when they look around and realize they cannot remember the last few moments on the road.
Tailgating is a form of aggressive driving often caused by impatience. The standard distance for driving behind someone is measured by the three-second rule. If you pinpoint a stationary object and can count three seconds between the time the car in front passes it and the time you pass it, you are within a safe distance. The purpose is to give yourself plenty of room. Without enough space between the two, the driver in the back does not have enough time to stop safely. Combine either distraction or tailgating with speed, driving under the influence, or driving fatigued, and you have a recipe for a serious rear-end collision.
What Are the Common Injuries Suffered From a Rear-End Accident?
Injuries from a rear-end collision accident can vary significantly based on several factors, including the speed at the time of the collision and the size and make of the vehicles involved. However, the most common injuries include:
- Whiplash. Even a minor fender-bender can cause whiplash. It occurs when the force behind the impact causes a person’s head to violently move forward and backward, causing thousands of microscopic tears in the soft tissue of the neck and resulting in painful swelling and stiffness.
- Spinal and back injuries. Because collisions occur with blunt force, they can cause damage to the spine and back in many ways. For example, Rear-end collisions commonly result in herniated discs, broken vertebrae, and nerve damage. Some severe cases can result in temporary or permanent paralysis.
- Broken bones. Because of the position of drivers and passengers in a vehicle, broken legs, arms, and collar bones are common in rear-end collisions occurring at medium to high speed.
- Cuts and bruises. Lacerations can occur when the crash results in broken glass or other sharp objects flying around the car. Bruises can happen anywhere, but drivers commonly sustain abdominal bruising when thrown into the steering wheel.
- Head injuries. Even with airbags, a high-speed rear-end collision can result in traumatic head injuries, such as concussions.
Victims of auto accidents often must return to the road at some point. Sometimes they struggle with post-traumatic stress syndrome or anxiety caused by the trauma of the accident. These injuries are just as serious and require professional attention and treatment.
What Should You Do After a Rear-End Accident?
No one gets behind the wheel of a car expecting to experience a rear-end collision. However, it is very common, and if it does happen to you, you benefit from knowing the steps you can take to get the proper authorities on the scene and the help you need. The steps to take after a rear-end collision accident include:
- Check your body for injuries. Once you can take in what happened, try to remain calm and assess your body. Your adrenaline will start pumping, potentially masking pain, but you can look and feel around for any signs of injury.
- Alert first responders. Call 911 and wait for emergency services to arrive if anyone suffers an injury. You can call the non-emergency police line in more minor accidents without injury. Either way, make sure you report the accident to the police.
- File a report. When there is minimal damage and no injuries, the police may not come. However, you should still go to the station to file a report or see if you can file online.
- Make a record of the scene. Use your phone to take pictures of the damage to both vehicles. Ideally, you would not move the cars and could document their exact positions immediately following the impact. Include the surrounding area as well as visible injuries in your photographs as well.
- Write down everyone’s information. Get the other driver’s license and insurance information, and ask everyone involved for their contact information. If you see any eyewitnesses, ask them as well.
- Get a medical evaluation. Anyone in a car accident should see a doctor even if they have no apparent injuries. For example, internal bleeding can take days to show any signs of damage. Seeing a doctor right away benefits both your health and your case.
- Talk to a rear-end collision accident lawyer. Every accident is different. An attorney can advise you of your rights and ensure you have all the necessary information to help you collect the compensation you deserve.
When you speak with an attorney, the first rule of business is to determine who is liable for the accident. The at-fault party or their insurer is responsible for paying for the damages. When the insurer refuses your claim or attempts to undervalue your damages, an attorney can help you file a lawsuit with the civil court and begin collecting evidence.
Who Is at Fault for a Rear-End Collision?
More often than not, the responsible party in a rear-end collision is the driver in the back. Every driver should know to follow at a safe distance from the vehicles in front of them. Failing to do so is a negligent act, making them responsible should they collide with the leading car.
When Is the Driver in Front at Fault?
While it is rare that the leading driver is responsible for a rear-end collision, examples of cases in which they would be at fault include:
- Leaving the vehicle partially in a lane when pulling over for a mechanical issue
- Abruptly switching the car into reverse gear
- Hitting the brakes suddenly and without reason
- Driving with broken brake lights
Hitting the brakes to intimidate a tailgater is dangerous and a traffic violation. Most states consider it a form of aggressive driving. When aggressive driving results in an accident, it becomes reckless driving, which could result in criminal charges in many states.
What Are the Advantages of Hiring a Rear-End Collision Accident Lawyer?
You can file an insurance claim following an accident without the help of legal representation. You can even file a civil lawsuit and represent yourself. However, you may consider the advantages of hiring an experienced rear-end collision accident lawyer. For example:
- They handle all the legal paperwork, including filing your lawsuit.
- They can access experts to help investigate your accident and find evidence. As the plaintiff, you are responsible for proving fault.
- They understand the value of your claim and will help you assign a monetary value to general damages, such as pain and suffering and emotional distress.
- They provide a professional understanding of the laws pertaining to your case.
- They offer friendly support during a stressful time in your life.
- Some attorneys may have connections with or know of doctors specializing in car accident injuries.
- They represent you in all processes, including conversations with the insurance company.
- They negotiate your claim with the insurer to attempt to settle without going to trial.
- They often work on contingency, which means they only receive compensation for their work when the case concludes in a settlement or award.
If you suffered an injury in a rear-end collision caused by the other driver, the team at Jason Stone Injury Lawyers is here to help you get your life back. Any time an auto accident results in injuries and property damage, serious financial consequences typically follow. To help alleviate some of that stress, we charge no upfront fees to get started on your case. The first element of the Stone Cold Guarantee ensures we get paid only after you get paid. Contact Jason Stone Injury Lawyers today for a free consultation and legal representation on which you can count. There’s No Obligation, Just Information (R).