A rear-end collision occurs when a motorist strikes a vehicle from behind. These collisions typically happen at stop lights, stop signs, or in rush hour traffic.
Rear-end collisions are the most frequent type of vehicle accident in the United States, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). These accidents make up 29 percent of all vehicular crashes and have caused numerous injuries and fatalities.
Do I have a legal case after a rear-end collision? If you were in a rear-end collision and suffered injuries, you may consider partnering with an Augusta car accident lawyer near you to find out if you have a legal case.
Common Causes of Rear-End Collisions
Distracted driving is one of the leading causes of rear-end collisions. When motorists text, talk on the phone, or engage in other activity behind the wheel, they can cause these accidents.
Other causes of rear-end collisions include:
- Tailgating: When drivers drive too close to the car in front of them, they give themselves less space and time to brake.
- Speeding: When motorists drive too quickly, their vehicles need more time to stop. For instance, a car traveling at 60 miles per hour needs at least 120 feet to come to a complete stop.
- Slick roads: Bad weather conditions can cause many issues for drivers. During heavy rainfall, the roads become slick, reducing traction between the road and the tires. This can make it harder for motorists to brake in time to prevent collisions.
All motorists must follow traffic rules and guidelines to prevent collisions. When a motorist acts negligently, they could bear liability for any losses stemming from a rear-end collision.
Common Injuries Caused by Rear-End Collisions
Many people believe that rear-end collisions don’t cause serious injuries. That’s not the case. Even at low speeds, rear-end collisions can cause life-altering conditions. Some common injuries that arise from these accidents include:
Whiplash is one of the most common injuries someone could sustain in a rear-end accident. It happens when the muscles in the neck snap back and forth upon impact. Typically, people with whiplash recover on their own within one to three weeks. However, whiplash can persist for years. Symptoms of whiplash include neck pain, stiffness, and numbness.
Traumatic Brain Injuries
Traumatic brain injuries could occur during a rear-end collision if someone hits their head on the steering wheel or dashboard during the collision. These injuries happen when someone suffers a violent blow or jolt to the head. If the brain injury is mild, it could only impact the person for a short time. However, severe brain injuries could cause significant impairments for the rest of their life.
Spinal Cord Injuries
A spinal cord injury occurs when there is damage to any part of the spinal cord or nerves at the end of the spinal canal. A spinal cord injury could occur even at low speeds. People who experience spinal cord injuries could have permanent changes in their strength, sensation, and other bodily functions.
Mental Health Complications
Rear-end collisions cause more than physical injuries; they can also cause various mental health complications, such as anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Each of these illnesses can impede a person’s quality of life, plans for the future, and relationships.
There are other injuries you could suffer in a rear-end collision, such as broken bones, lacerations, and nerve damage. It’s critical that you seek medical attention immediately after being in a rear-end crash. Prompt medical attention can promote your recovery period and reduce the likelihood of any complications.
Fault in Rear-End Collisions: Who’s to Blame?
Many people assume that the rear driver is always at fault in a rear-end accident. After all, the rear vehicle collided with the one in front of it. So, shouldn’t the rear driver bear liability? Not always. While it’s true that many rear drivers are at fault in rear-end collisions, fault could also lie with:
The Motorist Who Got Hit
If a motorist brakes suddenly or without warning, the rear driver could hit them. Drivers must pay attention to their surroundings when braking. This gives other drivers enough time to stop and prevent collisions.
An Auto Parts Manufacturer
When you purchase a vehicle, you expect it to work properly. However, each year, manufacturers issue tons of recalls on cars’ brakes. If your brakes don’t work properly, and you can’t stop in time, this could cause an accident. Here, you could file a product liability claim with the manufacturer of the faulty car part.
A Phantom Driver
No, phantom drivers aren’t ghosts. Imagine this situation to understand more:
- Motorists are traveling down a busy roadway.
- The light turns red.
- The lead vehicle stops suddenly.
- The rear motorist swerves to avoid hitting the vehicle in front of them, but instead strikes another car from behind.
- The motorist of the lead vehicle speeds off, and they’re never identified.
In that case, because the phantom driver braked suddenly, they caused the collision, although their vehicle wasn’t directly involved. Determining fault and liability in rear-end collisions can get complicated, especially if multiple parties are involved.
That’s why many car accident claimants choose to work with injury lawyers. These professionals can determine fault and liability for an injured client’s losses.
What to Do After Getting in a Rear-End Collision
There are many steps one can take after a rear-end collision to protect their health and legal rights. Here are some post-accident considerations:
What to Do at the Accident Scene
If you’re still at the scene of a rear-end collision, you should:
- Contact first responders. The first thing to do, especially if someone is hurt, is to call first responders. Stay on the scene until the police arrive. Once they come, give them a detailed description of what happened. This could include the direction both cars were moving. The more information you provide, the more detailed the police report could be. This can serve as a valuable piece of evidence if you file a claim or lawsuit later.
- Accept medical attention. After calling 911, paramedics may arrive at the accident scene. Even if your injuries seem minor, get an exam. After an accident, it is common for people’s adrenaline to run high. This could mask serious, underlying conditions, such as traumatic brain injuries.
- Get the contact information of those involved. If possible, get the other driver’s contact information, including their name, insurance policy number, and license plate number. You should also get the information of anyone who saw the accident happen, such as bystanders. Their testimony could bolster your injury claim.
- Document the accident scene. Again, if possible, take photos of the accident scene, including the damage to your vehicle and the other party’s. Once tow trucks take the vehicles away, evidence could get lost.
Your health and safety should be your first priorities following a rear-end collision. If any of the measures above endanger your welfare, avoid them. You don’t want to accidentally make the collision’s aftermath worse.
What to Do in the Days After the Collision
In the days following the collision, you should consider:
- Following up with your primary care doctor. After the accident clears, follow up with a primary care doctor for a check-up. They can determine if further medical attention is necessary. Your medical care provider can also document any signs of injury.
- Contacting your insurance company. Everyone involved should contact their insurance company, even if the accident isn’t their fault. The insurance company can document the accident and provide your next steps. In addition, contacting the insurance company establishes that an accident happened, and you intend to seek damages.
- Connecting with a rear-end collisions attorney. Seeking compensation after a rear-end collision isn’t as straightforward as you would think. The other party may deny liability. You could have concerns about your damages’ cost. You don’t have to worry about those things with a lawyer. They can file your claim and seek the compensation you need.
Frequently Asked Questions About Rear-End Collisions
You could spend hours researching rear-end collisions. Instead of wading through pages and pages of research and statistics, here are some of the most frequently asked questions about rear-end accidents.
How Often Do Rear-End Collisions Happen?
As noted, rear-end collisions are the most common motor vehicle accident. In one recent study, out of 100 car accidents, nearly 30 were rear-end crashes. Yet, it’s worth noting that while rear-end collisions happen frequently, they aren’t the most dangerous accident type. Head-on collisions are the deadliest accidents, accounting for thousands of deaths each year.
What Compensation Can You Get After a Rear-End Collision?
If another party’s negligence caused your rear-end collision, you can file a claim to pursue your past, present, and future injury-related losses, such as:
- Healthcare costs
- Pain and suffering and inconvenience
- Lost income and other sources of income, such as freelance contracts
- Mental trauma
- Rehabilitation and mental health counseling
- Property damage expenses
- Temporary transportation arrangements
- Childcare costs
- Out-of-pocket expenses
Some rear-end collisions turn fatal. Depending on where you live, you could have the right to pursue a wrongful death action. Here, you file an injury case on behalf of your deceased loved one. In that case, financial recovery could comprise funeral costs and other related expenses.
What Happens if My Children Were in the Car When the Rear-End Accident Happened?
If you were in a rear-end collision, and your children suffered injuries, you can include their damages in your claim or lawsuit. Yet, the state may also give them the right to sue once they turn 18. Your child’s rights and your legal options determine your next steps.
How Long Do I Have to Sue After a Rear-End Collision?
How long you have to sue after a rear-end collision mainly depends on where you live. For instance, if you live in Georgia, you could have two years from the collision’s date to file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver. However, other states have less generous filing periods, sometimes giving you only a year to act.
Occasionally, the law makes exceptions and extends claimants’ filing periods. For instance, you could have more than two years to act if the at-fault party fled the accident scene. An attorney can explain your options and guide you through the financial recovery process.
How a Rear-End Collisions Lawyer Can Manage Your Injury Claim
You don’t have to manage the legal aftermath of a rear-end collision alone. Now, you should focus your full attention on healing, not navigating a complex claim or lawsuit. When you entrust your case to an injury lawyer, they aim to seek full compensation for your losses.
They can also:
- Gather evidence to support your case. You need evidence when negotiating a settlement. Evidence could comprise the police report, photos of the accident scene, and eyewitness testimony.
- File your claim within the applicable deadline. There are many obligations that go into filing a successful rear-end collision claim. Your lawyer can follow all applicable deadlines, negotiate with the insurer, and explain your options.
- Interview witnesses. Witness testimony is an important part of any injury claim. Your lawyer could consult with accident reconstruction experts, healthcare providers, and others to support your allegations.
- Identify your losses. You may have recoverable losses that you don’t even know about. Your lawyer can review your damage-related documentation to pursue fair compensation.
- File your civil lawsuit. Many rear-end collision claims resolve through insurance negotiations. Still, some cases go to court. If a lawsuit could resolve your injury case, your lawyer can manage litigation and everything it entails.
Many lawyers offer their help on contingency. This means they only get paid for their services if your case succeeds. Otherwise, you pay nothing.
You Don’t Have to Navigate a Rear-End Collisions Case Alone
If you or a loved one suffered injuries in a rear-end collision, you have legal options. You can hold the at-fault party financially accountable for your losses, everything from your medical bills to pain and suffering. An Augusta personal injury lawyer can offer more information about rear-end collisions and advise you on your options. You could start a no-obligation case review at no cost today.