What Causes Rear End Accidents?
The most common type of car accident in the United States is a rear-end car accident. These types of accidents account for 28 percent of all accidents across the country. Fortunately, these accidents are rarely deadly and account for just 6 percent of all fatal accidents. They do, however, cause serious injuries that can result in permanent disability, as well as a lifetime of pain and suffering. What you do after a rear-end accident can affect your ability to file a claim and collect the compensation you need.
After a rear-end crash, you need someone on your side to help you fight for the money you deserve. Having a Austin car accident lawyer on your side can take some of the burdens off of you after an accident. This will help you fight insurance companies more effectively and ensure that you have the money you need to recover.
Facts About Rear-end Accidents
Did you know that the majority of rear-end accidents (81 percent) occur when the vehicle in front is completely stopped?
Here are more facts you may not know about rear-end accidents.
- In most cases, the rear driver followed too closely
- Majority of rear-end accidents occur during the day
- Majority of rear-end accidents occur on straight, dry roads
- Distracted driving causes 90 percent of rear-end accidents
- Male drivers between 25 and 34 are nearly 2x more likely to get involved in a rear-end accident
- Most rear-end accidents are easily avoidable
Causes of Rear-end Accidents
A rear-end accident occurs when the front of one vehicle slams into the back of another vehicle. This most commonly occurs at intersections, such as stoplights and stop signs. These accidents are often referred to as “fender benders” when they occur at slower rates of speed. However, even accidents that occur at a slow speed, serious injuries can occur.
There are numerous causes of rear-end accidents, including:
- Distracted driving. Over the last decade, smartphones, GPS devices, and onboard infotainment systems made driving without distractions more difficult. As a result, drivers routinely take their eyes off the road to text, talk, or surf the web. When drivers take their eyes, hands, or minds off of the task of driving, they may not see a car stopped at a stop sign. This can cause catastrophic rear-end accidents.
Distracted driving causes between 10 and 50 percent of all collisions. However, it is perhaps more responsible for rear-end accidents. One NHTSA study found that 87 percent of all rear-end crashes included some form of driver distraction. Even more troublesome, 47 percent of those drivers did not even attempt to avoid the collision.
Some of the other distractions that lead to rear-end accidents, included:
- Passenger distractions
- Internal distractions, such as reaching for an object
- Wireless device, such as talking or texting
- Vehicle-related tasks, such as adjusting the radio or the AC
- Eating or drinking
- Driving related inattention, such as looking out the windows or at instrument panels
- Tailgating. Following too closely is another main cause of rear-end accidents. In fact, 59 percent of all rear-end crashes involve a driver that did not maintain adequate distance between themselves and the car in front of them. When a driver brakes hard suddenly because of a road hazard or an emergency, the other driver does not have enough time to stop. This leads to a serious rear-end accident.
- Speeding. Speeding drivers are not able to stop quickly, especially in emergencies. As a result, they may plow into the car in front of them. When drivers begin to decelerate, speeding drivers may not give themselves enough time to react.
- Drunk driving. Drunk drivers often have a slow reaction time. They may not recognize another vehicle at an intersection, or they may simply fail to apply the brakes in time. Some drunk drivers do not even apply the brakes at all, leading to devastating injury accidents.
- Fatigued drivers. When a driver falls asleep at the wheel, they can run off the road or into another vehicle. Rear-end collisions are unfortunately common when a tired driver continues to drive. Fatigue impairs driving judgment and results in inattentive driving.
Injuries After a Rear-end Accident
After a rear-end accident, many accident survivors believe that they did not suffer injury. The adrenaline from the accident can often mask symptoms of injury. Hours or even days later, however, they can find themselves in the emergency room suffering from extreme pain. As such, all injured accident survivors need to seek medical treatment, even if you do not believe you suffered harm. An experienced medical professional should examine you to rule out any complications or injuries.
Some of the most common injuries that can occur after a rear-end accident include:
- Head injuries from hitting head on steering wheel
- Neck injuries
- Cuts from broken glass
- Rib or chest injuries from seatbelts
- Hip injuries
- Shoulder injuries
- Soft tissue damage to the back
Whiplash is one of the most common injuries after a rear-end accident. In fact, more than two million Americans suffer from whiplash every year. When the head whips violently back and forth, the delicate muscles, tendons, and ligaments in the neck can tear or become stretched. This results in pain, stiffness, and decreased mobility.
While the majority of whiplash cases heal quickly without long-term effects, some result in chronic pain and limited range of motion. Chronic whiplash affects 25 percent of all accident survivors. This pain and disability can last for years and can significantly damage their lives. In fact, whiplash injuries cost an estimated $30 billion in medical care and rehabilitative expenses every single year in the United States.
Proving Fault After a Rear-end Accident
To collect compensation after a rear-end accident, you must prove that the other driver caused the accident and your injuries. While at first glance it may seem easy to prove fault, more parties may share liability for the accident than simply the other driver. For example, the bar that served the drunk driver may also share the blame under dram shop liability laws. A government entity that failed to maintain an intersection could also share the blame after a serious rear-end accident.
When proving fault, you will need a lawyer on your side to investigate all aspects of the accident. Your lawyer will need to examine the medical records, police reports, crash scene, and eyewitness accounts to build your case and prove negligence.
When proving negligence, your lawyer must clearly establish four key elements:
- That the driver owed you a duty of care
- The driver breached that duty of care
- The breach directly led to your accident and injuries
- You suffered harm and damages because of the accident
All drivers have a duty to drive responsibly and use care. This is a duty of care. It includes keeping a watch for pedestrians, other vehicles, and obstacles. It also includes controlling the speed and movement of the vehicle to avoid injury. Failure to do so is negligence. A negligent driver must accept liability for the crash and the damages suffered.
Yet proving liability is not always easy. Insurance companies are often skeptical of the injuries suffered in rear-end accidents. Whiplash is one of those injuries because there is no definitive test for whiplash. Instead, a doctor makes this diagnosis based on symptoms. As such, insurance adjusters often delay or deny whiplash claims.
This is why you need an experienced accident lawyer on your side. Your lawyer will need to build your case and negotiate with the insurance companies to help you get the compensation you deserve.
In no fault states, you must turn to your own PIP policy before filing a claim. While this may seem easier, many injured accident survivors find that their own insurance companies do not want to pay these claims, or they want to pay as little as possible.
Other states use a modified comparative fault law. This means that you collect damages as long as you are not 50 percent or more to blame. Yet the amount you receive is offset by the degree of fault you own for the accident. A car accident lawyer in your community can help you understand your state’s laws and how they apply to your case.
Collecting Damages in a Rear-end Accident
After a rear-end accident, you may not believe you need a significant amount of money. Even if your injuries are not severe, the cost of medical expenses may surprise you. A couple of nights in the hospital could easily cost you thousands of dollars. If your injuries result in chronic pain or if complications arise, you may find yourself facing large medical bills quickly. In addition, your injuries can prevent you from working and providing for your family. When this occurs, you can quickly rack up debt and get into financial trouble.
No amount of financial compensation can right the wrongs done to you. However, you and your family should not have to struggle financially because of another person’s negligence. Your attorney can help you seek compensation to offset the expenses and suffering you endured.
Once you prove liability, you can seek damages after a rear-end accident. Damages in a rear-end crash can include all types of losses, both economic and non-economic. Economic damages are monetary losses that accident victims incurred because of their accident and injury. Non-economic damages are other types of losses that the accident victim experienced due to the accident.
Examples of economic and non-economic damages include:
- Medical expenses
- Rehabilitation costs
- Long-term care expenses
- Lost wages
- Loss of future earnings
- Automobile damage
- Other property damage
- Emotional distress
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of consortium
- Loss of enjoyment in life
Building Your Case
To collect the money you need to recover after a rear-end accident, your car accident attorney will need to build your case. This often involves extensive research and examination. Your attorney will need to examine and investigate all the aspects of your accident to establish fault and identify all negligent parties.
This may involve:
- Examining police reports
- Speaking with medical experts
- Reviewing medical records
- Employing accident recreation teams
- Examining the crash site and damage
- Interviewing eyewitnesses
- Speaking with you about your case
After a rear-end accident, it is best to focus your energy on your recovery and your family. However, there are ways you can help your attorney build your case.
Some of the ways you can assist your attorney include:
- Keeping records and receipts of all medical bills and expenses
- Writing down details from the accident while it is fresh in your mind
- Obtaining a copy of the police report
- Gathering eyewitnesses contact information if you are able
- Taking photos of the crash site, crash damage, and your injuries
- Attending all doctor visits and therapy sessions
- Filling all prescription medications
- Not posting on social media
When you meet with your attorney, it is important to discuss other ways you can help build your case. By working together with your car accident lawyer, you can achieve a successful outcome.
How an Injury Law Firm Can Help
After a rear-end accident, you need someone on your side that can fight for you and your rights. Insurance companies are not always eager to pay accident victims what they need. As such, you may need to negotiate aggressively to win the compensation you deserve. A car accident lawyer with extensive knowledge of your state’s injury laws can build a case for you after a serious rear-end accident.
With a Austin personal injury lawyer on your side, insurance companies are more likely to pay accident survivors significantly more money. A reputable car accident attorney in your community can help you review all of your legal options after a rear end accident, so you can choose the one that is best for you.