Rear End Collision Accident Attorneys
Of all the types of auto accidents that there are, it is generally believed that a rear-end collision is the simplest one in which to figure out responsibility and liability. While that is generally the case, there are (like with all accidents) exceptions.
The Overarching Truth
On the whole, rear-end collisions are the most common type of auto accident on the roadways. These kinds of accidents occur when a car that is moving hits a stationary or slow-moving car from behind. Depending on the speed of the car behind, the damage may be minimal to the car, or the entire trunk area could be crushed and the driver and passengers suffer serious injuries. Deaths can occur in these types of accidents, but the fatality rate is smaller than other types of accidents.
As you might expect, in many cases the driver of the car that rear-ends the other will be the one who winds up with the liability for the accident. After all, the driver should be able to see out the windshield at a car that is right in front and should be able to apply the brakes and stop before making contact with the car in front. As it would seem common sense to avoid these kinds of accidents, the truth is there are millions of these across America every year, and they range from simple “fender benders” to major incidents that cause serious injuries.
Many times, a rear-end collision occurs with little or no advance warning. After all, the driver and passengers in the front vehicle are usually not looking behind them at cars behind, and there is a usually reasonable assumption that the car behind will stop before making contact.
So with rear-end collisions being relatively unexpected, it is equally reasonable that certain strain and sprain injuries involving the neck and head would be common injuries in such an impact. Whiplash is the most noteworthy and common injury suffered in rear-end collisions, especially as victims may suffer whiplash symptoms in an accident from a car traveling as slow as 5 miles per hour. As the speed increases, the impact on the neck, head and body grow s exponentially. For example, mild whiplash may be felt as slow as 5 mph; increase that speed by double, to 10 mph, as the injury effect will increase four times. Double the speed again, and damage increases by eight-fold.
These injuries may escalate to headaches, brain injury, sprained back muscles, spinal stress such as fractures of the vertebrae, or nerve damage from a spinal cord injury, and of course broken bones such as the ribcage or shoulders.
It isn’t just the force of the impact that determines the severity of the injuries; there are other mechanical factors that go into establishing injuries – any failures of the seats or seat belts, the height of the seat (and the back and head rest), the difference in speeds of the two vehicles, the size of the vehicles in comparison to each other, the angle and height of the seat belt as well as the location and direction of the impact.
When is the Rear Driver Not Liable?
As was mentioned before, most rear-end collisions will be pretty cut-and-dried that the driver of the vehicle in back will be liable for the rear-end collision. But as was also mentioned, there are times where the rear driver may indeed not be automatically liable for damage and/or injuries resulting from the accident.
All drivers have a certain expectation to follow at a safe distance, and to be a safe distance in front of a vehicle behind. This allows for sudden braking to occur without jeopardizing other cars. The key aspect to auto-accident liability is negligence. Most of the time, when a car rear-ends another, the driver of the rear car can often be proved negligent in his or her duty to maintain safe distance. Negligence can be found when the driver is distracted, following too closely, or exceeding safe speed guidelines for the roadway and weather conditions present.
However, there are some situations where the driver of the car in front may be found negligent, such as:
- Taillights and/or brake lights not working properly;
- Stopping suddenly for no apparent reason;
- Stopping quickly to turn but then failing to do the turn; or
- Abruptly shifting into reverse.
Never Assume Fault
As these factors above show, just because you might be involved in a rear-end collision does not mean you should automatically assume that you are or will be found to be at fault for the accident. Once you have ensured the health and safety of all victims in the crash and collected information about vehicles and drivers, made contact with a quality Memphis personal-injury attorney for a free consultation about your particular case and start a comprehensive accident investigation so all the facts can come out to determine actual responsibility.
Whether you are the car in front or behind, your rights deserve protection and you should not allow yourself to be harassed into a settlement until an independent investigation is conducted. A quality and experienced Memphis personal-injury attorney can advocate for you and make sure that the truth comes out in your rear-end collision case. Contact us to schedule a consultation today.