In the US, rear-end collisions are the most common type of car accident, making up about 29% of crashes yearly. Because rear-end collisions happen frequently, some people think they are minor accidents that do not cause severe injuries or damage. However, these seemingly minor accidents can lead to catastrophic injuries and even death.
What Are Rear-end Collisions?
Rear-end collisions occur when one vehicle crashes into the back of another vehicle. It can also happen if a vehicle reverses into the vehicle behind it. Rear-end collisions usually start with two vehicles but can lead to a chain reaction involving more vehicles.
What Causes Rear-End Collisions?
Rear-end collisions can vary from simple fender benders to serious crashes and can occur for various reasons. Some of the common causes are:
- Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs
- Talking, eating, or texting while driving
- Driving aggressively and recklessly
- Driving too closely to the vehicle in front or behind
- Mechanical problems in the vehicle, such as brake failure and gear issues
- Roadways that have potholes, broken traffic lights, or debris on the road
- Adverse weather conditions, such as fog and hail
What Are the Most Common Injuries From Rear-End Collisions?
The severity of injuries you may sustain from a rear-end collision depends on how fast the cars were going, the weight of the cars involved, and where the impact occurred. Here are the most common injuries and their symptoms:
Whiplash is one of the most common injuries you can sustain from a rear-end collision. It occurs when the neck is rapidly snapped back and forth due to a sudden and forceful movement. The impact from the rear-end accident creates excessive neck movement, which causes ligaments and tendons in the neck and shoulders to strain or tear. Whiplash symptoms often show up days after the accident. They include tingling or numbness in the arms and legs, neck pain and stiffness, shoulder or upper back pain, weakness, dizziness, and headaches.
Back and Spinal Injuries
Back injuries, especially those that involve the spinal cord, can be severe. The impact from the rear-end collision can fracture the vertebrae in the spine, tear the spinal disc, or stretch the muscles and ligaments in the lower back. This can cause numbness of some body parts, weakness, back strains, sprains, or herniated disks. In severe cases, it can cause paralysis of the lower limbs.
Rear-end crashes can cause your head to hit the steering wheel, window, or the seat before you. The force of the hit can cause fractures in the skull and other traumatic brain injuries (TBI), such as concussions. Physical symptoms of TBI include headaches, fatigue, and dizziness. Other cognitive symptoms include memory loss, loss of consciousness, ringing in the ear, and sensory problems like blurred vision and sensitivity to light. Traumatic brain injuries are usually severe and can lead to long-term health issues and death.
Fractures and Rib Injuries
The impact of the collision can cause bone fractures in body parts like the wrists, hands, ankles, legs, knees, or even the hips. The symptoms of these injuries are usually obvious, like swelling of that body part, severe pain, and soreness of the skin in that affected area. In severe cases, the bones can be entirely crushed and require surgery to fix them.
What Should I Do After A Rear-End Collision?
After you’ve been rear-ended, try to remain calm. It will help you make the right decisions to protect your claim and reduce financial risk. Here are some actions to take after a rear-end collision:
- Seek medical treatment: Check for injuries, seek medical treatment, and get a doctor’s report. You should seek medical treatment even if you believe you were not injured or think your injuries are negligible. This is because some injuries may not present immediate symptoms. Having a doctor’s report will help prove your claim later on.
- Call 911: Call the police after a rear-end collision to report the accident. The police will investigate the accident and file an official police report. The police report is helpful when filing an insurance claim.
- Document the scene: Take photos or videos of the damage to the vehicles involved and any injuries you sustained. Also, remember to get an eyewitness account of the accident and their contact details.
- Get the driver’s details: Get the contact details, such as name, license plate number, and insurance information, of the other drivers involved in the collision.
- Don’t admit fault: Make sure you don’t admit responsibility or say anything that sounds like an admission of fault at the accident scene. The other party can twist and use something you said innocently against you in court. This can make it difficult to recover compensation.
- Contact your insurance provider: Call your insurance providers as soon as possible to report the rear-end collision. They will provide information on how to make an insurance claim and the required documents.
- Contact a lawyer: Speak with a car accident lawyer who can help you file an injury claim to get the compensation you deserve.
How Much Can I Get From A Rear-End Collision?
The amount of compensation you can recover from a rear-end collision lawsuit is not fixed. It depends on the extent of the injuries you sustained, the level of damage to your vehicle, and who was at fault for the accident.
If your case is successful, you can obtain compensation for the following:
- Medical bills, including the cost of doctor’s visits, x-rays, tests, and prescribed medications
- Costs for physical therapy to help heal a severe injury
- Cost of repairing or replacing your damaged vehicle and other personal properties
- Lost wages due to the injuries keeping you from working
- Loss of future earnings due to long-term or permanent disability
- Pain and suffering
An experienced car accident lawyer can help you prove your claim and get the compensation you deserve.
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration: Enhanced Rear Lighting and Signaling Systems: Literature Review and Analyses of Alternative System Concepts
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke: Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)
Mayo Clinic: Herniated Disk
Fix Auto: What Is a Fender Bender, and How to Handle One?