In 2012, rear-end collisions accounted for 31.4% of all traffic injuries in the United States, or 594,000 people. These automobile accidents also caused over 2,400 fatalities.
What Happens in Rear-End Collisions
Rear-end collisions are the result of numerous poor driving habits that drivers have adopted. Distracted driving, excessive speed, tailgating, and aggressive driving all increase the likelihood of rear-end collisions.
In a rear-end collision, a vehicle in the rear collides with a vehicle in the front from behind. This frequently occurs because the vehicle in front is slowing down or has stopped, and the driver of the vehicle in back does not react quickly enough to prevent an accident.
The vehicle in the rear collides with the vehicle in front. The rear vehicle decelerates rapidly, while the front vehicle accelerates quickly. This transfer of momentum exposes all occupants to extreme force.
The occupants of the rear vehicle are thrown forward at the moment of impact and backward as the vehicle comes to a stop. The same force pushes the front vehicle’s occupants back into their seats and then forward against their seat belts.
A collision will involve a significant transfer of energy between the vehicles. The energy of a moving vehicle is dependent on its mass and velocity. The greater influence on the amount of energy created in an accident is exerted by speed. This is why even low-speed rear-end collisions can cause injuries.
However, weight also plays a part. Twenty to thirty times the weight of a passenger vehicle, a fully-loaded semi-truck can weigh up to 80,000 pounds. This is why accidents involving trucks and rear-end collisions can be so catastrophic.
Common Injuries from Rear-End Collisions
The back-and-forth force experienced by the body during a rear-end collision can cause neck and back strain. This stretching will strain the back and neck’s muscles, discs, and bones. The head can strike the steering wheel, headrest, dashboard, and windshield as it whips back and forth.
Among the injuries that can be caused by these forces are:
When the whipping motion of the head strains the neck muscles, whiplash occurs. Whiplash symptoms can extend beyond the neck. These symptoms may include neck pain and weakness, headache, shoulder pain, and arm numbness.
Rear-end collisions can also strain the back muscles in addition to the neck muscles.
Hands and legs may suffer fractures if they strike the steering wheel, dashboard, door, or centre console. As the head strikes the interior of the vehicle, facial bones and the skull may be fractured in rear-end collisions.
In the event of a rear-end collision, the seat belts will lock and the airbags may deploy. Seat belts and airbags can cause facial, chest, and rib injuries upon impact.
The discs can slip out of place, compress, or rupture as the neck and back compress and stretch. A slipped, herniated, or bulging disc can cause nerve pain when it presses on the spinal column’s nerves.
The spinal cord is responsible for transmitting nerve signals from the brain to the rest of the body. A spinal cord injury can result in nerve pain, muscle spasms, loss of muscle control, and paralysis.
Concussions can cause brain injuries by causing the brain to collide with the inner surface of the skull.
These injuries may be permanent. For example, there are no effective treatments for ruptured or herniated discs. Consequently, you may spend the rest of your life with pain and nerve damage caused by a disc injury.
Compensation for Injuries in Rear-End Collisions
New York utilises no-fault insurance. This means that you must file a claim with your insurance company for your auto accident injuries, regardless of who was at fault. In other words, New York law requires you to file a claim with your insurance provider even if you were not at fault for the collision.
Your primary challenge in dealing with your insurance company will be providing sufficient proof that the rear-end collision caused your injuries. You must also demonstrate that your doctor provided treatment that was medically necessary.
Lawsuits Against the At-Fault Driver
Under New York law, an injured person can bypass the no-fault insurance system and sue the driver who caused an accident if the injured person meets one of the following criteria:
- Had over $50,000 in fundamental economic losses or
- A person who has sustained a severe injury, such as the loss of a body part, a fracture, or the significant limitation of a body system or function.
When an injured person sues a driver for causing an accident, the person will prevail if they can demonstrate the driver’s negligence.
Proving Negligence in a Rear-End Collision
Negligence requires proof across four different elements:
- Every driver is required to drive with reasonable care.
- Drivers who fail to exercise reasonable care are in violation of this duty.
- Damages: The plaintiff must have suffered damages, such as an injury, in order to file a lawsuit.
- The breach of duty must be the proximate cause of the damages.
In a typical lawsuit involving a car accident, the jury will determine whether any driver failed to exercise reasonable care. The majority of rear-end collisions are caused by the rear vehicle’s driver. In most instances, this driver was travelling too closely or too quickly to react. Consequently, regardless of whether the driver of the rear vehicle was speeding, following too closely, distracted, or intoxicated, that driver is responsible for the resulting property damage and injuries.
In some instances, the driver of the vehicle in front is at fault. For instance, if the driver of the front vehicle cut off the driver of the rear vehicle, had broken brake lights, or failed to signal, it is likely that this driver is at fault for the rear-end collision.
Rear-end collisions can be devastating, especially if they result in injuries to the neck, back, head, or spinal cord. New York offers multiple avenues for recovering compensation for these injuries, ensuring that you will be able to pay your medical bills and replace lost wages.
Contact Our Personal Injury Law Firm
Contact Abrams Law Group for a free consultation if you’ve been hurt in an accident and require legal assistance.