A rear-end collision is a traffic accident wherein a vehicle crashes into the vehicle in front of it. In a rear-end accident, there is clearer evidence of fault than in any other type of auto accident. In most cases, the car that was hit was stopped at a stop light, at a stop sign or in traffic. Usually it is caused by tailgating or panic stops.
Rear-end collisions are unique from other auto accidents. In most accidents, the driver who is hit is either at a complete stop or only moving at a few miles per hour, with no or very little forward momentum. Often, the victim will see the oncoming car in the rear view mirror and expect the collision.
A typical medical consequence of rear-end collisions, even in case of collisions at moderate speed, is whiplash. In more sever cases permanent injuries may occur. The rearmost passenger passengers, especially in minivans, benefit little from the short rear crumple zone, so they are more likely to be injured or killed in a rear-end collision. Other types of injuries that can occur are:
- Soft tissue injuries – as stated above, whiplash; disc damage in the cervical vertebrae when the head is snapped forward then suddenly back.
- Carpal tunnel injury
- Ankle and knee injuries
- Head injuries often caused by airbag deployment
- Traumatic Brain Injury
For purposes of insurance and policing, the driver of the car that rear-ends the other car is almost always considered to be at fault due to not being within stopping distance or lack of attention. If the driver of the car that was rear-ended files a claim against the driver who hit him, said driver could be responsible for all damages to the other driver’s car.
A determination of fault, in any type of accident, is often very important to an injured party. In what are known as fault states, California included, an injured party will sue the driver they believe is at fault for the accident. Either the driver or the driver’s insurance company could be responsible for damages to the injured party’s car, as well as medical expenses and monetary pain and suffering damages. In rear-end situations, a lawsuit may not even be necessary since it is presumed that the rear-ending driver is at fault. An injured party can attempt to deal directly with the at-fault driver’s insurance company in an attempt to receive compensation for their injuries.
In 1999 more than 6 million motor vehicle accidents occurred on U.S. highways, killing over 41,000 people and injuring nearly 3.4 million others. Rear-end collisions accounted for almost one-third of these accidents (1.848 million) and 11.8 percent of multi-vehicle fatal accidents (1,923). Commercial vehicles were involved in 40 percent of these fatal rear-end collisions (770), even though commercial vehicles only comprised 3 percent of vehicles and 7 percent of miles traveled on the nation’s highways. Between 1993 and 1998, the percentage of rear-end collisions involving all vehicles increased by 19 percent. In 1999, 114 fatal accidents in work zones involved rear-end collisions. Of these, 71 collisions (62 percent) involved commercial vehicles.
California law presumes that it is every driver’s duty to not hit the car in front of him. For that reason, the car that actually does the “rear-ending” is usually found to be at fault in a rear end accident. However, like most legal doctrines, there are exceptions to the rule. For example, if the “rear-ended” car creates a dangerous hazard that is impossible to avoid, then the “rear-ending” car may not be legally responsible for the accident.
If you were involved in a rear end collision, a free case evaluation with an experienced Los Angeles personal injury attorney can help you to weigh all of your legal options. The attorneys at Grey Law have over 25 years experience in handling rear-end accident cases and can help you get the compensation you deserve. Call our office today at 323-857-9500.