Rear-End Collisions Are the Most Frequent Type of Collision

December 18, 2023 | David Abels
Rear-End Collisions Are the Most Frequent Type of Collision

Rear-end Accidents in Chicago Are Serious and can Cause Serious Injuries

Rear-end collisions are the most frequent type of collision. About 29 percent of all car crashes are rear-end collisions. Rear-end accidents are serious incidents that can cause serious injuries, including fatal injuries.

If you were involved in a rear-end accident caused by a negligent driver, a Chicago car accident lawyer can help you get compensation for your medical bills and other damages.

What Is a Rear-end Accident?

Rear End Accident Attorney Chicago

A rear-end accident occurs when a driver hits the vehicle directly in front of them from behind. These car accidents often occur at a red light, a stop sign, or in congested traffic.

The majority of rear-end accidents happen at low speeds. But they can occur at high speeds on highways, interstates, and other high-speed roads.

Rear-end accidents usually involve two cars. However, they can cause a chain reaction that involves other vehicles.

There are different ways a rear-end accident can occur:

  • The rear driver rolled forward at a low rate of speed into the front driver’s car.
  • The at-fault party was driving at a high rate of speed and crashed into a driver who was completely stopped.
  • The rear driver was traveling faster than the front driver and the two vehicles collided while they were both in motion.

The most devastating of these accidents is usually the last two. A fast-moving car can hit a stopped vehicle with significant force.

A severe impact can cause one or both vehicles to slide, roll, or run off the road.

Of course, if the rear vehicle is much larger than the front vehicle, the force will be considerable no matter how fast either vehicle is traveling.

Rear-End Accidents Involving Semi Trucks are especially severe.

Rear-End Accident Statistics

Roughly 1.7 million rear-end collisions take place in the United States each year. Of these nearly 2 million accidents, about 1,700 people die and another 500,000 are injured in the crashes. These numbers constitute a significant portion of highway accidents, injuries, and fatalities.

Taking into consideration the above statistics, it makes sense that rear-end collisions are taken so seriously by the medical and legal community.

So-called “fender benders” are also classified as rear-end collisions, so insurance companies will often use this misleading term to downplay these types of accidents.

What Happens During a Rear-end Accident?

Damage to the vehicle and injuries to the victim vary depending on how fast each car was traveling during the collision, the types of vehicles, and road conditions.

The Physical Impact on Occupants

The sudden jolt can cause occupants in both vehicles to move abruptly. In the front vehicle, passengers might be thrust backward against their seats.

In the rear vehicle, passengers might lurch forward. This movement can lead to a variety of injuries, the most common being whiplash, where the rapid back-and-forth motion causes neck strain.

What Are The Common Causes of Rear-end Collisions?

Some of the most common causes of rear-end accidents are:

  • Distracted driving
  • Aggressive driving
  • Hazardous weather conditions
  • Drunk driving
  • Driver fatigue

Here is a closer look at each type of rear-end hazard:

Distracted Driving

A report from the National Transportation Safety Board found that 87 percent of rear-end collisions happened because of a distracted driver.

Distracted driving is by far the leading cause of this type of crash, as a driver does not notice the vehicle in front of them in time to slow down or stop to avoid a collision.

Distractions can include using a phone while driving, eating, rubbernecking at accidents, checking a car's navigation systems, or interacting with passengers.

Aggressive Driving

Aggressive driving can include tailgating, speeding, following too closely, cutting in front of another vehicle too closely, or stopping suddenly. All of these behaviors can easily cause a rear-end collision.

Hazardous Weather Conditions

Winter weather conditions can involve driving through heavy rain, icy roads, and standing water—all of which can interfere with safe driving and lead to rear end collisions if a driver does not properly account for them.

Drunk Driving

Driving under the influence of alcohol or other intoxicants can affect the ability to drive safely, including the ability to avoid rear-end collisions.

It is illegal to operate a vehicle in Illinois if your blood alcohol content (BAC) is 0.08 percent or more. However, drivers can be convicted for driving under the influence with a lower BAC if their driving is impaired.

Driver Fatigue

Driving while fatigued can contribute to failures in judgment and inattention that can result in rear-end collisions.

All of these factors can play into a rear-end collision, whether you are on the receiving or delivering end.

It is important to be aware of these factors to ensure that you are not subject to any of these conditions, or any other conditions that might cause you to be involved in a rear-end accident.

Common Scenarios that Lead to Rear-end Accidents

The following are some common scenarios that lead to rear end accidents:

  • A driver is stopped at a red light and the driver behind them isn’t paying attention. The rear driver didn’t notice the light turned red or notice the car stopped in front of them. They continue driving at full speed through the intersection. Instead of proceeding through the intersection, they hit the stopped vehicle.
  • A driver is following another driver too closely. The driver in the front vehicle stops abruptly due to a road hazard (like a pothole or debris in the road). The tailgating car doesn’t have enough time to stop when the front car brakes and collides with it.
  • A driver on the highway is going too fast for the conditions and cannot stop in time for changing traffic conditions. This can happen when a car changes lanes, the car in front slows down, or the speeding driver isn't paying attention.
  • A person is too intoxicated to be driving and cannot properly judge distance or speed due to their impairment. The driver in front stops for some reason, and the drunk driver misjudges the distance or speed and collides with the front vehicle.

[Read: What to Do If You’ve Been Rear-Ended]

How Can I Avoid Causing a Rear-end Accident?

While there is little you can do to avoid being in a rear-end collision, you can take steps to avoid rear-ending another vehicle.

  • Follow the rules of the road
  • Avoid drowsy driving
  • Exercise caution during inclement weather
  • Minimize distractions while driving
  • Don’t tailgate or engage in other aggressive driving tactics
  • Don’t check your phone for any reason while driving, including texts, emails, or missed calls
  • Pick a playlist or podcast from your favorite app before you start driving
  • Avoid eating while driving
  • Pull over if you need to use your phone

All of these suggestions could save someone’s life. According to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) statistics, nearly 15,000 people die in rear end accidents caused by driver distraction. This means that 15,000 deaths could have been easily prevented by avoiding distractions while on the road.

What Are Common Injuries from Rear-end Crashes?

Some people believe that rear-end accidents are usually minor fender-benders. Surprisingly, serious injuries can result when one car rear-ends another.

Many people involved in rear-end accidents feel the effects of the crash for months or years afterward. The following are only some examples of injuries that can plague you after a rear-end crash:

Neck Injuries from a Rear-end Accident

The injury perhaps most commonly associated with rear-end accidents is whiplash. This can involve several types of injuries to the soft tissue in the neck, including straining of the tendons or ligaments. Soft tissue can also sustain sprains and tears.

Rear-end accidents can cause a person’s head to move violently. This often results in injuries that cause pain, stiffness, and limited neck movement. Many neck injuries require physical therapy and time away from usual activities or work.

Back Injuries from a Rear-end Accident

The back consists of many easily injured parts, including muscles, joints, and soft tissue. Because almost every type of movement involves the back, both upper and lower back injuries can be debilitating.

People with serious back injuries often must take a significant amount of time off work and have ongoing treatment to slowly recover. If physical therapy is not enough to resolve the pain and restrictions, back surgery may be needed.

Brain Injuries from a Rear-end Accident

Rear-end accident victims often hit their heads on different objects. Even if an airbag prevents head trauma from a steering wheel or windshield, people can hit their heads on the window or seat back.

In addition, just a sharp jolt of the head can cause damage to the brain. even with no direct contact. Many rear-end accidents result in some degree of concussion or more serious traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), which can have lasting cognitive and physical effects.

Spinal Injuries from a Rear-end Accident

The spinal cord is a vital part of the body that helps to facilitate movement, sensory capabilities, and organ functioning.

The spinal tissue is delicate and can easily be damaged if any discs are compressed or otherwise out of place.

Spinal cord injuries can cause temporary or permanent paralysis and may require hospitalization to stabilize and monitor the patient. Many spinal cord injury victims will live with disabilities for the rest of their lives.

Broken Bones from a Rear-end Accident

Many different bones can fracture in a rear-end accident. An airbag can break bones in the face, hands, or arms.

Legs and knees can also break from impact with the dashboard. Luckily some broken bones heal with only a few medical appointments and the passage of time.

However, others require extensive treatments and leave lasting effects. For example, some compound fractures can require multiple surgeries and long rest and recovery periods.

Even with significant treatment, some victims of compound fractures never regain their usual ranges of motion or remain pain-free.

Is the Tailgating Driver Always At Fault?

Most people assume that rear-end car accidents are always the fault of the driver who rear-ended the car in front of them. But this is not always the case. It is possible for the driver who was hit from behind to be at fault for the accident.

The front driver may be at fault if they:

  • Reverse suddenly into the vehicle behind them
  • Stop suddenly to make a turn but don’t execute their turn
  • Stop suddenly because of a distraction
  • Are driving drunk and perform an unpredictable maneuver
  • Have a broken brake light that cannot indicate to drivers behind that they are braking
  • Stop in the middle of the road because of mechanical failure but don’t turn on their hazard lights
  • Perform a so-called brake check out of road rage

Rear-end accidents can be disputed. However, an experienced car accident attorney can gather the proper evidence to prove who was actually at fault.

Rear-end Accidents Caused by “Brake Checking”

A common scenario that is brought up when discussing fault in rear-end collisions is brake checking.

A so-called “brake check” occurs when the front driver purposely and suddenly applies their brakes in response to the driver behind them following too closely.

The term comes from the person using their brakes to check if the person behind them is paying attention.

Brake checking is extremely dangerous and makes whoever does it liable for the accidents. If someone is following too closely, it does not give you the right to cause an accident.

Although the person tailgating may have contributed to the accident, your reckless act seriously complicates the issue of liability.

What Should I Do After a Rear-End Collision?

After a rear-end collision, it's essential to take specific steps to ensure your safety, gather necessary information, and protect your legal rights. Here's a comprehensive guide on what you should do after a rear-end collision:

  • Ensure Safety: Check for injuries: Assess yourself and others for injuries. If there are injuries, call emergency services immediately. Move to a safe location: If possible, move your vehicle to the side of the road to avoid blocking traffic and reduce the risk of further collisions.
  • Call the Police and Report the accident: Even if the collision seems minor, it's crucial to have an official police report for insurance and legal purposes. Cooperate with law enforcement: Provide accurate and honest information to the police officers. Avoid admitting fault, as fault determination is typically a legal matter.
  • Exchange Information: Exchange details: Collect information from the other driver(s), including names, addresses, phone numbers, insurance information, and vehicle details. Document the scene: Take pictures of the accident scene, including damage to vehicles, license plates, and any relevant road signs or signals.
  • Gather Witness Information: If there are witnesses, obtain their names and contact information. Witnesses can provide valuable statements about the accident.
  • Don't Admit Fault: Refrain from admitting fault or making statements that might be interpreted as an admission of guilt. Fault determination is a complex process and should be left to insurance companies and legal authorities.
  • Seek Medical Attention: Even if you don't immediately feel injured, it's advisable to seek medical attention. Injuries such as whiplash may not manifest symptoms immediately.
  • Contact Your Insurance Company: Report the accident to your insurance company as soon as possible. Provide them with accurate information about the incident.
  • Document the Incident: Keep a record: Maintain a file with all relevant documents, including the police report, medical records, and correspondence with insurance companies.
  • Be Cautious on Social Media: Avoid discussing the accident on social media. Insurance companies may use online information against you, so it's best to refrain from posting about the incident.
  • Follow-Up: Follow through with any medical treatments and keep your insurance company informed of your progress.
  • Consult with an Attorney: If you sustained injuries or there is a dispute about fault, consider consulting with a personal injury attorney. They can provide guidance on legal options and help protect your rights.

Remember, every accident is unique, and these steps may need to be adjusted based on the circumstances. It's essential to prioritize safety, gather information, and seek professional guidance if needed.

When to Contact an Experienced Car Accident Attorney After a Rear-End Crash

Since many people consider rear-end crashes minor events, they might feel like it is not necessary to seek legal help with the claim process.

However, because liability in rear-end crashes can be so complicated, you want the right car accident lawyer on the case as soon as possible. First, always get the medical attention you need.

Then, contact a law firm that handles car accident cases if:

  • You were the rear driver, but you believe the front driver was to blame
  • You suffered injuries that required medical care and/or required time away from work
  • You suffered any other losses due to the crash
  • Your child suffered injuries in the rear-end accident
  • You lost a close family member, such as a spouse, parent, or child, in the accident

While you already feel the stress of your injuries and losses, the last thing you need is added concerns about your legal claim or financial recovery.

Never try to fight with insurance companies on your own, as you might say something they can use to reduce or deny your payment. Instead, reach out to our team of car accident attorneys for the assistance you need.

Injured in a Rear-End Accident in the Chicago Area? Contact Abels & Annes Today

If you have been involved in a rear-end collision, whether you are the driver who rear-ended another vehicle or you are the driver of a rear-ended vehicle, you should consult a Chicago rear-end car accident lawyer to determine what your rights are under the circumstances of your accident.

The attorneys of Abels & Annes can assist in protecting your rights when you are involved in a rear-end auto accident. You can reach us at (312) 924-7575 or through our website.

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David Abels


David Abels has carved a niche for himself in the personal injury law sector, dedicating a substantial part of his career since 1997 to representing victims of various accidents. With a law practice that spans over two decades, his expertise has been consistently recognized within the legal community.

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