Car accidents happen all the time. In the United States, a car accident happens, on average, every 3 seconds. Someone gets injured from a car accident every 15 seconds. And someone dies from a car accident every 15 minutes. Of all these, rear-end collisions make up about one-third of all accidents. In other words, a rear-end collision happens, on average, every 9 to 10 seconds.
Many rear-end accidents do not involve an injury. Many are innocuous "fender-benders," which may leave only a small dent or, with modern bumpers, sometimes not even a scratch on a vehicle. These types of minor accidents often occur in stop-and-go traffic, or at a stoplight, or in parking lots. Others, however, are more serious--particularly rear-end collisions that occur at high speeds. These types of accidents can cause serious and debilitating injuries.One of the Most Common Injuries from a Rear-End Collision is Whiplash
Rear-end collisions can lead to many kinds of injuries, including concussions, broken bones, and herniated discs. But the classic rear-end injury is whiplash.
When a person is hit from behind, the vehicle they are in accelerates forward rapidly. As the seat of the vehicle pushes forward, the seat occupant's head often snaps back, usually because few drivers (and not all passengers) travel or sit resting their heads against the headrest. After the head initially snaps back, it can also snap forward again as the vehicle comes to rest. This unnatural "whipping" motion at the neck--in either direction--can result in the spinal injury known as whiplash.
While many stories have been told about the victims of rear-end collisions faking or exaggerating a whiplash injury to collect insurance money, for anyone who has suffered from whiplash, the injury is far from superficial. And contrary to popular belief, a person can sustain a serious whiplash injury even when the speed of the impact was relatively low, and the damage to the car seems minimal. How hard or fast the vehicle is hit are not the essential factors in determining the severity of a whiplash injury; instead, the relevant issue is how extensive and violent the neck movement is with respect to the rest of the body.
The symptoms of whiplash are not always immediately apparent to a car accident victim. Symptoms may appear immediately, or they may appear hours or even a full day later. These can include:
- Neck pain;
- Shoulder pain;
- Shooting pains down the arms, or across the neck and shoulders;
- Muscle spasms;
- Ringing in the ears;
- Shoulder pain;
- Trouble sleeping;
- Difficulty remembering or concentrating;
- Impaired vision;
- Weakness; or
- Loss of function in lower limbs.
Not every whiplash victim suffers all or even a majority of these symptoms. As a general rule, however, the more severe the whiplash, the sooner the symptoms will manifest themselves, and the more likely it is that the victim will suffer multiple symptoms. Consequently, it is critical that both driver and passengers who have been in a vehicle that is hit from behind seek immediate medical help following a rear-end collision. Even more, they need to be aware that whiplash will not show up in an X-ray, but may require a CT scan or an MRI.Drivers Can Take Steps to Avoid the Most Serious Injuries from Rear-End Collisions
While not all rear-end collisions can be prevented, there are steps drivers can take to prevent many of the injuries that can occur as a result of rear-end collisions.
For example, modern vehicles must conform to federal headrest and seat design standards that are specifically aimed at reducing the risk of whiplash and other spinal or head injuries. Seats and headrests are not intended primarily for driver or passenger comfort, but to try to keep the head moving with the rest of the body in the event of an impact, and to protect the spine from compression and the head from damage in the event of a rollover. But in order to perform these functions properly, drivers and passengers need to adjust their headrests properly so that they will, in fact, serve these protective functions when an accident happens.
In addition, drivers and passengers should always wear seatbelts, and younger passengers should use car seats, booster seats, or other devices, such as seatbelt clips, that are appropriate for their size and age. Drivers should always adjust their rear- and side-view mirrors correctly, and frequently check them, so that they are aware of what is going on behind and to the side of them when driving, and even when stopping or when parked.
However, even the most careful drivers cannot always avoid accidents or injuries, particularly when it comes to rear-end collisions. Nearly all rear-end collisions are caused by the driver who is behind. It may be an intoxicated driver who is unable to react in time to apply his brakes; a tailgating driver; a speeding driver who miscalculates his braking distance or who decides to "make the light" even when the driver in front has already applied his brakes; or a driver who lets herself get distracted with a cell-phone, a text message, a hamburger, or noisy children. If you have been the victim of a rear-end collision, chances are that the driver who caused the accident is liable for negligence.The Car Accident Attorneys at Abels & Annes Can Help Rear-End Collision Victims Recover Damages
If you have been injured, or someone you love has been injured or killed in a rear-end collision, the personal injury attorneys at Abels & Annes can help you. Whatever injury or damage you may have suffered, our experienced team of attorneys has the experience and knowledge necessary to make sure you recover all the damages to which you may be entitled. We can help you sift through the confusing and endless stream of insurance paperwork, medical bills, disability forms, and other issues that can overwhelm you, particularly when you are trying to focus on recovery and on dealing with the stresses and strains of a disrupted life.
With a simple toll-free telephone call, the rear-end collision attorneys at Abels & Annes will be happy to give you a free consultation. We can answer your questions and provide you the information you need to determine how to proceed in order to obtain recovery.
If you are the victim of a rear-end collision, contact Abels & Annes at (855) LAW-CHICAGO or locally in Chicago at (312) 924-7575, or use the online form here on this website. If we agree to represent you, there are no hidden costs, and you will not pay a dime unless you recover damages either through a lawsuit or an out-of-court settlement. Call Abels & Annes today and find out how we can help you to get your life back on track.