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Rear-End Collisions Are the Most Frequent Type of Collision

Neck Injury

Rear-end Accidents are Serious Incidents that can Cause Serious Injuries

According to a report from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, rear-end crashes are the most frequently occurring type of collision. About 29 percent of all car crashes are rear-end collisions. These crashes result in a substantial number of injuries and fatalities each year. If you were involved in a rear-end accident that was caused by a negligent driver, a Chicago car accident lawyer can help you to get compensation for your damages.

In fact, 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. However, 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 Is A Rear End Accident?

A rear end accident occurs when a driver hits the vehicle directly in front of them from behind. They often occur at a redlight, a stop sign, or in congested traffic. A majority of rear-end accidents happen at low speeds. But they can occur at high speeds on highways or other high-speed roads.

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

What Happens During a Rear-end Accident?

During a rear end accident, a vehicle is struck from behind by the front of another vehicle. 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.

There are a few 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 that 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. When a fast-moving car hits a stopped vehicle, the impact is usually significant.

In a situation where both cars are moving, like in a highway scenario, the impact can also be severe if one or both of the vehicles slides out because of the collision and begins to roll or runs 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.

[Learn more about Rear End Accidents Involving Semi Trucks]

What Are The Common Causes of Rear-end Collisions?

Rear end accidents are incredibly common. They make up a large portion of vehicle accidents in the US and total about 1.7 million each year

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

  • distracted driving
  • aggressive driving
  • hazardous weather conditions
  • drunk driving
  • driver fatigue

A report from the National Transportation Safety Board found that 87 percent of rear-end collisions happened because of a distracted driver. Driver distraction 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, or interacting with passengers.

In addition to distracted driving, there are some other common causes of rear end accidents:

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, including driving through heavy rain, icy roads, and standing water, can all interfere with safe driving cause rear end collisions when a driver does not properly account for them.

Drunk Driving

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

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

There are many ways that rear end accidents happen. Here are some 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 they collide with them.
  • 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 from 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.

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. In many cases, 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 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—especially for a driver. 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. But 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.

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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