What Are the Rights of Victims in Rear-end Accidents?
When Chicagoans think of “tailgating,” they likely think of gearing up before a Bears or Blackhawks game. However, tailgating is also a common term for following another vehicle too closely on the road. Often, following another car too closely is something a driver does when they are impatient or even aggressive. Anyone Chicago car accident lawyer knows this can lead to rear end accidents.
No matter why people tailgate, it is still a dangerous, unacceptable, and illegal behavior. Whether someone is following someone too closely because they are distracted or intimidating another driver, this behavior causes thousands of accidents each year. Specifically, tailgating frequently causes rear-end collisions. According to the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT), in one recent year the Prairie State saw:
- 90,955 rear-end crashes
- 19,722 motorist injuries from rear-end crashes
- 1,775 motorists with incapacitating injuries
- 61 fatalities
That year an average of 54 people in Illinois suffered injuries in rear-end collisions each day. That means there is a good chance that it can happen to you when you least expect it. If you do sustain injuries, the attorneys of Abels & Annes are here to help. We regularly speak with accident victims and evaluate their rights under Illinois law. We know how to handle cases involving tailgating drivers. Further, our attorneys work tirelessly to protect your rights and hold dangerous drivers liable for your losses. Please feel free to contact our office for a free consultation today.
What are Illinois Laws About Following Too Closely?
Even though many drivers in Chicago tailgate on a daily basis, the law in Illinois strictly prohibits following another vehicle too closely. 625 ILCS 5/11 - 7/10 states that no driver should follow another vehicle “more closely than is reasonable and prudent.” The law requires drivers to take current traffic conditions into consideration, as well as the speed of the vehicles around them.
IDOT provides an additional tip on how drivers should judge whether they are following too closely or not, which is known as the “three-second rule.” You should stay at least three seconds behind the vehicle in front of you, which varies the distance depending on your speed. IDOT gives the following guidance:
- 25 miles per hour - 111 feet
- 35 miles per hour - 156 feet
- 45 miles per hour - 198 feet
- 55 miles per hour - 243 feet
- 65 miles per hour - 288 feet
- 70 miles per hour - 309 feet
While it is difficult to make an exact measurement while driving, all drivers should use their judgment when it comes to how close they are following another vehicle. Also, drivers should never use tailgating as a tactic to intimidate other drivers.
What are Common Injuries from Rear-end Crashes?
When drivers are tailgating, they run the risk of slamming into the back of the vehicle in front of them with tremendous force - a type of accident commonly known as a “rear-end” collision. These accidents have the potential to cause serious injuries, including the following:
Whiplash is a non-medical term that is commonly used to refer to soft tissue injuries to the neck and shoulders. It can occur when the head snaps back and forth on the neck, much like the action of a cracking whip. Typically, the medical cause of whiplash includes sprains, strains, or tears to the ligaments and tendons in the neck. These types of injuries can cause significant pain, stiffness, headaches, dizziness, and fatigue. This all has the potential to interfere with your daily life. While many instances of whiplash resolve in a matter of weeks, some victims can develop chronic problems that last for weeks or months.
It is common for accident victims to later learn that they have a disc herniation after a tailgating accident. This can be a more serious injury requiring injections and in some cases surgery.
In many rear-end crashes, the sudden jolt forward causes occupants of the front vehicle to slam against the back of their seat and then forward into the space in front of them. They may hit the steering wheel, dashboard, or the back of a seat. This can often result in broken bones in the face, hands, arms, or legs, all of which can require intensive medical treatment.
Traumatic Brain Injuries
The forces involved in rear-end accidents can often result in head trauma to vehicle occupants. In cases where the head trauma is sufficient to cause the brain to move and hit the inside of the skull, it can result in a traumatic brain injury (TBI).
The most common form of mild TBI is a concussion. This itself is a serious matter that can result in complications like headaches, sensitivity to light and sound, dizziness, and cognitive problems. The symptoms can last for weeks or even months. More serious TBIs have the potential to leave victims with lifelong problems that may require round-the-clock medical care.
All of these injuries can result in extensive losses. Further, you have the right to hold an aggressive tailgating driver liable for your:
- medical bills
- lost wages
- pain and suffering
- and any additional losses
Should You Contact a Tailgating Accident Attorney in Chicago?
An accident caused by a tailgating driver can leave you with serious injuries. The crash can negatively affect your quality of life and ability to work or go to school. Fortunately, people who are injured by drivers who were following too closely can recover compensation for their losses under Illinois law.
At Abels & Annes, we are committed to representing the rights of individuals who have been injured in serious accidents. We will review the facts of your case at no cost to you. Our lawyers will let you know whether we believe that you have a legal claim.
If you choose our team to represent you, we will fight hard to get you the compensation to which you are entitled. Further, we only charge legal fees if there is a successful recovery of compensation on your behalf. For a free consultation with a Chicago tailgating accident lawyer, please call our office today at 312-924-7575. Or, send us an email through our online contact form.