Rear-End Collision: What Is it, What Causes it, and Who Is Liable?

Rear-end collisions are an all too frequent occurrence in the United States. According to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), in just 2012 alone, there were more than $1.7 million rear-end collisions on U.S. highways, which caused 500,000 injuries and more than 1,700 deaths. Rear-end collisions are also one of my most common types of car accidents and, in addition to the injuries and fatalities, cause millions of dollars in property damage each year. If you were injured in a rear-end car accident, understanding the various aspects of these types of crashes can be beneficial when weighing your legal options.

What Are Rear-End Collisions?

In a rear-end collision, the front bumper of one vehicle crashes into the back end of the vehicle in front of it. While this type of A White Car and a Silver Truck After a Rear-End Collisionaccident can be relatively minor when vehicles are traveling at slow speeds on residential streets, rear-end collisions can be quite dangerous when they occur on highways, where vehicles routinely travel at speeds of 55 mph or faster.

Rear-end collisions can be caused by a number of conditions and driving behaviors, including:

  • Distracted driving, such as using a cellphone or texting, eating or drinking, grooming oneself, having a conversation with passengers, or disciplining children in the back seat while piloting the vehicle
  • Drowsy driving
  • Driving under the influence of alcohol, illegal drugs, or prescription drugs that cause drowsiness
  • Inclement weather, such as rain, snow, ice, or slush on the road, or exceptionally windy or foggy conditions
  • Failure to control the vehicle
  • Speeding
  • Tailgating (following a vehicle too closely)
  • Construction zones where debris or commercial vehicles are on the road
  • Road problems, such as potholes, missing or obscured signage, or broken traffic signals
  • Failure to yield
  • Aggressive or careless driving

Common Rear-End Collision Injuries

Rear-end collisions cause an average of half a million injuries each year. Some of the most common injuries sustained in these types of accidents include:

  • Whiplash, also known as hyperflexion and hyperextension, is an injury that occurs when the neck and shoulders are forced to move well beyond their normal range, resulting in pain and stiffness.
  • Airbag-related face and head injuries, such as scrapes, cuts, and bruises, or a fractured nose, cheek or jawbone.
  • Back or spine injuries, such as herniated disks.
  • Seat belt-related injuries, such as skin lacerations or bruises.
  • Injuries to the hands or arms, such as sprains or broken bones.
  • Organ damage or internal bleeding.
  • Traumatic brain injuries.

The victims of rear-end collision car accidents who sustain these and other injuries can find themselves facing a great deal of unexpected medical debt.

Liability in Rear-End Collisions

In rear-end collisions, the car that crashes into the back end of the car driving in front of it is usually assumed to be liable for the property damage and injuries related to the accident. After all, motorists have an obligation to drive safely and many state laws specify that this includes leaving a suitable amount of space between their car and the vehicle in front of them.

However, there are rare occasions where the driver of the vehicle that was rear-ended is found to be liable for the accident, rather than the driver of the second, rear-ending vehicle. For example, the driver of the first vehicle may be liable for the accident if they reverse or stop suddenly, have non-functioning brake lights, or have a flat tire, but fail to turn on the vehicle's hazard lights and pull to the side of the road.

Were You Injured in an Accident?

If you were ended in a rear-end collision caused by another motorist's negligence, you may be able to pursue compensation for injuries and damages related to the accident, such as current and future medical bills related to injuries sustained in the crash, property damage to your vehicle, lost income if your injuries kept you from working, and pain and suffering.

Contact the knowledgeable and experienced personal injury attorneys with Packard Law Firm for a free evaluation of your case. Our skilled attorneys are standing by to answer your questions and talk you through your legal options.