Rear-end car accidents are one of the most prevalent forms of car accidents on the roadway today. Due to the flow of traffic and the structure of our roadways, we are often tasked with braking and coming to a complete stop in the middle of the roadway. This can occur at traffic lights, stop signs, or even when there is an obstruction in the roadway. Regardless of the location or manner, being at a complete stop in the roadway leaves the driver of the stopped vehicle vulnerable to drivers approaching their stopped vehicle. While modern technology and societal initiatives have sought to mitigate the risk of these accidents, the risk of being rear-ended on the road still exists.
Common Causes of Rear-End Collisions
While there are a wide array of factors that contribute to a rear-end accident, historically there is a group of common occurrences that cause this form of accident. Some of these include:
- Driver fatigue
- Snow or ice
- Roadway construction
- Obstructions in the roadway
- Inoperable brake lights
- Defective brake systems
- Slick conditions on the roadway
Each of these factors will change the trajectory of your case and the evidentiary threshold required to successfully proceed on your case. A rear-end accident case that is caused by driver fatigue will involve a completely different host of evidence than that of an accident caused by a defective brake system. Contacting an attorney soon after you’ve been injured in a rear-end accident is crucial to ensure the integrity of evidence preservation.
Due to the severe nature of a rear-end accident, the injuries that result can be catastrophic. The force of impact in a rear-end collision is oftentimes several magnitudes higher than that of another accident because often rear-end accidents involve a stopped vehicle. If a driver of a vehicle is rear-ended while their vehicle is completely motionless, their vehicle will absorb the entire force of the colliding vehicle at the speed that they are struck.
Common Injuries Resulting From Rear-End Accidents
The impact of a rear-end collision can cause a catastrophic force that thrusts the body of the driver in the stopped vehicle around the cabin. Even if all occupants of the stopped vehicle are wearing seatbelts, sometimes the force can be so great that it causes the inhabitants to be thrown forward and strike the windshield. Some common injuries that may result from a rear-end accident include:
- Neck pain due to “whiplash”
- Upper and lower back discomfort
- Herniated or slipped spinal discs
- Bone fracture
- Ligament damage
- Brain injury
- Persisting headaches
Proving Fault in a Rear-End Accident
A rear-end car accident presents a unique legal framework for any subsequent litigation arising from a resulting injury. Often times, there will be a presumption of liability to be imputed upon a driver that collides with the back of another vehicle. This is because as drivers, we are presumed to be driving in a manner that would provide ample time and distance to stop before colliding with another vehicle. However, there are many exceptions to this general presumption. A thorough evaluation must be conducted to ensure that all facts are properly examined and a sound conclusion as to liability is reached.
Steps to Take After a Rear-End Accident
1. Move Your Vehicle to a Safe Place and Attempt to Alert Oncoming Traffic
After you have been rear-ended, your vehicle will often still be in the roadway and in the flow of oncoming traffic. It is important that when possible you maneuver your vehicle out of the pathway of oncoming traffic. This will prevent subsequent risks such as further collisions after you have exited your vehicle. Activate your vehicle’s emergency flashers and use road flares in the roadway if you have them.
2. Keep Calm and Be Cautious of What You Say
Once your vehicle has been safely removed from the roadway, you will likely be able to make contact with the driver who has rear-ended you. Do your very best to remain calm, polite, and professional in your interactions. You must keep in mind that there is a chance that something you say to the other driver may be used against you in subsequent litigation, so it is best to keep the conversation short and focused on the exchange of information. Once you have obtained the driver’s insurance and contact information, thank them for their cooperation and then separate to contact the police.
3. Call Your Local Police Department
Depending on the jurisdiction of your car accident, and the injuries that are ascertainable, the police precinct that you call may or may not wish to send an officer out to investigate the crash and draft a report on site. If a police officer does report to the scene, be sure to give a comprehensive report of how the incident occurred. Also, ensure that you have conveyed to the officer any injuries that you feel you may have sustained as a result. If you require immediate treatment at the hospital, the officer may wait to speak with you at the hospital to obtain your report of what occurred.
4. Take Photos of the Vehicles, Crash Scene, and Your Injuries
Photos are crucial in any car accident case. They provide an incontrovertible vantage into what happened that day, and the damage depicted in the photos will be useful for anyone evaluating your case. Often where there is a dispute in how the accident occurred, photos of the vehicles will lend evidence to one side or another. It is also important to photograph your injuries in the days following an accident to have evidence of the damages that you seek compensation for.
5. Consider Medical Treatment
It is always best to be on the safe side after a car accident and get checked out by a medical professional. If you have not suffered a severe injury that requires transportation by ambulance, then you can drive yourself to the hospital to be evaluated. Often a driver that has been rear-ended will not be able to feel the physical symptoms of a car accident injury until long after the impact, so it is important to be proactive and attempt to detect any injuries sustained.
6. Contact an Attorney
Once you have safely removed yourself from any immediate danger, obtained clearance for your injuries, and made contact with the police department, your next step should be to contact an attorney immediately. You will want to do this as soon as possible in this process because there are many time-sensitive elements to a car accident case that must be handled correctly in the hours and days following a wreck.
7. Compile Your Records into an Organized File
All of the photos, notes, and records that accompany your case are crucial for successfully pursuing compensation for your damages. Once you have completed the above-listed steps, take some time to get all of your materials related to the wreck together, make copies of them if possible, and then organize them into a file. If you are able to digitize them, email this file to your attorney so that they may add it to their file and use it as necessary.
Why Hire Fletcher Law Office for a Rear-End Accident Case?
The attorneys at Fletcher Law Office, LLC have a wealth of experience in rear-end car accident cases that we employ in each and every case regardless of the size or severity of the case. Our law firm is well equipped to handle rear-end accident cases and the injuries that may have been sustained as a result. Contact Fletcher Law Office after an accident for a free consultation on your case. We will give it our full attention and evaluate your case with integrity and honesty.