Many of us have experienced the sudden shock of a fender-bender but, luckily, have been able to walk away with no injuries and minimal damage to other vehicles. What many do not realize is just how catastrophic these accidents can become, especially if they involve a larger vehicle or occur at high speeds. Victims can be left with debilitating injuries that follow them for the rest of their lives if they are able to walk away from the accident at all.
How Rear-end Accidents Occur
Rear-end collisions are often the result of a driver’s negligence, however, who is to blame can vary depending on specific conditions. While you may assume that the rear driver is always to blame for a crash, the driver in front can also be responsible. For example, if a driver comes to a sudden stop on a freeway, swerves erratically, or changes lanes without checking their blind spot, they could cause a serious accident. In these instances, it is possible to find the driver in front liable for any injuries their negligent actions caused.
Because Massachusetts is a comparative negligence state, both drivers can be found partially at fault for an accident. That is, when evaluating a case, it is important to look at both driver’s actions leading up to the collision in order to determine if they committed some act of negligence, such as:
- Speeding, making it difficult to avoid a collision
- Sudden braking or driving below the speed limit
- Failing to check a blind spot
- Faulty brakes or accelerators
- Driving while intoxicated
- Driving while fatigued or drowsy
- Distracted driving, such as texting, making a phone call, adjusting a seat or radio, or eating
When you file a claim in a rear-end accident, your attorney will use any available evidence to demonstrate that the other driver is at fault for your injuries and shares the majority of liability. However, the insurance adjuster will do the same, arguing that whether you were in the front or the rear of the accident, you committed some form of negligence that caused your injuries. While comparative negligence laws primarily matter in jury trials, you will still want your case prepared as if you are going to trial and must prove fault before a jury.
This is especially important if you have suffered a serious injury that may require much-needed compensation after a rear-end accident.
Most Common Injuries in Rear-end Crashes
Despite common misconceptions about rear-end accidents, the collisions can be devastating for drivers and passengers. Roughly one-third of all rear-end collisions involve a reported injury and 7% of all accidents involve a fatality, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Depending on the weight of the vehicle involved and the speed the driver was traveling at, these injuries can follow the victim for years to come. For example, large vehicles like trucks, SUVs, or jeeps can easily crush and rollover smaller passenger vehicles during a rear-end crash, causing debilitating crush injuries.
Even between passenger vehicles, these collisions can cause serious trauma. During a crash, the force of the rear vehicle is absorbed by the vehicle in front of it. While the vehicle’s metal frame, seatbelts, and airbags are designed to minimize the risk of trauma, the bodies of the driver and passengers often absorb the majority of the accident’s force. In addition, if the collision is at an intersection, the vehicle could be pushed into oncoming traffic or into other stopped vehicles, leading to secondary injuries.
During a rear-end accident, drivers and passengers can suffer serious injuries like:
- Severe whiplash and soft-tissue damage
- Spinal cord injuries, ranging from slipped discs to paralysis
- Brain damage if a driver or passenger strikes their head on the car’s interior
- Neurological trauma, such as mood swings, due to head trauma
- Pinched nerves, often in the shoulder or neck
- Internal injuries near the seatbelt
- Complex fractures, especially along the ribs, arms, and legs
- Death, often due to a roof collapse
Any one of these injuries can come with costly medical bills, a significant amount of time away from work, and devastating physical and emotional pain. However, if your accident was caused by another driver, then you may be able to recover compensation from their liability policy. To do so, you will need to thoroughly review your injuries with a doctor, calculate the damages you have suffered, evaluate all available liability policies (including your own), and file a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company, all the while recovering from your injuries.
Instead of bearing these legal burdens on your own, let the team at DiBella Law Offices, P.C. Our Burlington car accident attorneys have been providing thorough legal representation to accident victims throughout the Boston, Methuen, and Burlington areas for more than 15 years. If you choose to work with us, we can handle every aspect of your case so that you can focus on getting back to a normal life. To schedule a free consultation, call our firm today at (781) 262-3338.