Maybe you were sitting at a stoplight or coming to a stop due to heavy traffic when, out of nowhere, a vehicle rams into the back of your car. Or perhaps you could see the vehicle speeding towards you, but there was nothing you could do to avoid the crash.
Rear-end accidents are the most common kind of car accident (accounting for 29% of all crashes). They are also terrifying experiences that often result in serious, life-changing injuries that can negatively impact a person’s life in a myriad of ways.
If you’ve suffered injuries as a result of a rear-end car accident, don’t put off talking to a rear-end accident lawyer for a free consultation about your legal rights.
Common Rear-End Accident Injuries
Rear-end collisions often occur while one car is stationary and the other is moving at high speeds. Because of this, accident victims have little time or opportunity to use their horns, take evasive actions, or brace themselves for impact.
The kinetic force of the rear-end impact is often enough to leave a person with painful neck and spinal injuries. If the crash is particularly severe or the person isn’t wearing their seatbelt, they may suffer other injuries caused by coming into contact with the steering wheel, airbag, or windshield.
Rear impacts increase the risk of whiplash injuries to the neck. In fact, it has been claimed that 85% of neck injuries caused by car accidents are due to rear-end collisions.
Rear-end accident victims may suffer hyperextension, facet joint impingement, muscle strains, and damaged cervical discs. Symptoms of a neck injury include:
- Headaches, usually starting at the base of the skull
- Increased pain when moving the neck
- Neck pain and stiffness
- Reduced range of motion in the neck
- Tenderness or pain that radiates into the shoulder, upper back, or arms
- Tingling or numbness in the arms
Most whiplash injuries to the neck tend to improve within a few weeks. Chronic pain is more likely if your symptoms after a wreck were intense/severe and the pain spread into your arms.
Having whiplash before, being older, and existing neck pain have all been linked to worse outcomes, especially if the neck injury is left untreated.
The violent momentum of rear-end crash causes the head to snap back and forth. This can create a cascade of injuries up and down the entire spine.
Some of the most common injuries resulting from a rear-end collision are bulging and herniated discs. Between each bone in your spine are gelatinous tissue called discs that act as flexible cushions. These can shift out of place or rupture due to a traumatic event like a car crash.
Such slipped discs can put pressure on the surrounding nerves and tissue, causing symptoms that include numbness, tingling, pain, and weakness in the arms and legs. If left untreated, the disc can degenerate and cause further problems.
Back injuries are common after rear-end collisions. During a car accident, the body unconsciously braces for impact, tightening muscles and ligaments. This instinctive reaction, unfortunately, means that the muscles are more easily strained or torn.
Back pain can be debilitating and can ruin a person’s quality of life. Many victims try to tough it out, but this will only lead to more pain and potentially permanent damage.
As concussion-detection technology has improved, it’s become clear that many people suffer mild traumatic brain injuries after a car accident. A concussion may be sustained due to the abrupt change in velocity during a collision, causing the front and back ends of the brain to smash into the skull.
This can leave a person feeling dizzy, disoriented, or nauseous. They may experience the following concussion symptoms after a rear-end crash immediately or days later:
- Anxiety or panic attacks
- Difficulty focusing
- Fatigue or excessive drowsiness
- Impaired coordination or balance
- Memory problems
- Mood swings and personality changes
- Sadness or depression
- Sensitivity to light or noise
- Sleep disorders
- Vision or hearing problems
If you are experiencing symptoms of a concussion, lost consciousness, had a seizure, or noticed any other unusual neurological issue after a rear-end collision, seek medical help immediately. Any delay in treatment could leave you with lifelong complications.
Delayed Symptoms After a Rear-End Collision
It’s common for some accident victims to experienced pain, migraines, and other issues days or weeks after a rear-end accident. Many wrongly believe that because their accident was minor or they didn’t feel any pain immediately after the crash, they are fine.
You should always seek treatment with a doctor and consult a lawyer after rear-end accident. A doctor can examine you for injuries and mark down in your medical file that you are visiting them because of a car accident. A lawyer can explain your rights and advise you on whether or not you should file a personal injury claim.
Do not sign anything from the insurance company or give a recorded statement unless you have covered all your bases, medically and legally.
Rear-End Accident Liability
Every driver has a duty to maintain a safe distance from vehicles ahead of them, taking into account traffic speed, terrain, weather conditions, and other factors. Drivers who fail in this duty are considered negligent. In most circumstances, the driver who impacts the rear-ended vehicle will be found at fault for the accident.
Common scenarios that lead to a rear-end accident include a driver…
- slamming into the back of another vehicle on the highway that is slowing down due to increased traffic congestion.
- failing to notice the vehicle ahead is using its turn signal and crashing into the rear bumper as the vehicle slows down to turn.
- attempting to speed through a yellow light and failing to anticipate that the vehicle ahead is stopping.
- assuming the vehicle in front will go as soon as the light turns green and accelerates into the back of the car.
- Not paying attention to the road and hitting a vehicle stopped at an intersection or construction zone.
In rare cases, the lead driver may be found at fault instead if the following actions or conditions are involved:
- Suddenly going into reverse
- Their back brake lights aren’t working properly
- Hits the brakes for no reason or brake checks the driver behind them
- The car experiences a mechanical problem but the driver doesn’t move the vehicle fully onto the shoulder of the road
How to Prove Negligence
To show a driver acted in a negligent manner, you must prove the driver violated their duty of care (e.g. following too closely, failing to yield, not paying attention to traffic speed, etc.) and that this violation was the direct cause of the accident.
Finally, you must establish that you suffered damages due to the crash. This can take the form of vehicle damage and car accident injuries. By establishing liability, you can then file for financial compensation from the at-fault driver’s insurance company.
Compensation for a Rear-End Accident
Rear-end accidents, even at low speeds, can leave a person in severe pain. Treatment may require dozens of doctor visits. Scans, medications, injections, and sometimes surgery may be necessary. All of this medical care can quickly start adding up.
The at-fault driver of the rear-end collision is responsible for paying the damages of the other driver. While you can file a personal injury claim to recover financial compensation for your car accident injuries on your own, this is an incredibly difficult process to deal with by yourself.
The insurance company may try to deny or delay your injury claim, but they shouldn’t get to decide what kind or how much medical care you deserve — you and your doctor should determine that.
For the best settlement outcomes, we recommend hiring an Atlanta personal injury lawyer to represent your case.
Next Steps After a Rear-End Crash
If you are dealing with rear-end collision injuries, even from a “minor” car accident, now is a great time to reach out to our legal experts for help. We can connect you with doctors who understand car accident and whiplash injuries and want the best recovery possible for you.
Don’t delay getting the medical and legal help you need after a crash. The sooner you begin the process, the sooner you can get relief from the pain.
If you suffered injuries to the neck, spine, back, or brain after a traffic accident, Gary Martin Hays & Associates is ready to help. We take on the insurance companies so you can focus on recovering and rehabilitation. We make the personal injury process simple and easy to understand.
Why be in pain a moment longer? Call us today at (770) 934-8000 for a free consultation regarding your rear-end accident and injuries.