Rear-end collisions make up some of the most common types of car accidents in the United States. Although the injuries sustained in these incidents are often mild if the crash occurred at a low rate of speed, in other cases, long-term neck, back and head injuries may take place.
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) reports that there are about 1.7 million rear-end accidents each year across the country, with these crashes leading to about 1,700 deaths and more than 500,000 injuries. The NTSB also found that up to 87 percent of rear-end collisions happened because of distracted driving.
When it comes to fault, the driver who hits another vehicle from behind is usually considered responsible. However, that’s not always the case—and there are some situations in which a rear-end accident could be the fault of the driver in front.
Establishing fault for rear-end collisions
Accident investigators, personal injury attorneys, insurance claims adjusters and court officials look at a variety of factors when determining fault for a rear-end accident. This includes reviewing police reports, reconstructing the accident scene, speaking with witnesses and determining if one or both drivers were violating the speed limit or any other traffic laws when the crash occurred.
The reason why the driver of the vehicle in the rear is often to blame for these accidents is because all motorists are expected to keep a safe distance between their cars and the vehicles in front of them. This is important to reduce the risk of a collision taking place.
The driver in front could be at fault, however, if that person’s negligence led to the crash. If that driver’s vehicle had burnt-out tail lights, for example, it may have been difficult for the motorist in the rear to determine that the vehicle was slowing down or stopping. Drivers who slam on the brakes for no reason may also be at fault if that action caused the car from behind to strike them.
Some cases related to rear-end collisions (like in South Carolina) may come down to the concept of comparative negligence, which means both parties are at least partially to blame for an accident. This doesn’t necessarily have to be a 50/50 split. If, for example, attorneys on both side agree that one driver was 70 percent responsible and the other 30 percent, the individual more at fault would need to provide compensation that aligns with his or her level of responsibility. In this scenario, this may include paying 70 percent of the medical bills for the motorist who was less at fault.
Dealing with injuries after a rear-end crash
Injuries frequently associated with rear-end accidents include whiplash, broken bones, concussions and damage to the neck and back. Even if you believe your crash was relatively minor, you should still see a doctor as soon as possible, as some injuries take time to show symptoms.
After a serious motor vehicle accident in North Carolina or South Carolina, you may need to seek compensation from a negligent party or an insurance company through a personal injury claim. For the guidance you need during this time, consult an experienced car accident attorney at Wallace Childers PLLC.