The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) defines a rear-end collision as one “In Which One Vehicle Collides With The Rear Of Another Vehicle.” Rear-end collisions are the most common automobile accidents, making up 28 percent of all collisions in the U.S. While they account for only 6 percent of all fatal crashes, they still can cause significant injuries that require medical treatment, even when impact occurs at moderate speeds. Considering the frequency of rear-end collisions, it’s not surprising that over half a million Americans are hurt in them each year. And even if a rear-end collision does not directly cause major damage or injury, a car that has been hit from the rear will sometimes roll forward into traffic, leading to a more severe crash.
If you’ve suffered injuries in a rear-end accident, you’ll need legal help to recover any compensation you may be due. The experienced Lakewood car accident lawyers at The Law Offices of Briggs & Briggs have built a track record of success in Washington and stand ready to discuss the merits of your case with you. Contact us at (253) 588-6696 today for a free consultation.
Causes of Rear-End Collisions
Most rear-end collisions are caused by some type of driver error. The most common causes are:
- Excessive speed
- Distracted driving (using a cell phone, eating, changing dashboard settings, etc.)
- Aggressive driving
- Drowsy driving
- Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs
- Poor driving conditions
- Mechanical failure
Fault in Rear-End Collisions
In Washington state, as in most of the country, the driver of the following car will usually be legally at fault in rear-end collisions due to negligence. While this is not always the case, the following driver is responsible for maintaining a safe distance. You must be prepared to prove they were negligent.
Under the law, everyone has an obligation to take reasonable care to prevent injury to those around them. You need to present evidence that the driver who hit you from behind was not taking reasonable care and that their lack of care caused your injuries. If you want to claim compensation, you must show documentation of the damage you suffered, including medical expenses and lost wages. Any claims of emotional trauma and pain and suffering must be documented as well.
Typical Injuries in Rear-End Collisions
When a vehicle is struck from behind, the driver and passengers, as well as any unsecured objects, are propelled backward into their seats. An unsuspecting occupants’ head will snap quickly backward and forward, often resulting in whiplash, a neck injury common in rear-end collisions.
While often limited to soft-tissue damage, whiplash may also involve intervertebral joints, discs, ligaments, and nerve roots. A simple whiplash injury is not permanent, and treatment normally involves rest, pain management with medication (over-the-counter or prescription), and application of hot or cold on the injured area. Occasionally, your doctor will prescribe a cervical collar or even physical therapy.
Common whiplash symptoms include:
- neck stiffness and pain
- tenderness in the shoulder, upper arms, or back
- loss of range of motion in the neck
Occasionally, whiplash victims may also suffer:
- tinnitus (ringing in the ears)
- blurred vision
- difficulty with memory or concentration
- sleep disturbances
Severe whiplash may also result in more serious injuries, including:
- concussion or other brain trauma (resulting from severe whiplash). Symptoms may include: amnesia, headaches, dizziness, nausea and vomiting, loss of balance or coordination, slurred speech
- spinal injuries (damaged vertebrae or spinal cord; ruptured disc)
- and less commonly, broken bones, internal injuries, or death.
If you experience any symptoms after a rear-end collision, see a doctor right away. A timely formal diagnosis by a physician is critical if you hope to receive compensation for your injuries at a later date.
What to Do After a Rear-End Collision
If you have been in a rear-end collision,
- be sure you have the other driver’s insurance information.
- let your insurance company know about the accident.
- document the accident scene with photos and, if possible, videos.
- collect contact information from witnesses.
- write out a detailed account of the accident.
- file an accident report with the police.
- contact a personal injury attorney with experience in car accident cases.
If you’ve been injured, you may need help with these tasks. If you do, choose someone you trust, and be cautious when it comes to discussing the accident. Do not post about it on social media, and do not speak with the other driver’s insurer. Your lawyer should handle that to ensure that you don’t accidentally compromise your case.
Seek Experienced Legal Help
Even a seemingly straightforward rear-end collision can be legally complicated. From gathering witness statements to negotiating with the other insurance carrier to filing all of the necessary paperwork, there are many steps in the process of pursuing compensation for car accident injuries. Knowledgeable, seasoned personal injury lawyers know the drill. They’ll work with you early on to formulate a strategy for success, and they’ll take on all the legal tasks, great and small, that are necessary for the most favorable resolution of your case. A good attorney will save you time, headaches, and frustration, and you’ll almost surely end up with a better outcome than you could achieve by yourself.
Contact the Personal Injury Lawyers at The Law Offices of Briggs & Briggs Today
When you’ve been hurt in a car accident, the last thing you need to be doing is handling an injury claim on your own. While you concentrate on your recovery, experienced rear-end accident attorneys, like ours at The Law Offices of Briggs & Briggs, will take care of communicating with insurance companies and conducting the claims process. We will vigorously pursue your interests so you can concentrate on healing from your injuries, and we’re committed to obtaining the best results possible for our clients.
With The Law Offices of Briggs & Briggs, you’ll receive superior legal representation from compassionate, experienced attorneys who will always put you first. If you’ve been rear-ended and suffered injuries in Lakewood, Olympia, Tacoma, Bremerton, Chehalis, or Puyallup, call us now at (253) 588-6696 for a free consultation.