Rear-End Collisions & Catastrophic Injuries
Rear-end collisions are incredibly common in the United States. In fact, data collected by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) shows that there are 2.5 million rear-end accidents in the United States each year. Despite how common these accidents are, many people mistakenly associate “rear-end collisions” with minor fender benders and exaggerated neck injuries. They underestimate the physical hardships, financial losses, and legal struggles that tend to accompany rear-end crashes and other so-called “minor” collisions.
What Is a Rear-End Collision?
A rear-end crash usually occurs when a driver is following too closely or speeding faster than the car directly in front of them. That said, a majority of these accidents are caused by distracted, reckless, fatigued, or intoxicated motorists. Distracted driving, in particular, is responsible for 87% of all rear-end crashes in the country.
Other causes of rear-end collisions include, but are not limited to:
- Heavy traffic
- Road rage
- Work-zone confusion
Which Catastrophic Injuries Are Associated with Rear-End Collisions?
Despite popular (and misguided) opinion, rear-end collisions leave the head, neck, spine, and shoulders vulnerable to significant and even catastrophic injuries. As a legal term, a “catastrophic injury” constitutes any physical or cognitive injury that prevents an accident survivor from holding gainful employment. This person may require expensive medical treatments, surgeries, and ongoing rehabilitation programs just to maintain a modicum of their former lifestyle. Sadly, the survivor’s body may continue deteriorating from the point of injury, leading to disc or joint degeneration, osteoarthritis, and other debilitating medical conditions.
A survivor can sustain the following catastrophic injuries during a rear-end collision:
- Traumatic brain injuries (TBI)
- Head injuries
- Neck injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Internal injuries
Unfortunately, many accident victims tend to downplay their aches and pains because “it was just a minor collision.” Please do not give in to this incredibly dangerous and harmful mindset. It can take weeks for some injuries – including severe head and neck injuries – to develop perceivable symptoms, and the soreness you feel after a rear-end collision could be the first sign of a life-changing injury. For this reason, you need to seek immediate medical attention after a rear-end crash, even if you aren’t certain that you’ve been injured. A medical professional can run tests, identify your injuries, and develop a treatment program that mitigates any pain and preventable side effects.
Who Is “At-Fault” for a Rear-End Crash?
Another popular misconception about rear-end collisions is that the outcome of a personal injury case is a foregone conclusion: a driver rear-ended another vehicle and is therefore responsible for the victim’s injuries and financial losses. However, personal injury is a very nuanced legal field, particularly in Florida, and compensation is not guaranteed. To obtain a beneficial settlement or verdict, an accident survivor needs to retain legal representation before filing a claim or negotiating with claims adjusters.
A lawyer needs to prove 4 crucial facts to secure a favorable case result:
- The defendant owed a duty of care to the plaintiff.
- The defendant breached this duty while operating a motor vehicle.
- The act of negligence resulted in a rear-end collision.
- The plaintiff subsequently suffered bodily harm, property damage, and/or financial losses.
Drivers in Florida have a legal obligation to practice safe driving habits that reflect state and federal traffic laws. For example, there should always be enough space between two vehicles to prevent the occurrence of a rear-end crash.
A defendant can breach their duty of care by:
- Failing to pay attention to the road.
- Failing to follow another vehicle at a safe distance.
- Failing to drive at a reasonable speed.
- Failing to maintain control of a vehicle.
- Failing to slow down and stop before impact.
- Failing to yield the right of way.
Navigating Insurance Company Disputes
So, where did all these misconceptions about rear-end collisions originate from? The answer, unsurprisingly, is insurance companies. These businesses often dispute claims involving rear-end crashes to save money, especially if a survivor’s symptoms include whiplash and other neck injuries. It’s not unusual for a claims adjuster to manipulate the narrative of an accident or trick a claimant into accepting a substandard settlement.
A personal injury attorney is your best defense against these machinations. At The Pittman Firm, P.A., our legal team can investigate your case, calculate the true value of your claim, and negotiate a settlement that reflects your existing and projected financial losses. If necessary, we can even take your case to court and litigate for a substantial verdict that maintains your prior standard of living.
Explore Your Legal Options by Scheduling a Free Consultation Today
Contact the auto accident lawyers at The Pittman Firm, P.A. if you or a loved one has been rear-ended by a distracted or reckless driver. Our legal team has over 30 years of experience and the resources to help you recover monetary damages that provide for your medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more.
Call The Pittman Firm, P.A. at (850) 784-6997 to dicuss your legal options with an experienced car accident attorney.