We often think of rear-end accidents as minor fender benders. However, rear-end accidents can be just as dangerous as head-on collisions. It is still possible to experience severe injuries from rear-end accidents. Here is everything you need to know about rear-end collisions.
What happens when you are rear-ended?
When you are rear-ended, your car is often unexpectedly jolted forward with significant force. Since you are sitting inside your vehicle, your body can be aggressively jolted forward as well. Unfortunately, our bodies are not designed to withstand such violent sudden forces and movements. This can cause strains to vulnerable body parts, such as your neck, back and shoulders.
Do airbags go off in a rear-end collision?
For the majority of stock cars, the answer is no. Most cars are equipped with sensors that detect when damage has been done to the front of the car and deploy the airbags from the dashboard. Unfortunately, this means that when your hit from behind, the sensors do no detect the impact and the airbags fail to deploy. In some cases, there are manufacturers that equip their vehicles with rear airbags, called rear-curtain airbags. These airbags are in place to help prevent injury for rear passengers in the event of a crash.
What kind of injuries can you get in a rear-end collision, and which are most common?
One of the most common injuries from rear-end collisions is whiplash, an injury of the neck from sudden, violent movements. When drivers are caught unaware, the severity of the injury can increase due to neck muscles being in a relaxed state instead of contracting, causing further damage through increased movement.
Whiplash is the most common injury from rear-end collisions. However, there are other injuries that can befall drivers in rear-end collisions:
- Back and Spine Injuries: These injuries are also very common in rear-end collisions. The force of a crash causes extreme stress on the vertebrae in the back, and can lead to slipped or collapsed discs, or a compression of the spine. These injuries can cause excruciating amounts of pain in the back. Spine injuries as a result of a back or head injury can cause nerve problems and even paralysis depending on the overall force of the impact.
- Head and Face Injuries: Although many drivers are aware of the possibility of whiplash from a collision, others do not think about the possibility of injury to their head and face. Due to the force of impact in a collision, many drivers and passengers hit their head or face on a hard surface inside the vehicle. This can cause bruising, lacerations, concussions, and other trauma. In some cases, deploying airbags have done so with enough force to break bones and even cause head trauma. Brain injuries can also occur in these types of accidents (concussions, for example). In the event of a brain injury, the patient can develop abnormal behavior and difficulty communicating, and left untreated could be permanently impaired or even die. Depending on the accident and where you were hit, these injuries can be very debilitating, cause facial disfigurement, and possibly lead to death.
Should I see a doctor if I get into a rear-end collision?
If you find yourself injured in a rear-end collision, or are concerned that you might be, it is in your best interest to visit a doctor, urgent care or emergency room. Many drivers do not notice symptoms from their accidents until hours or days afterwards, at which point their injuries could have become more severe. Only a qualified doctor can tell you whether your injury is worth worrying about.
Can you sue for rear-end collision?
Every rear-end accident is different. The facts of each accident dictate whether or not you have a viable lawsuit. This can be a murky subject to navigate, but a skilled lawyer can help guide you on how to proceed. If you have experienced injuries from a rear-end accident, you should consult a lawyer to see if a lawsuit is a good option for you.
How do insurance claims work in a rear-end collision?
Insurance claims essentially work the same for a rear-end accident as they do for any other accident. However, depending on the law of the state where the accident occurs, an insurance adjuster might handle your claim differently. In most states, whether a no-fault state or not, you can file a claim with the insurance carrier for the at-fault driver which allows you compensation for your damages. However, you may be limited to your carrier’s personal injury protection coverage for medical payments in no-fault states. This can be another tricky issue to navigate that often requires the advice of a qualified lawyer, and you should never hesitate to speak with an attorney who is able to answer your questions.
Rear-end accidents are just as serious as any other accident. If you’ve been rear-ended, and you’re worried that you have sustained injuries from that accident, call a personal injury attorney to talk about your case.
Stuart A. Carpey, who has been practicing as an attorney since 1987, focuses his practice on complex civil litigation which includes representing injured individuals in a vast array of personal injury cases.