Rear-end collisions are quite common in Clay County. They mostly result in head and neck injuries. Both the legal and medical communities take them very seriously, but insurance companies may downplay them and refer to them as ‘fender benders’ to gain profits. 

You can reach out to the Clay County Personal Injury Attorney if you have been involved in a rear-end collision. We will help you protect your legal rights, regardless of whether you were the one who rear-ended a motor vehicle or you were the driver of the rear-ended car.

We will also assist you in obtaining compensation for your injuries. We can file a claim on your behalf at your insurance company or institute a personal injury lawsuit to recover damages. Contact us to learn more about our services.

Rear-End Collision Statistics

According to the Washington Post, there are about 1.7 million rear-end crashes in the United States each year. About 500,000 people sustain injuries from these collisions, and around 17000 people die.

As per the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), rear-end collisions constitute 29% of the total number of car accidents in the United States. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) illustrates that rear-end collisions constitute almost half of the total two-vehicle accidents in the United States.

Causes of Rear-End Collisions 

You may be extremely cautious while driving, but still, be involved in a rear-end collision. Often, rear-end collisions happen due to the negligence of the at-fault driver. The most common causes of rear-end collisions include:

  1. Tailgating

Tailgating is prohibited in the state of Florida. As per Florida’s traffic laws, motorists should maintain a safe distance while following each other. This distance should allow at the very least, three seconds for stopping if the car in front stops suddenly. Motorists driving on dangerous roads and under bad weather and poor visibility should reserve for themselves more stopping time.

  1. Distracted Driving

Distracted driving is one of the most common causes of rear-end collisions. To prevent such accidents, Florida motorists should not engage in the following activities while driving:

  • Using mobile phones
  • Eating
  • Looking away from the road
  • Listening to music
  • Talking to passengers
  • Wearing makeup
  1. Intoxicated Driving

If a motor vehicle driver is under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or both, his/her reaction time and reflexes are significantly compromised. Intoxicated drivers may find it challenging to judge speed or distance accurately, and some of them may even nod off while behind the wheel. This will increase the risk of a rear-end collision. 

  1. Bad Weather

Rain, fog, snow, high winds, ice, and slush may cause poor visibility. The driver may be unable to see ahead, and he/she may unintentionally tailgate another motorist. Bad weather conditions can also make a motor vehicle driver fail to maintain the correct lane. This will result in a rear-end collision.

  1. Sudden Stops

A sudden stop may result in a rear-end crash. In such a situation, the victims may tend to blame the front driver who stopped abruptly for the crash. However, Florida courts recognize that motor vehicle drivers can stop suddenly for various reasons, such as poor road conditions, construction, police activity, or an accident ahead. Due to this, front-end drivers may not be held liable.

  1. Speeding

When an individual is driving at an excessive speed, he/she may not have enough time to stop or slow down when the motorist who is in front of him/her halts abruptly. This can cause a fatal rear-end collision.

Common Rear-End Collision Injuries

Each type of car accident, including rear-end collisions, has the potential for causing fatal injuries. Victims of rear-end crashes usually sustain various types of severe physical injuries. However, the most common types of injuries sustained in rear-end collisions include back and neck injuries.

How Back and Neck Injuries Occur

Depending on how the rear-end crash occurred, a neck or back injury may cause permanent disability and chronic pain. Although airbags and seatbelts may reduce the severity of bodily injuries, a person’s upper back and neck may still have to deal with the impact of the crash. When a rear-end collision occurs, the passengers’ bodies are forced to move back and forth in a quick manner. This motion, coupled with the body's constant friction with the seatback, creates a high risk of a neck or back injury.

Every human being has facet joints, whose primary role is to connect spinal vertebrae. Facet joints also enable you to become flexible so that you can easily twist or bend. When your neck and back moves back and forth in a rear-end collision, these facet joints will start colliding with each other. This will disrupt the natural structure of your spine, resulting in an injury.

Types of Neck and Back Injuries

Below, we analyze for you the most common types of neck and back injuries in a rear-end collision:

  1. Whiplash

Due to the back and forth movement of the head and neck, a victim may sustain a soft tissue injury within these parts. These soft tissue injuries may be either mild or severe.

  1. Spinal Fractures

 Spinal fractures mostly occur when the rear-end collision occurs due to speeding. The occupant’s head or torso may be tossed around, while the seat belt holds the lower part of his/her body. This may lead to compression fractures and other vertebral brakes. Sometimes, the vertebrae may be displaced, causing a condition referred to as Spondylolisthesis, where the nerves are compressed, resulting in numbness and pain.

  1. Herniated Discs

Herniated discs are also referred to as slipped discs. This type of injury occurs when the rear-end collision’s impact makes the discs that cushion the vertebrae to shift out of place. Just like spinal fractures, herniated discs may also result in numbness and pain.

  1. Spinal Cord Injuries

A victim of a rear-end collision can sustain spinal cord injuries, even if the crash occurred at extremely low speeds. Some spinal cord injuries may be mild, and they may eventually heal over time. But sometimes, your spinal cord may become severed, resulting in permanent partial or total paralysis.

Other Types of Bodily Injuries

Besides neck and back injuries, a victim may sustain other types of bodily injuries in a rear-end collision, such as:

  1. Head and Face Injuries

Head and face injuries can occur in rear-end collisions, even if the vehicles involved were below 20 miles per hour in speed. Your face may smash onto the steering wheel. The force of this impact may break your nose, detach your retina, and fracture your jawbones and cheeks. Sometimes, you may be lucky to end up with just minor bruises and cuts on your head and face.

  1. Arm and Hand Injuries

Both the motor vehicle driver and his/her passengers may sustain arm and hand injuries. Often, this type of injury occurs when the vehicle’s occupants are jerked around due to the force of the impact. Arm and hand injuries may also occur when the airbag explodes.

  1. Seatbelts

Seatbelts are safety features, and they should protect you from harm when an accident happens. On the contrary, they can cause physical injuries in a rear-end collision. When a rear-end crash occurs, your body may slam forward, aggressively hitting the seat belts. This may result in minor scrapes and bruising to your torso, neck, and shoulders.

Delayed Symptoms

You should quickly seek medical help after you have been involved in a rear-end collision, even if you believe that you have not been injured. This is because some symptoms of physical injuries may occur immediately, while others may manifest themselves after several days or even a couple of weeks.

It’s common for a rear-end collision victim to feel perfectly fine after the occurrence of the accident. However, you shouldn’t be mistaken and avoid medical treatment. You can opt to visit your doctor for a medical check-up to ascertain if you didn’t sustain any injury. Here are some examples of delayed symptoms of physical injuries after a rear-end collision:

  • Headaches
  • Numbness
  • Back pain
  • Shoulder and neck stiffness

You should consult a doctor if you start experiencing one or more of these symptoms. Often, these physical symptoms depict that you have a bodily injury. However, it is only a doctor who can know whether or not you have been injured, and the level and extent of the physical injury. This is why you must make an appointment with one, even if you have not experienced any of these delayed symptoms.

Recovering from Physical Injuries

You will require sufficient time for recovery and healing after you have sustained a severe bodily injury in a rear-end crash. The treatment that you will receive will vary depending on the type of injury you have sustained, and its level of severity, but may include:

  1. Wearing Braces

Your doctor may direct you to put on a back brace or neck brace. Braces help in stabilizing your body, and they quicken the recovery process too. They also assist in pain management because they prevent you from moving in a manner that can easily cause pain.

  1. Ice Packs and Heating Pads

Heating pads ease muscle tension, thus eliminating pain. If you experience swelling, your doctor can utilize ice packs to reduce it.

  1. Pain Medication

Sometimes, over-the-counter painkillers may fail to work. In such a situation, you may receive prescription pain medication. Your doctor will explain to you multiple options to reduce or eliminate pain, and assist you in choosing a method that can work perfectly for you.

  1. Physical Therapy

You may require the help of a physical therapist to enable your body to resume working normally. Often, back and neck injuries may reduce your flexibility and motion power. Thanks to physical therapy, you will be able to rebuild and strengthen your muscles and restore your motion and flexibility power.

  1. Chiropractic Care

Your main goal after you have been involved in a rear-end collision should be to recover. Sometimes, seeking the services of a chiropractor may help with recovery and pain management. However, you should first consult a personal injury attorney to know whether you will receive compensation for chiropractic care expenses. This is because some insurance providers categorize chiropractic care as alternative medicine, and they may refuse to cover for it.

Who Compensates Victims of Rear-End Collisions?

Victims of rear-end collisions should expect to receive compensation for their injuries and property damage. Florida is a no-fault state, so it isn’t a requirement for you to identify the party who is to blame for the accident. However, you can still institute a claim with the insurance company of the at-fault driver to repair your damaged car. Otherwise, your medical expenses will be taken care of by your auto-insurance medical cover, or your personal injury protection (PIP) coverage.

Sometimes, you can still sue the at-fault party for compensation if the total value of your damages exceeds the no-fault limit. You can consult a Florida personal injury attorney to know the best steps to take.

Personal Injury Lawsuits for Rear-End Collisions

When you reach out to a personal injury attorney, he/she will assess your situation and send a demand letter for settlement to your insurer. However, if the value for compensation is higher than what is specified by the no-fault limit, he/she will file a claim with the insurance company of the at-fault driver. As per Florida’s personal injury laws, it is only the victims who have suffered permanent scarring or significant damage whose claims fall outside the no-fault system.

When the insurance company receives the demand letter for settlement, it will make a settlement offer to your attorney. In turn, your attorney will respond to the insurer with a counteroffer. Sometimes, the insurance company and your attorney may agree on the settlement amount. In such a situation, you will receive compensation directly from the insurance company, and your case will be closed.

In situations where your attorney does not agree with the insurance company, he/she may institute a personal injury lawsuit. If your claim falls outside the no-fault limit, the court will require you to prove the liability of the at-fault party.

Which Party is Liable in a Rear-End Collision?

Often, the liable party in a rear-end collision is the driver who rear-ended another vehicle. The court will hold him/her at fault, and as a consequence, he/she will have to compensate the victims.

However, there are some rare instances where the driver of the rear-ended vehicle can be held to be at fault. In these instances, the court can hold the driver of the rear-ended vehicle fully or partially liable. These instances include:

  • Slamming on the brakes with no valid reason
  • Failing to repair a faulty vehicle part
  • Reversing suddenly
  • Not utilizing hazard lights
  • Driving a motor vehicle that has a mechanical problem

As a plaintiff, you can still recover damages even if you were partially responsible for causing the accident. As per Florida’s comparative negligence laws, the court will award you damages depending on the percentage the defendant contributed to the occurrence of the crash.

How to Prove your Claim

You will require evidence when filing a rear-end collision personal injury claim. Don’t just assume that everyone will believe that it is the driver who rear-ended you that caused the accident – even if it seems to be pretty obvious. The main goal of insurance companies is to make huge profits, and they can't realize this goal by issuing settlement checks without the validation of claims.

In Florida, motorists have a duty of care to exercise reasonable care and diligence when driving. They should be on the lookout for other road users, as well as obey traffic laws. They should also maintain their vehicles in a proper working condition.

A motorist will be held to have acted negligently if he/she violates his/her duty of care. A rear-end collision may occur if an individual drives while intoxicated, fails to repair his/her faulty brakes, or dozes off while on the wheel. All these are negligent acts.

For an insurance company or a Florida court to consider your claim as valid, you will have to provide proof of negligence of the at-fault driver. You will also need to provide evidence of the physical injuries you sustained in the crash, and any other loss you incurred.

Gathering Evidence

The standard of proof required in Florida personal injury lawsuits is ‘on the balance of probabilities.’ As the plaintiff in a rear-end accident lawsuit, you must satisfy the court that it is more likely than not that the defendant was liable, and the crash made you incur certain losses and sustain severe injuries. Generally, the more pieces of evidence you may have, the higher your chances of winning or receiving compensation. Let’s analyze some examples of evidence that are essential in proving your claim:

  1. Photographs

Utilize your phone to take videos and photos of the car accident scene. Take pictures of all the vehicles involved and the surrounding areas, and from as many angles as possible. Take wide shots and close-ups to include stoplights, traffic signs, or any other piece of essential information at the scene.

If a law enforcement officer is subjecting the other motor vehicle driver to a BAC chemical breath test or field sobriety test, you should record how the test was carried out and the driver’s performance using your cell phone’s video app. Also, photograph any possible evidence that may link him/her to intoxicated driving, including the presence of alcoholic containers.

  1. Witness Statements

Talk to eyewitnesses of the car accident scene. Make sure you list down their names and contact details. You can also politely request them to write down what they have seen and heard. Or rather, you can ask them for permission to record their views about the crash.

  1. Detailed Notes

Jot down what had happened before, during, and after the crash. You should include any self-incriminating statement that the other motor vehicle said, such as; ‘My brakes are faulty’ or ‘I was using my cell phone.’ The court considers such statements as admissions for liability, thus essential in proving your claim.

  1. Police Report

You should call 911 when you have been involved in a rear-end collision. Inform the dispatcher where you are, if any person has been injured, and whether there are dangers or traffic problems at the accident scene. In a busy jurisdiction, law enforcement may fail to respond if the accident is minor and no person has been injured. But, you will have gotten proof to show the court or the insurance company that you contacted the police.

If the law enforcement responds and an investigating officer arrives at the scene, he/she will gather crucial evidence as well as prepare an official police accident report. You can request a copy of this report. The report will indicate the findings of the investigating officer, including who caused the crash and how it occurred.

  1. Medical Records

For you to prove the degree and extent of your injuries, you must show the court or the insurance company your medical bills and records. If you sustained a whiplash, you would need proper documentation from a trustworthy and reliable doctor, because insurers are always suspicious of soft-tissue injuries.

Avoid ‘personal injury’ doctors, who may increase your bills with repeated treatments and unnecessary tests. You may be stuck with these bills. Also, you should first consult an attorney if you believe you require the services of a chiropractor. This is because most insurance companies are reluctant to pay up for chiropractic care expenses.

Take photos of your physical injuries immediately after the accident, and during recovery. You can also keep a journal and use it to record how these bodily injuries affected your day-to-day life.

Find a Clay County Personal Injury Attorney Near Me

Your compensation should cover your medical bills, lost wages, and non-economic losses such as mental anguish and pain and suffering. Generally, adjusters for insurance companies are well-trained to settle complex, personal injury claims with the least amount of money as possible. They do not care what this means to you or your loved ones.

Don’t put your financial freedom at risk by attempting to file rear-end collision claims by yourself. We at the Clay County Personal Injury Attorney are here to help you. Call us today at 904-494-8242 for a free case evaluation.