Exploring the Legal Aspects of Rear-End Collision Injuries
December 8, 2021 | Car Accidents
Rear-end motor vehicle accidents typically occur because of a distracted or negligent driver. The at-fault driver might be watching a phone or otherwise not paying attention to the road. These accidents are also common at intersections where drivers go too fast for the road or weather conditions.
In St. Louis, rear-end motor vehicle accidents are widespread in the downtown area. They can also happen on busy federal roads, including U.S. Highways 40, 61, 50, and 67, as well as Interstates 45, 55, 64, 270, 255, and 70.
Rear-end collisions are also prevalent nationwide, according to statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
When one vehicle strikes the rear of another vehicle, the occupants of those vehicles can suffer severe injuries. Specifically, the driver and passengers of the front vehicle might move forward and backward or from side to side in an abrupt manner, causing sprain and strain injuries. Likewise, the impact force might cause the accident victim’s body to strike something in the vehicle. For example, the accident victim’s head might hit the headrest, door frame, window, steering wheel, or something else in the vehicle at the point of impact.
Victims of rear-end collisions might also need to undergo significant medical treatment for their injuries. After the accident, they may need to miss time from work so that they can recover fully.
If you suffered injuries in a rear-end motor vehicle accident that occurred in the St. Louis area, you need an experienced St. Louis car accident attorney to represent you. Your lawyer can determine your eligibility for filing a claim or lawsuit against the at-fault driver.
If you have a case, your lawyer will guide you through every step of the process and can negotiate with the at-fault driver’s insurance company on your behalf. Your attorney will do everything possible to maximize your monetary compensation and damages in the personal injury case that you file.
Injuries in a Rear-end Car Accident
A rear-end impact can lead to severe injuries and damages for both the driver and passenger of the front vehicle (the vehicle that receives the impact). The types of injuries that an accident victim will suffer typically depend upon the force of the collision and whether the accident victim’s body strikes something in the vehicle.
Here are some of the most common types of injuries that rear-end accident victims suffer:
- Traumatic head and brain injuries – In a rear-end car accident, traumatic head and brain injuries typically happen when the driver’s head strikes something in the vehicle at the point of impact, such as the headrest, the window, or the steering wheel. The force of this impact can cause the accident victim’s brain to move around inside his/her skull. This can disrupt the brain’s internal wiring and lead to serious complications. For example, the accident victim may suffer a headache or a concussion, which in turn can lead to short or long-term memory losses. In a more serious case, the accident victim may wind up comatose or become unable to care for himself/herself after the accident.
- Soft tissue injuries – A rear-end accident victim might also suffer soft tissue injuries in the collision. The abrupt movement of the head, neck, and upper back at the point of impact might cause the accident victim to suffer a muscular sprain/strain or contusion. At least in the short term, the accident victim may need to wear a neck or a back brace to recover from a soft tissue injury. The accident victim might require surgery or other medical procedure (such as an injection) to correct the condition and alleviate pain in the longer term.
- Broken bones (fractures) – A vehicle driver/passenger might also suffer a bone break or fracture in a rear-end collision. As with head and soft tissue injuries, bone breaks can occur when the accident victim’s body strikes something in the vehicle or turns the wrong way. For example, the force of the impact might cause a driver’s ankle to turn the wrong way, resulting in a break or hairline fracture.
- Back injuries – Likewise, a rear-end car accident victim can suffer a soft tissue back injury, a disc bulge, or a slipped disc usually because of abrupt backward and forward motion at the time of impact. In addition, if the impact forcefully ejects the accident victim from the vehicle, then he/she can suffer a spinal cord or paralysis injury. Some paralysis injuries are partial, and that they affect only the upper or the lower limbs. However, a full paralysis injury might affect all of the accident victim’s limbs and prohibit feeling and movement in those areas.
If you suffered any of these injuries in a rear-end motor vehicle accident that a negligent driver caused, you might be eligible to file a claim or lawsuit in a personal injury case. A St. Louis rear-end accident attorney can explain your legal rights to you and assist you with filing your claim typically with the at-fault driver’s insurance company. Your attorney can also help you pursue the compensation you deserve through a settlement, trial, or binding arbitration award.
Things to do after a Rear-end Collision
Rear-end motor vehicle accidents usually occur completely out of the blue. The front vehicle driver might not even see the rear vehicle approaching. Consequently, the front driver and passengers are usually unprepared for the accident. As soon as the accident happens, the driver should be sure to call 9-1-1 and summon a police officer and ambulance to the accident scene. In addition, both drivers should exchange contact and insurance information, even if they are not sure whether they sustained injuries in the collision.
When a police officer arrives at the scene, you should explain to him/her exactly what happened so that the officer can draft a police report. This police report is important because it will typically state who caused the accident and whether the at-fault driver received a traffic citation, such as for negligent or intoxicated driving.
As soon as possible after your accident, you should seek medical treatment for your injuries, preferably at a hospital emergency room, urgent care center, or with a primary care doctor. You should get this treatment even if you are not sure about the severity of your injuries. If you do not seek same-day medical treatment after your rear-end accident, a relatively minor injury can become much worse. In addition, if you do file a claim, the insurance company will likely become skeptical of your injuries if you wait too long to treat them. You should also follow through with any medical treatment that the hospital doctor recommends.
Finally, as soon as possible after a rear-end car accident, you should contact a St. Louis personal injury attorney about your case. Your attorney can begin gathering your medical records and other documentation so that after you finish your treatment, he or she can file a claim with the appropriate insurance company.
Potential Causes of Rear-end Accidents
Rear-end car accidents usually happen because one or more drivers engage in careless, reckless, or negligent driving maneuvers and behaviors. One common cause of rear-end accidents is a driver’s failure to follow the rules of the road. For example, a driver might be operating his or her vehicle too fast, especially for the weather conditions at that time.
For example, if a driver is operating his/her vehicle at a high rate of speed in the rain, the vehicle might hydroplane and collide with a vehicle in front. Overzealous drivers can also cause rear-end collisions on highways and other busy roadways. For example, the driver might switch lanes abruptly or without using a turn signal bringing about a rear-end impact.
At other times, rear-end accidents happen when a driver simply fails to pay attention to the road. The driver might be making a phone call without using a hands-free Bluetooth device or texting/chatting while trying to operate his/her vehicle simultaneously. Other potential distractions in a vehicle include loud music and even small children who might be roughhousing in the back seat. Even when a driver turns their head for a second or two, that can be enough time for a rear-end collision to happen.
Finally, rear-end collisions sometimes happen when a driver is intoxicated and under the influence of alcohol or drugs. In Missouri, drivers who operate their vehicles with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 percent or higher are, per se, legally intoxicated. Commercial drivers and drivers who are under 21 years of age must follow stricter standards.
When an intoxicated motor vehicle operator causes a rear-end collision, the criminal system can charge the at-fault driver accordingly and impose fines and other penalties upon conviction. In addition, the accident victim can bring a claim against the responsible driver’s insurance company, after which time the insurance company would have to pay the accident victim damages.
If you or a person you care about has suffered injuries in one of these types of rear-end collisions, having experienced legal counsel on your side is a must. A St. Louis rear-end car accident lawyer can help you determine the best way to file a claim in your case and the insurance company with whom to file the claim. Your attorney can then zealously advocate for your right to recover monetary compensation as part of your car accident case.
Right to Damages in a Rear-end Car Accident Case
Victims of a rear-end car crash often have to seek significant medical treatment for their injuries. They may need to attend medical appointments and physical therapy sessions, undergo surgery or other medical procedures, and even miss work time to attend these appointments. If you have suffered injuries in a rear-end motor vehicle accident that another driver negligently caused, you might be eligible to pursue monetary compensation and damages for those injuries.
The total and types of damages that you recover depend on the injuries you suffered, the severity of your injuries, and whether you suffered a permanent disability or injury.
First and foremost, after a motor vehicle accident involving a rear-end impact, you might be eligible to pursue compensation for your medical expenses. Sometimes, health insurance will step in and pay for some or all of the medical treatment you received. Even when this is the case, you can still be eligible to recover your medical expenses and other related damages. In addition to compensation for medical bills, you might be eligible to receive damages for your lost wages in the event you missed time away from work following your accident. Other out-of-pocket costs are compensable also.
In addition to these economic damages following a rear-end motor vehicle accident, you can also pursue noneconomic damages. These damages compensate injured accident victims for their inconvenience, as well as their pain and suffering following the collision. Accident victims might also seek compensation for emotional distress and mental anguish, which can result from posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) following their accident. Finally, victims can pursue compensation for loss of enjoyment of life or loss of the ability to use a particular body part in the event of a permanent injury or disability.
A knowledgeable and experienced St. Louis rear-end accident attorney will work hard to maximize the monetary compensation you are eligible to recover. Your attorney can do this by playing up the strengths of your case, downplaying any weaknesses, and zealously advocating for you when negotiating with insurance company adjusters.
If the insurance company refuses to compensate you fairly for your accident-related injuries, you always have the option of filing a lawsuit and litigating the case in court. Even though the case can still settle during litigation, your lawyer will prepare to try the case in court or at an alternative dispute resolution proceeding, such as binding arbitration.