11 Common Causes of Rear-End Collisions
Category: Car Accidents
Article by Tuley Law staff
Rear-end accidents are a common and sometimes devastating reality for drivers on the road. Did you know that nearly 28% of all auto collisions involve a rear-end accident, according to the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA)?
Rear-end accidents can range from minor inconveniences to causing life-altering injuries. In 2020, the NHTSA reported that 2,428 rear-end accidents resulted in fatalities, and 417,062 caused injuries.
While sometimes dismissed as mere fender benders, these accidents can have serious consequences. If you or someone you know has experienced a rear-end collision, it is crucial to seek legal advice. The attorneys at Tuley Law Office are here to guide you.
Indiana Rear-End Collision Laws
Drivers should maintain a safe distance from the car in front of them. Indiana law IC 9-21-8-14 says that no one should follow another vehicle more closely than is reasonable and prudent given the vehicles’ speed and the condition of the highway. Fault may be determined in part based on this statute.
In Indiana, the laws regarding rear-end collisions are specific. IC 9-21-8-15 outlines the rules for trucks pulling another vehicle or trailer. And there are even laws and rules for caravans and motorcades.
However, there are exceptions, and the fault is not always clear-cut. For instance, if the car in front suddenly reverses, the driver behind them may not be at fault.
Indiana utilizes a modified comparative fault system, which means you can recover damages if your degree of fault for the accident is less than 51%. However, courts will reduce your awarded damages by the percentage of fault. For example, if the courts determine that you’re 20% at fault and were initially entitled to $10,000 in damages, you would instead receive $8,000.
Comparative fault becomes crucial in rear-end collisions because both drivers may share responsibility for the accident. For example, suppose the leading vehicle had non-functioning brake lights. In that case, they might also be partially at fault for the collision.
What Happens in a Rear-End Collision?
In a rear-end collision, the rear vehicle’s front bumper strikes the leading vehicle’s back bumper. You might have extensive car damage depending on the speed and size of the vehicles involved. .
Additionally, the occupants of both vehicles may experience a sudden jolt (not to mention airbags may deploy), which can result in whiplash or other injuries.
After a rear-end collision, you should document the scene by taking photographs of the damage and the position of the vehicles for the insurance claim. You might also need to contact emergency services depending on the severity of your injuries. Finally, you should file a police report and contact an attorney to help you navigate the next steps.
Common Causes of Rear-End Collisions
There are several reasons why rear-end collisions happen. Understanding these common causes can help you prevent these accidents.
- Tailgating: Most rear-end collisions are caused by tailgating or following too closely. When drivers do not maintain a safe distance from the vehicle in front, they might not have enough time to react if the front vehicle suddenly stops or slows down.
- Distracted Driving: Using mobile phones, adjusting the radio, eating, or any other activity that takes the driver’s attention away from the road can cause a delayed reaction time. This distraction may result in the driver not noticing that the car in front has stopped or slowed down, ultimately leading to a rear-end collision.
- Heavy traffic: Cars often cluster closely together in congested traffic conditions. A sudden stop by one car can set off a chain reaction resulting in a pile-up of rear-end accidents.
- Speeding: Driving at high speeds reduces the driver’s ability to stop in time if the car in front brakes suddenly. The higher the speed, the longer the stopping distance, increasing the chances of a collision.
- The expectation of other drivers’ behavior: Sometimes, drivers expect the car in front to behave a certain way. For example, they might expect them to accelerate at a green light. When the car in front behaves differently, such as making a sudden stop, the following driver may be unprepared to react appropriately.
- Weather Conditions: The reduced traction caused by adverse weather conditions such as rain, snow, fog, or ice makes it harder for vehicles to stop promptly.
- Impaired Driving: Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs impairs a driver’s judgment and reaction times.
- Vehicle Issues: Mechanical problems like brake failure or worn-out tires can also cause rear-end accidents. Drivers need to maintain their vehicles to avoid these issues.
- Aggressive driving: Some drivers engage in aggressive driving behavior, such as weaving in and out of traffic, which can cause them to misjudge the distance or speed of the car in front of them.
- Sudden Stops: Sometimes, the driver in the front vehicle might make a sudden stop due to an emergency, an obstacle on the road, or indecisiveness. In these cases, if the driver behind is not maintaining a safe distance, they can cause a rear-end collision.
- Non-functioning Brake Lights: As mentioned earlier, if the car in front has non-functioning brake lights, the driver behind may not realize that the vehicle is slowing down or stopping, contributing to an accident.
What About Brake Checking?
“Brake checking” is a term that refers to aggressive driving behavior when a driver deliberately slams on their brakes to force the vehicle behind them to brake suddenly.
Drivers often engage in brake checking with two purposes in mind. One is to attempt to “teach a lesson” to the following driver, whom the brake checker believes is following too closely. The other is to engage in a malicious act of road rage. Brake checking is extremely dangerous and can lead to rear-end collisions, which can cause injuries and even fatalities.
Brake checking is more than just a sudden stop. It is an intentional act where a driver abruptly applies the brakes for no legitimate reason. Often, the goal is to startle the driver behind or cause them to collide with the rear of the brake-checking vehicle. This intentional act is different from a situation where a driver has to apply brakes suddenly to avoid an obstacle or due to traffic conditions. The distinguishing factor is the malicious or retaliatory intent behind the action.
Suppose there is evidence that the driver in front engaged in brake checking, such as dashcam footage or witness testimony. In that case, it might shift some or all liability onto them because the courts consider this aggressive and reckless driving behavior.
When Multiple Cars Are Involved in a Rear-End Collision
In the scenario where your car is rear-ended and pushed into the car in front of you, determining fault can be complex and depends on the specific circumstances of the accident.
When another vehicle rear-ends your car, causing it to be pushed into the car in front while your car is stationary or at a safe distance, you will typically find that the driver who rear-ended you will be held responsible for both collisions.
However, if you were following too closely to the car in front, or if there were other contributing factors like road conditions, weather, or aggressive driving, the fault may be shared among the involved parties.
Insurance companies involved will conduct their investigation to determine fault. They will examine the police report, the drivers’ statements, and any available evidence, such as photographs or videos.
Consulting an attorney familiar with Indiana’s traffic laws and regulations is highly recommended in complex accidents involving multiple vehicles. At Tuley Law office, our team will examine the police report, the drivers’ statements, and any available evidence, such as photographs or videos. Then, we’ll build a case and help you navigate all the legal hurdles.
Prevention and Safety Measures for Rear-End Collisions
Taking proactive steps to prevent rear-end collisions ensures your safety on the road.
The three-second rule is a good standard. Choose an object near the road, like a sign or tree. When the car ahead passes it, count “one thousand one, one thousand two, one thousand three.” If you pass the object before you finish counting, you’re following too closely. In adverse weather conditions, increase your following distance and reduce your speed.
Additionally, pay attention to the traffic ahead. Look beyond the car ahead of you to anticipate sudden stops or slowdowns. And always use your turn signals well in advance to inform other drivers of your intentions.
Finally, regularly check your vehicle’s brakes, tires, and lights. This practice ensures your car is in good condition. It minimizes the chances of rear-end collisions due to vehicle issues.
Potential Injuries and Compensation from a Rear-End Collision
Rear-end collisions, even at low speeds, can result in various injuries.
One of the most common car accident injuries in rear-end collisions is whiplash. Whiplash happens when the neck jerks back and forth, straining the muscles and ligaments. Many people often dismiss it as a minor injury. However, whiplash can lead to chronic pain and reduced mobility if not properly treated.
In addition to whiplash, victims of rear-end collisions can suffer from more severe injuries, including fractures, head injuries, and spinal cord damage.
Several factors come into play regarding compensation for rear-end collisions.
Medical expenses are often the most significant component of compensation claims. These expenses include the immediate medical bills and the cost of ongoing therapy, rehabilitation, and any necessary surgeries or medical equipment. In addition to medical expenses, victims may seek compensation for lost wages if they cannot work due to their injuries.
In some cases, compensation is also awarded for pain and suffering. This type of compensation aims to provide monetary relief for the physical pain and emotional distress the victim experienced due to the accident.
Another important aspect of compensation is property damage. A rear-end collision can cause significant damage to the vehicle, and compensation can cover repairing or replacing it.
Car Accident Legal Help – Tuley Law Office
Rear-end collisions are far more than just a bump on the road; they can be life-altering. While many circumstances can lead to rear-end accidents, like tailgating or sudden stops, the good news is you can avoid them by being a defensive and alert driver.
Although Indiana law typically holds the rear driver responsible for a rear-end collision, there can be exceptions and shared liability. Our expert car accident attorneys will assess the accident’s circumstances, gather evidence, and determine who is at fault.
And we’ll help you deal with insurance companies if they aim to minimize payouts. Our team will negotiate on your behalf, ensuring you receive fair compensation for your injuries, damages, and other losses.
Finally, having an experienced attorney by your side provides peace of mind, knowing that you have a dedicated professional advocating for your rights and working to secure the best possible outcome.
Let us help you navigate rear-end collision claims. Contact the experienced car accident lawyers at Tuley Law Office in Evansville, Indiana for a free consultation.
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