A rear-end collision is a type of accident which occurs when one vehicle strikes, or collides, into the back of another vehicle. This often occurs when one vehicle is stopped at an intersection and another car approaches too quickly.
A rear-end collision may also occur when two vehicles are in motion and the lead vehicle stops suddenly, which may occur when the rear driver is following too closely to the front vehicle. This may result in a chain reaction car accident, which occurs when the vehicles following the secondary vehicle crash into the secondary vehicle due to being unable to stop in time.
What are Pileup Accidents?
A pileup accident, or a multi-vehicle accident, is a highway accident which involves many vehicles crashing into one another in succession. It typically begins with one vehicle crashing into the vehicle in front of it in a rear-end collision, which causes the vehicles behind it to have a chain reaction of multiple rear-end collisions.
This type of accident can be very dangerous as the vehicles can get stuck together and the continuous impacts cause additional injuries and damages. These types of accidents may involve anywhere from a few vehicles to a hundred, in serious cases.
A pileup accident poses specific dangers including:
- Difficulty of rescue teams reaching injured individuals trapped inside the cars;
- A driver or passenger that sustains a crush injury;
- Possibility of explosions and spreading fires; and
- Cars drifting into other lanes.
In a pileup accident, injuries and damages may be more severe if the accident involves:
- Commercial trucks, buses, or other large vehicles;
- Drunk driving; or
- High speeds or aggressive driving.
A pileup accident may be attributed to many factors, including:
- Poor visibility;
- Snow or ice on the road;
- Dust storms;
- Hilly roads; and
- Mechanical failures, including brake failures or brake light failures.
Who is at Fault in a Rear-End Collision?
As noted above, a rear-end automobile collision occurs when one vehicle strikes another vehicle directly from behind. This often occurs when a driver is following too closely to the vehicle in front of them and driving too fast.
The sudden stop of the front vehicle may result in the rear vehicle striking the front vehicle, which often causes injury to the driver and passengers in the front vehicle. A rear-end collision may be dangerous because it can result in injuries including whiplash as well as other head, neck, and spinal injuries. This type of accident may also cause a multiple pile-up accident where one vehicle continues to collide with the vehicle in front of it in a domino effect.
What are Common Causes to Rear-End Collision?
There are several common causes for rear-end automobile collisions. These may include:
- Tailgating, where the rear driver does not keep a prudent distance from the car in front of them and a sudden stop results in a rear-end collision;
- The driver was not paying attention to the road and when front driver stops, the rear end driver collides with front driver;
- Road defects, where the road has defects that makes vehicles not able to stop correctly; and
- Faulty brake lights, where the front driver’s brake lights are out and the rear driver is unable to determine when the front driver is stopping.
How is Fault Proven in a Rear End Accident?
Although the majority of rear-end collisions are caused by the rear driver, that is not always the case. In some cases, the lead vehicle may have been driving below the legal speed limit or may have stopped dangerously in a location where they should not be stopped.
Proving fault in a rear-end collision may involve examining:
- The speed and position of the vehicles. Determining the speed and position of each vehicle can determine fault;
- Traffic violations, which involves concluding whether either driver had violated any road rules;
- Witness statements regarding the accident;
- Physical Evidence, which includes obtaining evidence such as photographs, videos, and police reports.
Physical evidence is often useful in a rear-end collision claim. For example, skid marks are often useful for proving at what distance a vehicle stopped and whether or not it was traveling too fast.
What are the Legal Remedies for Rear-End Collisions?
The legal remedies for a rear-end collision typically includes some type of monetary damages award. These monetary damages may include compensation for costs including:
- Medical and hospital expenses;
- Physical therapy expenses;
- Damage to the vehicle or property;
- Reduced quality of life;
- Pain and suffering;
- Lost time at work; and
- Lost earning capacity.
How Do I File a Lawsuit in a Rear-End Collision?
A rear-end collision lawsuit must be filed in a timely manner following the accident and prior to the expiration of the statute of limitations. If an individual waits too long to bring their lawsuit, they may run the risk of missing important filing deadlines or may even be barred from filing their claim if the statute of limitations has run.
Individuals who are involved in the lawsuit should also compile any important or relevant information related to the accident, including:
- Names of parties involved;
- Contact information of the parties involved;
- Descriptions of the accident; and
- Any testimony of witnesses.
If possible, providing video or picture evidence of the accident may provide important information for determining fault in the lawsuit. In addition, there may be many different parties involved in a rear-end collision, especially when there are multiple vehicles which were damaged as a result of the accident. These may include:
- Insurance companies;
- Other injured parties;
- Car manufacturers; and
- Automobile mechanics.
Are There any Defenses to Rear-End Collisions?
In some cases, yes there may be defenses available to rear-end collisions. There are instances when a rear-end collision occurs due to the fault of another driver who caused an individual to rear-end their car.
In these situations, the rear vehicle driver would be released from liability if they were able to prove they were not at fault. Defenses in rear-end collision cases may include:
- Lack of proof. If an element of negligence cannot be proven, there is not enough evidence to prove liability;
- Emergencies. If emergency conditions existed at the time of the accident, a charge may be dropped or a sentence reduced;
- Contributory or comparative negligence. Some jurisdictions do not permit a plaintiff to recover damages if they contributed to their own injury or injuries. In other jurisdictions, the damages awarded to the plaintiff are reduced proportionately;
- Assumption of the risk. This may sometimes be a defense if it can be shown that the other driver knew of a certain risk and still acted in spite of that risk;
- Last clear chance. In some states, if a driver has a last clear chance to prevent the accident, but fails to take that chance, the defendant may be relieved from liability;
- Faulty brake lights, when the front vehicle’s brake lights were not functioning properly;
- Front driver’s liability, when the front driver makes a sudden stop to make a turn; and
- Front driver reverses, when the front driver suddenly reverses which causes the rear end collision.
Do I Need a Lawyer for Help with a Rear-End Collision Lawsuit?
It is essential to have the assistance of a car accident lawyer for any rear-end collision lawsuit issues you may be facing. A rear-end collision is often difficult to sort out, especially if there are multiple drivers and passengers involved.
Your attorney can assist you with filing your claim as well as guide you through the process, representing you any time you are required to appear in court. Your attorney can review the accident situation, determine if there may be any available defenses if you were the driver of the rear vehicle and assist you in obtaining compensation for any injuries or losses you have suffered.