Rear-end Collision Injuries Can be Serious, Even when the Vehicle Damage is Not
Year after year, the National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA) cites rear-end collisions as the type of vehicle accident that happens most frequently on our roads. Many can cause serious injuries and life-altering consequences.
If you or a loved one was harmed in a rear-end collision, you may be entitled to compensation for your losses. In Texas, you can receive two kinds of damages:
- Special damages – losses that include money for medical and rehabilitative bills, lost wages and other quantitative amounts.
- General damages – compensation for pain and suffering, physical impairment and mental anguish.
However, calculating the damages and amount of compensation you are entitled to is extremely complex, and insurance companies will attempt to get you to settle for the lowest possible amounts. To ensure you get the justice you deserve, it pays to enlist the experienced rear-end collision personal injury lawyers at Guajardo & Marks for help.
Texas Rear-end Accident Attorneys
With decades of experience, the skilled Dallas rear-end accident personal injury lawyers Michael Guajardo and Greg Marks know the difficulties victims and their families face following a catastrophic rear-end car crash injury. Texas laws are complicated, and you need an attorney that will take the time to truly get to know you and your family to help you through this trying time.
At Guajardo & Marks, LLP, we are dedicated to providing the most personal, compassionate service possible. We offer a free consultation to discuss the individual circumstances of your rear-end case and show you how we can help. If you suffered catastrophic injuries or a family member was killed due to the carelessness of another, please contact us online or call (972) 534-2756 today to set up your free consultation.
Causes of “Rear-Enders”
Rear-enders can happen anywhere — on freeways, boulevards, residential streets and even at parking lot entrances and exits. Almost always the at-fault driver is not paying attention and is driving while distracted. The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) reports that distracted driving kills nine people every day and injures about a thousand.
Distracted driving can include eating, putting on makeup, or fiddling with the stereo, entertainment or navigation system. But the most common distraction is our smartphones. The National Safety Council tells us that over a million crashes a year are caused by drivers who pay more attention to their smartphones than their driving.
The NHTSA, through the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute (VTTI), did some research about vehicle collisions. Some of the important findings about rear-enders include:
- Leading vehicles were stopped (81 percent in the survey) or moving at very slow speeds at the time of the collision. Most of the time, the rear driver was following too closely to the car in front.
- Most rear-end accidents happen during the day on dry, straight, and level roads.
- Visual inattention was responsible for 93 percent of rear-end collisions.
Types of Injuries
The most common injury associated with rear-end collisions is “whiplash,” a soft tissue injury to the cartilage within the spine that occurs when the neck instantly snaps forward, then backward. Whiplash injuries can range from mild to severe. It is not unusual for whiplash symptoms to reveal themselves days after an accident and for people to feel “just fine” immediately after a seemingly minor rear-end collision.
When it presents, mild whiplash produces sharp neck pain, headaches, tingling in the extremities and neck stiffness. Moderate whiplash injuries may result in the more severe symptoms, plus chronic headaches and nerve damage and may be accompanied by bulging or thinning of the soft tissue cushioning the vertebrae. In extreme cases, partial loss of strength in extremities, and even paralysis, is not uncommon. Severe whiplash can leave a victim temporarily or permanently paralyzed or cause traumatic brain injury (TBI).
A rear-ender that occurs at high speed or when a smaller vehicle is hit by a large one and may cause catastrophic injuries, including:
- Broken bones and fractures.
- TBIs – 14.3 percent of all traumatic brain injuries occur in motor vehicle accidents. TBIs can lead to cognitive brain malfunctions; this includes problems with memory, concentration and reasoning.
- Spinal Cord Damage – Vehicle accidents are the leading cause of spinal cord injuries in the United States. SCIs can lead to loss of feeling, pain, respiratory problems, weakness and loss of motor function.
- Loss of Limb/Amputations – The loss of a limb or an amputation permanently alters a person’s life in many ways, including intense pain, body image issues and loss of work capability and income.
- Internal Injuries and Organ Damage – Internal and organ damage can impact vital bodily functions and cause damage to the kidney and ureter, intestines, lungs, spleen, liver and other organs.
- Wrongful Death – When someone loses their life in a vehicle collision, their loved ones face incredible emotional and psychological suffering and also financial ramifications – medical bills, funeral costs and loss of income, especially if the deceased was the primary earner. Surviving family members of vehicle accident victims may seek compensation in wrongful death cases.
Who is At Fault in a Rear-end Collision?
It is often assumed that rear-end collisions are the fault of the driver who hits the car ahead, but this is not always the case. Sometimes the driver in front did something that caused the accident to happen and was at least partly at fault.
If you were the rear vehicle driver, you may be able to prove that you were not at fault by showing that:
- your vehicle was under control,
- you followed the vehicle at a safe distance for the circumstances, and
- the front automobile was negligent and created a hazard which could not reasonably be avoided.
- Being Cut Off – While you must maintain a safe following distance, a merging or lane-changing driver is responsible for moving a reasonable distance ahead of you and for using proper signaling. If a car suddenly moves in front of you without signaling, brakes suddenly or cuts too closely in front of your car, that driver is the cause of the accident.
- Lights – Flashing hazard lights must be used when a vehicle cannot keep up with the normal flow of traffic or minimum speed limit, or when a vehicle is stopped or disabled on a highway. If the front driver did not use lights or if brake lights are not working, that driver may be at fault.
- Driving Recklessly – If the front driver is driving recklessly — texting or talking on the phone while driving, driving drunk, or swerving or driving drunk or erratically and you rear-end it, the other driver is at fault.
- Reversing Unexpectedly – If a driver ahead of you pulls into the intersection but then decides that it’s not safe to turn and backs up into you, the accident is their fault.
- Defective Road Conditions – If there are no road markings or warnings of construction, lane closures or a need to slow down for obstacles, the agency responsible for the road may be at fault.
- Vehicle Malfunctions – In situations such as brake failure or if a car defectively accelerates, the car manufacturer may be partly at fault.
Even if you’re found to be at partially at fault for the accident, you may not have to pay for all of the damages. Texas has a modified comparative negligence law where if you are found to be less than 50% at fault for the accident, the cost of the damages can be split between the two parties based on percentage of fault. For example, if you are found 20% responsible for the accident, you will have to pay for 20% of the damages, and the other driver must pay the remaining 80%.
Seek Legal Assistance From an Experienced Texas Rear-end Accident Lawyer
Rear-end collisions are always dangerous, and since your injuries may not be noticed for days or even weeks after the accident, don’t fail to associate them with your accident. Many accident victims believe that if they don’t report pain or symptoms of an injury immediately, they cannot pursue injury claims. This is patently untrue, although you should be aware that there are deadlines (statutes of limitation) for filing such claims. If you “feel fine” after the accident, but later develop symptoms, immediately seek medical attention and request a full battery of imaging tests (X-rays, MRIs and CT scans) to determine the extent of your injuries.
Once you have evidence of an injury, contact an experienced rear-end accident attorney, who can help you …
- deal with insurance companies who question your claim
- gather evidence to prove the other party was a fault
- deal with witnesses
- handle information, medical bills and treatment.
If you or a loved one has been injured or someone has died in a rear-end accident in Dallas, Fort Worth or anywhere in North Texas, contact the experienced DFW Metroplex legal team at Guajardo & Marks immediately. Our rear-end accident attorneys can help protect your compensation rights for all medical bills, lost income, pain and suffering, and more. To schedule a free consultation please call us at 972-534-2756 or fill out this contact form.