What You Should Know About Rear End Collisions
One out of every three car accidents on average is a rear end collision. Usually, the injuries and property damage in rear-end accidents are not as significant as in other types of car accidents because the spacing between the impact and the occupants, and more often than not many rear-end accidents occur at relatively low speeds.
Rear end accident injuries usually take months to heal or sometimes years or even permanently. During a rear-end crash, the seat back cushion moves into the torso of a vehicle’s occupants as the vehicle surges forward. Research shows that rear-end impact change in velocity levels over even three miles per hour for unsuspecting motorists have sufficient forces to cause an occupant’s head to rotate rearward enough to hit an upright headrest. This impact causes a jolt that leads to soft tissue injuries, usually in the neck but also in the back, involving joint capsules, muscles, ligaments, and tendons. Due to the inherent and somewhat deceptive nature of these injuries, they can take a long time to heal. This sometimes makes it difficult to properly estimate the value of the general damages (pain and suffering) and special damages (future medical expenses) to be incurred.
Rear end collisions can happen for various reasons:
Driver inattention accounts for the largest of rear-end crash causal factors. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that 63% of all rear-end crashes were caused by driver inattention.
Driving while on the phone or texting – In spite of the cell phone ban while driving law in Maryland, some drivers still text and/ or use their phone while driving and this reduces their attentiveness and in some cases leading to rear-end collisions.
Drunk while driving (DWI) – DWI is a very serious matter that not only can lead to jail time but also can cause accidents due to its adverse effects on the mind.
Poor weather – When driving in inclement weather (rain or snow), the law requires you to reduce your speed and give extra space to compensate for extra stopping time required in the event your tires skid. Failure to adhere can lead to a rear-end collision.
Fortunately, Maryland law is relatively favorable for victims of rear-end collision accidents. Maryland has an evidentiary presumption rule that makes litigating these claims slightly easier. While the plaintiff still has to prove his case, this presumption already puts a defendant on the back foot in a rear-end collision case. Courts in Maryland have held that a presumption of negligence is placed on the driver of the following vehicle in a rear-end collision. The following are examples of some settlements from rear-end accident cases in Maryland that were resolved for amounts that are much higher than the typical rear-end collision case:
2014: A 40-year-old woman suffered a minor disc injury after a rear-end accident. The insurance company’s offer of $70,000 was rejected and a jury later awarded the victim $290,000.
2015: $47,380 Verdict – Three retired women were driving through the 895 Tunnel. After they paid the toll, a car suddenly rear-ends their vehicle. There was very little damage to their vehicle, but their car is pushed into the following car in the collision. Despite the lack of damage, each of the plaintiffs complains of soft-tissue damage. They file suit against the driver of the at-fault vehicle alleging that he followed their car too closely. The case goes to trial, prompting the defense to contest the extent of the plaintiffs’ injuries. In the end, each plaintiff is awarded medical costs and $6,000 in pain and suffering.
2015: A 50-year-old female massage therapist has a low impact accident with an SUV. There was no property damage. The victim drove home from the crash but was later found to have ulnar neuropathy and later settled for $335,000.
2015: Victim was a 42-year-old female who was in a rear-end crash in Prince George’s County, Maryland. The victim has almost no property damage to her vehicle. But she complained of injuries to her neck and back and sought treatment from an orthopedist and a neurologist who discovered a neck MRI revealed a disc herniation which subsequently required surgery via a cervical fusion. The case resolved in mediation for $190,000.00.
The moral of the story is no two cases are alike. Notwithstanding that the average rear-end collision typically leads to not so serious or non life-threatening injuries some settlement values can be higher than the norm, therefore, each case must be carefully addressed on its face.
Therefore, if you were injured in a motor vehicle accident, contact us to learn about your options and what we can do for you. You can call us at 301-453-7177 for a free consultation.