A rear-end car crash, also referred to as being rear-ended or being involved in a rear-end collision, can cause extensive damage to the vehicle and injuries to the vehicle’s occupants, such as whiplash. Whiplash is caused by the sudden jolting of the neck and shoulders which is most typically associated with rear-end car accidents. Rear-end crashes happen to be among the most common types of crashes that take place and contribute to an average of 2.5 million vehicle accidents per year. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Association, a rear-end collision takes place every 8 seconds in the United States and is the third largest cause of vehicle accidents.
The Dangers of Tailgating
Many drivers are not aware of the dangers involved in driving too close and get irritated when they are stopped by a police officer for the offense. Drivers who tailgate are typically in a hurry to get somewhere, perhaps running late, and can be distracted or inattentive while driving. This distracted driving can lead to road hazards and other potential obstacles ahead being overlooked. In the event the driver in front of the tailgater has to brake suddenly, the tailgater would not have time to stop and prevent an accident. This could be a deadly mistake.
Following the two-second rule is a good rule to judge your distance. If there is a two to three second gap between your car and the one that is in front of you, then you should be far enough away so long as the road conditions are safe and visibility is not impaired. In situations where road conditions are not optimal, it is best to give yourself increased distance between the vehicle in front of you. The practice has been shown to considerably reduce risk of collision, and also the severity of an accident, if an accident occurs. It also helps to avoid tailgating and road rage for all drivers.
California Law on Tailgating
Following too closely to the vehicle in front of you is typically referred to as “tailgating” and is a common cause for rear-end car accidents. Tailgating can lead to rear-end collisions because the driver who is tailgating is not allowing enough space between themselves and the vehicle that is front of them. This decreases the amount of time available to stop and avoid hitting the leading vehicle. Due to this fact, in most rear-end collision cases the driver responsible for hitting the vehicle in front of them will be held at fault for the crash as well as the property damage to the vehicle and any injuries to the driver and their passengers.
According to California Vehicle Code 21703 you are required to leave a safe distance between you and the car that is in front of you:
The driver of a motor vehicle shall not follow another vehicle more closely than is reasonable and prudent, having due regard for the speed of such vehicle and the traffic upon, and the condition of, the roadway.
The distance will vary based on speed limits, road conditions, traffic congestion, and weather conditions. The courts will typically look at whether your distance was “reasonable and prudent” given the circumstances. The difficulty here is that there is no set distance that constitutes reasonable and prudent, it is subjective. The decisions will typically be made based on the circumstances and whether or not a police officer observed the tailgating offense. In the event you are given a ticket for this offense it will be the opinion of the officer against your own, and in this case the judge will typically side with the officer. Judges will not likely believe that an officer gave you a ticket for no good reason.
Car Insurance Companies May Attempt to Put Blame Elsewhere In Rear-End Collisions
Not all rear-end accidents are the fault of the driver behind the leading vehicle. For example, there may be situations where the vehicle in front stops or decelerates for no reason and the vehicle behind them does not have adequate time to stop their vehicle, regardless of the distance between the two vehicles. These cases can be more difficult to prove but there are situations when the leading driver may be found at fault for stopping too quickly or for no justifiable reason which causes the driver behind them to hit them. Due to this fact it is very important that you do not give a statement to any insurance company representative prior to fully understanding the law that applies to these particular cases. It would be advisable to speak to a Fresno rear-end car crash accident attorney to discuss the details of your accident and determine the best course of action.
Other Causes of Rear-End Car Collisions
Although following too closely is often the cause of rear-end car accidents, it can also be due to other factors. As mentioned, it is typically related to the driver that hits another vehicle from behind being distracted or driving recklessly. Some common causes of rear-end collisions are:
- Distracted driving. Using a cell phone or other electronic devices, talking to other passengers in the vehicle, adjusting the radio, putting on makeup, and even eating can all distract drivers from watching the road and being able to stop in time.
- Impaired driving. Alcohol and other drugs can cause impairment and result in slower response times which can cause drivers to rear-end vehicles in front of them.
- Speeding. Reckless driving such as speeding can be a contributing factor in rear-end crashes.
- Whiplash Injuries in Rear-End Collisions
Injuries from Rear-End Collisions
Many injuries can occur from rear-end crashes, and rear-end crashes contribute to over 2,000 fatal injuries every year, however, whiplash is one of the most common injuries sustained in these accidents. It is estimated that in the United States alone over 3 million people suffer a whiplash injury to their neck or back in car accidents every year, many of these accidents being rear-end crashes. These injuries can cause extreme pain and discomfort for the victim that may continue for months or possibly throughout their lifetime, and could even cause permanent disability. As car crash attorneys it is our responsibility to evaluate the unique circumstances involved in your situation and seek to maximize the results for you and your loved ones. In situations where you may not be able to return to work or you require future medical attention, we may retain experts in the fields of vocational counseling and economics to accurately present these elements of personal injury damages to an insurance adjuster or jury.
We have extensive experience representing people who have sustained serious back and neck injuries in car accidents, including the following types of injuries:
- Spinal Cord Injuries
- Herniated Discs
- Back Pain
- Compound Fractures
Are You the Victim of a Rear-End Collision?
If you are the victim of a rear-end crash in Fresno, California that results in injury or wrongful death, you deserve to receive fair compensation for your injuries and the losses you have sustained. The Law Office of Gregory W. Fox has experience negotiating car accident settlements and can provide you with the legal expertise to fight your case and work to secure the best possible financial outcome for your accident. We offer free initial consultations to discuss the details of your case. We encourage you to discuss your case with us before you consider talking with a representative from an insurance company who may pressure you to make a quick settlement. Call us today, (559) 222-5800.