One minute, you’re waiting at a stoplight, and the next thing you feel is a sudden bump, as another vehicle crashes into your car’s rear-end. Rear-end crashes often involve vehicles ramming into each other with little to no notice.
Most rear-end crashes are hard to avoid as they’re unpredictable and may cause serious injuries that could be life-changing. 29% of all car crashes are rear-ended collisions that occur out of sheer negligence in most situations.
But that may not always be the case. If you’re involved in a car accident, you should learn more about the possible causes and effects of rear-end crashes before filing a claim.
Meaning of a Rear-End Crash
A rear-end accident occurs when a driver hits the rear-end section of another vehicle directly in front of them.
Such car accidents occur mostly at stop signs, red lights, or when stuck in congested traffic. Most rear-end collisions are dangerous, occurring around stationary vehicles where one of the vehicles moves at a high speed.
Speeding is one of the major causes of rear-end crashes. In most cases, the accident victims don’t get the chance to evade the crash or brace for impact.
According to the Insurance Information Institute, 7% of all traffic-related fatalities occur as a result of a rear-end collision. In most cases, the at-fault driver is held responsible for the damage sustained for an act of negligence, like driving under the influence.
Causes of Rear-End Crashes
According to traffic laws, a driver following a vehicle must approach a leading car from a safe distance and drive within the speed limit. Failure to do so could result in a rear-end collision, although many conditions apply in a car accident.
Tailgating the Vehicle in Front
Tailgating is when a driver moves too close to a car in front of them. If the driver doesn’t keep a safe distance, accidents can happen. A rear-end collision leaves occupants with little time to react or take certain measures to prevent damage. Aggressive drivers may intentionally follow a car too closely and cause damage, especially on highway routes.
Distracted Driving on the Road
According to the NHTSA, 87% of rear-end collisions happen because of distracted driving, a top contributor to motor vehicle accidents. A rear-end collision may occur because the at-fault driver didn’t pay proper attention to the wheel. Activities like talking over the phone, eating, falling asleep at the wheel, and texting can distract a driver from what’s ahead on the road, contributing to most rear-end collisions.
Speeding and Reckless Driving
Driving behaviors like speeding and making reckless decisions behind the wheel can lead to fatal accidents on the road. Most speeding cases result in rear-end collisions because the force of impact is higher compared to the time it takes for either of the vehicles to slow down. Driving under the influence may also make a driver reckless and confused.
Bad Weather Conditions
Roads with low visibility conditions and bad weather can result in collisions. A slippery road can also cause two vehicles to collide in a rear-end collision. Heavy rain, snow, or fog present hazardous conditions, impacting a driver’s ability to steer and navigate.
Types of Personal Injuries From a Rear-End Crash
Read-end crashes can cause a wide range of injuries, from mild to serious. Common injuries include back pain, trauma, brain and spinal injury, shoulder breaks and lacerations, whiplash injury, fractured bone, and more.
Whiplash injuries are the most prevalent in a rear-end accident. This type of neck injury occurs when your upper body experiences a sudden, forced movement. The motion is usually in the forward direction but is immediate.
According to the National Safety Council, 80% of individuals diagnosed with whiplash injury experience soreness and neck pain as primary symptoms. A whiplash injury can cause nerve or muscle damage if the accident is severe.
Biomechanical studies suggest that neck injuries are caused by motor vehicle accidents, 85% of which are due to rear-end collisions. Whiplash injuries are more common than you think and cannot be diagnosed with simple tests.
Back pain is a common consequence of a rear-end collision. Such back injuries often require immediate medical attention. Back strains are soft tissue injuries where a tendon or muscle is twisted, torn, or pulled. Rear-end collisions at low speeds often result in back injuries and cramping.
This injury is different from a back strain. In this case, the ligaments get injured. Sprains mostly occur because of a sudden twist, during a fall, or when the body experiences a sudden force of impact that may extend to the bones and joints.
A herniated disc refers to a spinal cord injury where a sudden collision causes the core of the disc between the bones in your spine to fall out of place. In a slipped disc, the rubbery exterior around the soft nucleus inside the disc tears apart. People suffering from a herniated disc may experience arm or leg pain, muscle weakness, numbness, or tingling.
Whether it’s lumbar or cervical, spinal stenosis is a condition that impacts the spinal column, often as a result of accidental trauma. In lumbar stenosis, the spinal column narrows around the lower back section of the body. In cervical stenosis, the spinal column gets affected near the neck region.
Spinal or Compression Fracture
Rear-end collisions may also cause spinal fractures, dislocations, spinal instability, and other injuries that can have long-lasting effects. While these injuries can be treated with physiotherapy and immobilization, the recovery period may take as long as 12 weeks. In a more severe case, an accident victim may experience complete immobility or disability.
Compression fractures are also common during a high-speed collision. They occur when the vertebral column collapses as a result of sudden impact. Most accident victims experience sudden pain in the middle and lower back and limited spinal mobility. Other symptoms include pain while standing or walking, deformities, or a disability that can impact lifestyle and limit employment opportunities.