Causes of rear-end accidents and the resulting injuriesRear-end collisions are unfortunately common, accounting for about a third of all car accidents nationwide. While they may be referred to as “fender benders” or “minor accidents,” a rear-end crash can cause serious injuries to drivers and passengers.

It's important to follow certain steps after a car accident to protect not just your health, but your legal right to recover compensation for the crash.

Why Are Rear-End Collisions So Common?

In the majority of rear-end crash cases, the driver following is the one who's at fault, since he has the most control over preventing a collision. People are expected to keep a safe distance from other vehicles to allow for sudden braking, and failure to maintain a space “cushion” is the primary cause of a rear-end crash.

Factors that increase the risk of a rear-end accident include:

  • Distractions. A driver on a cellphone may not realize that traffic is slowing down until they crash into the stopped car ahead of them.
  • Speeding. A speeding motorist needs at least three or four car lengths to brake if traffic suddenly comes to a halt.
  • Tailgating. A driver following another vehicle too closely is likely to strike the vehicle ahead if the person in front taps their brakes.

Injuries You May Suffer If Rear-Ended by Another Vehicle

Even at speeds under 10 mph, a rear-end crash can result in life-altering injuries. Unfortunately, the full effects of these accidents may not be apparent until hours or days after the incident.

It's always best to seek medical attention as soon as possible after any kind of collision since doctors can perform diagnostic testing and begin treatment immediately for conditions such as:

  • Neck injuries. Whiplash is the most commonly reported injury after a rear-end collision. The impact from behind causes a victim’s head to "whip" forward and backward rapidly, stretching tendons, vertebrae, and nerves in the neck. Whiplash victims may suffer severe headaches, an inability to move their heads, or tingling in the arms and legs.
  • Head injuries. A victim’s head may be thrown back into the headrest, forward into the steering wheel or airbag, or even sideways into the window in a rear-end collision. Any trauma to the head could result in traumatic brain injury, causing concussion, vision changes, tinnitus, memory loss, or impaired cognitive function.
  • Back injuries. A victim’s spine may twist or stretch unnaturally due to the force of impact, damaging the sponge-like material that cushions the individual discs of the spine. These bulge outward, resulting in a herniated disc—an extremely painful condition that often causes permanent movement and lifting restrictions.
  • Facial trauma. Cuts and lacerations to the face from broken glass may cause permanent scarring or disfigurement, while sudden contact with a deployed airbag can result in burns, broken noses, and eye injuries.
  • Broken bones. Any car accident can break bones, but rear-end collisions are especially likely to cause broken ribs and pelvises as a result of tightening seat belts or fractures of the feet and hands as passengers brace for impact.
  • Spinal cord injury. Severe back trauma may damage or sever the spinal cord, resulting in an inability to move the legs (paraplegia), inability to move the arms and the legs (quadriplegia), or total paralysis of the body.

If you or someone you love was involved in a rear-end crash, you should know that there's only a limited period of time to file a lawsuit before the right to receive damages will be lost forever.

Our car accident injury team will listen to your story and advise you on legal options, and we don't collect payment for our services until your case is resolved. Simply fill out the quick contact form on this page to set up a consultation and get answers to your questions.


Paul R. Cavonis
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Injury Law and Board Certified Civil Trial Attorney