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  • Rear-End Collisions

    The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that rear-end car accidents are the most common type of collision. Rear-end crashes can cause substantial injuries and even death. The term “fender-bender” downplays the severity of many rear-end collisions. While some rear-end crashes are minor, they can still cause significant damage to your vehicle and your health.

    A rear-end collision happens when a driver hits the vehicle directly in front of them from behind. Sometimes, the force of the hit will push that vehicle other vehicles, causing a multi-vehicle accident.

    Rear-end collisions often happen at red lights, stop signs, or when traffic slows due to traffic congestion or road work. These collisions may occur at low speeds but also happen when a speeding car on a highway cannot stop in time for the slower traffic ahead.

    Examples of rear-end collisions include:

    • The rear driver accidentally rolled forward at low speed at an upcoming light and hit the back of the front driver’s vehicle.
    • The rear driver was traveling faster than the front driver and hit the front driver’s vehicle while both cars were in motion.
    • The rear driver was speeding and violently crashed into the back of a stopped vehicle at a red light.
    • The rear driver was speeding and tried to brake for stopped traffic but could not come to a complete stop in time, plowing into the car in front.
    • A rear driver was driving too fast on a slick road and could not avoid the car ahead that was stopped at a stop sign.
    • A hurried rear driver was tailgating the driver in front of them and crashed into the back of their car when the front driver suddenly slowed for a traffic tie-up.

    There are many other variations of rear-end crashes. In almost all cases, a rear-end crash will cause an accident with vehicle damage and bodily injuries. The collision’s severity depends on road conditions, how fast the vehicles were traveling, and even the types of vehicles involved.

    The most devastating accidents occur when a fast-moving vehicle hits a stopped car. The force of the collision can be devastating. Any rear-end collision can cause one or both vehicles to slide, run off the road, veer into a neighboring lane, or even roll over.

    What Causes Rear-End Collisions?

    Studies show that rear-end collisions total about 1.7 million each year in the United States. Nearly 29 percent of all car accidents are rear-end collisions, according to the NHTSA. Most of these accidents fall under a few common causes, as follows:

    Distracted Driving

    The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) found that 87 percent of rear-end collisions happen because of a distracted driver. Distracted driving is anything that takes a driver’s hands off the wheel and eyes off the road, including:

    • Cellphone use: Cellphones enable you to talk, text, get directions, watch videos, send emails, post to social media, read books, and take pictures. Unfortunately, some people do these activities while driving. The result is often severe injuries.
    • Eating and drinking: Many people will grab a burger and soft drink at the drive-thru and continue on their way. Unfortunately, eating and drinking can cause distractions and accidents.
    • Rowdy passengers: Teenage and young adult drivers may carry a carload of loud or rowdy friends. Loud music, yelling, horseplay, and many other behaviors can cause driver distraction and accidents.
    • Fiddling with controls: Turning on the heat, finding a radio station, moving the seat, programming the GPS, and similar actions have been known to cause serious rear-end accidents. They cause a driver to look down or otherwise away from the road, not seeing the stopped or slowed car ahead of them.

    Drowsy Drivingcauses rear end collisions

    Studies show that the majority of Americans lack adequate sleep. The problem is that a fatigued driver is an unsafe driver. Fatigue causes delays in reaction time, failure to make good driving decisions, and it can lead to a driver falling asleep. All of these can contribute to a serious rear-end collision.

    Impaired Driving

    Some drivers still get behind the wheel after drinking or using drugs. Impaired driving has many consequences, including serious injuries and death caused in rear-end collisions.


    A driver who operates their vehicle above the speed limit is a danger to everyone on the road. They often lose the ability to stop the car in time or otherwise control their vehicle, leading to a rear-end collision and serious injuries.

    Reckless Driving

    Reckless driving is a danger to any motorist in the path of this type of driver. Reckless drivers will often tailgate, upping the likelihood for a severe rear-end collision.

    Hazardous Road Conditions

    When it is rainy, foggy, snowy, or icy, motorists must change their driving for the new conditions, especially slowing down. Many do not, making stopping the vehicle more difficult and causing a rear-end accident.

    What Are Common Injuries from Rear-End Collisions?

    Rear-end accidents are much more than minor fender-benders. An injury caused by someone plowing into the back of your car can cause lasting chronic conditions. That is why anyone involved in a rear-end crash should always see a doctor. Some injuries take time to develop, such as hours, days, or even months after the accident. rear end collision injuries

    Common rear-end crash injuries include the following:

    • Whiplash and neck injuries: In a rear-end accident, your head will often move violently forward and backward, causing neck injuries, such as whiplash. Whiplash and other neck conditions damage the soft tissue in the neck, such as tendons and ligaments. Sprains and tears can also occur. Neck injuries often result in intense pain, stiffness, and limited neck movement. A person will often need physical therapy and time off from work.
    • Back injuries: The back muscles, joints, and soft tissue could be affected in a rear-end accident. The force of a back-end collision can fiercely strain the upper, middle, or lower back, causing all types of debilitating injuries. Physical therapy, time off work, and ongoing treatments can help, but the person may also need back surgery.
    • Brain injuries: The force of a rear-end accident can cause a driver or passenger in the front vehicle to strike their heads on nearby objects, such as the steering wheel, a windshield or window, the roof of the car, or the seatback. Sometimes, just a sharp jolt of the head can cause a brain injury. From concussion to traumatic brain injuries, the effects of a rear-end collision can be devastating and lifelong.
    • Spinal cord injuries: The spinal cord is made up of delicate tissue and discs. Even the slightest rear-end collision can compress or otherwise damage a disk or soft tissue. Spinal cord injuries can cause temporary or permanent paralysis. Injured drivers will often need to spend a lot of time in the hospital and rehabilitation and may live with permanent disabilities.
    • Broken bones: The force of a rear-end collision is often enough to deploy an airbag, which could injure bones in the face, hands, or arms. Legs and knees will often be forced into the dashboard or a seatback, causing fractures. Any broken bone will cause temporary or lasting effects, some requiring surgeries and long recovery periods. A person may also never regain their range of motion or remain without pain.

    How Can I Avoid a Rear-End Accident?

    There is little a person can do to avoid being hit from behind. Even if you see a car coming at you in your rearview mirror, you most likely will not have the time or room to react.

    Fortunately, there are steps you can take to avoid being the cause of a rear-end accident, including:

    • Do not tailgate or drive aggressively.
    • Put down the cellphone.
    • Minimize distractions in the vehicle.
    • Do not allow passengers to fool around or be loud.
    • Do not drive if you are tired.
    • Never drink and drive or take drugs and drive.
    • Do not speed.
    • Drive slowly in bad weather.

    Who Is Responsible for a Rear-End Collision?

    Under Pennsylvania law, the driver who causes the rear-end collision from behind is typically at fault. The rationale is that the rear driver should have allowed sufficient room and time to stop before a crash occurs. While this is the truth in most cases, sometimes the driver in front can be at fault for a rear-end accident.

    It is worth talking with a Philadelphia car accident lawyer if you hit someone from behind because it may not be your fault. The driver in front could be at fault for rear-end collisions when they:

    • Reverse suddenly into the vehicle behind them.
    • Apply the brakes quickly to make a turn but do not make the turn.
    • Slam the brakes because of a distraction.
    • Are drunk or under the influence of drugs and stop or slow suddenly for no reason.
    • Pull out dangerously from a side road or other place without regard to oncoming traffic.
    • Are involved in a collision involving multiple cars.
    • Have a broken brake light.
    • Stop suddenly in the road due to a car problem but do not turn on their hazard lights.
    • Brake check. This is when a front driver purposely and suddenly applies their brakes in response to the driver behind them tailgating. Brake checking can be dangerous and will often cause a collision.

    Other factors can complicate a rear-end collision, including the number of cars involved, road conditions, and other circumstances.

    In any case, never admit guilt or responsibility for a rear-end accident when talking with an insurer or any other party. Insurers will try to get you to take the blame, but do not talk to them or accept any settlement without first consulting a Philadelphia car accident lawyer to understand your rights.

    What Should I Do After a Rear-End Accident?

    No matter how minor or severe the accident, these are the steps you should take if you are involved in a rear-end collision:

    • Call 911 to summon medical help and ensure an official police report.
    • Always seek and accept medical help on the scene, even if you do not feel injuries are severe. If you do not receive or seek medical attention, an insurer can claim that you were not hurt and refuse to pay any medical bills.
    • Take pictures and videos of the scene. Capture the accident scene in its entirety: vehicle damage, strewn parts, the position of the vehicles, location of the accident, weather conditions, road conditions, and injuries.
    • Talk to witnesses. Get witness statements, names, and contact information as quickly as possible to help law enforcement and lawyers determine who was at fault.
    • Keep careful records of injuries and medical bills. A file of medical bills, insurance payments, medical records and conversations, out-of-pocket payments, and other costs related to your injuries will prove invaluable later.
    • Follow your doctor’s orders. Not following through on recommended therapies, medications, and other activities can make it seem as if you are not hurt. Do not give insurers the chance to devalue your accident.
    • Do not talk to, agree to, or sign anything with an insurance company, even your own. Insurers will prey upon your fears of medical bills. Do not accept a lowball settlement. Consult with a car accident lawyer first to understand your options.

    When Should I Contact a Car Accident Lawyer?

    Liability in rear-end collisions can be complex. Insurers will often try to get out of paying owed compensation. After rear-end collision, it is worth contacting a car accident lawyer if:

    • You suffered injuries that required medical care and time off work.
    • You were the rear driver, but believe the front driver was to blame.
    • You were involved in a multi-vehicle rear-end accident.
    • Your children or other passengers suffered injuries.
    • You lost a close family member, such as a spouse, parent, or child, in the accident.

    Do not argue or try to negotiate with insurance companies on your own. They will use many tactics that only an experienced car accident lawyer can defend against.

    Galfand Berger Icon It is worth noting that Pennsylvania follows a modified comparative negligence rule. This means you cannot receive any compensation in an accident if you are found to be more than 50 percent at fault for the crash. However, do not let that prevent you from pursuing a settlement or lawsuit. Talk to a lawyer about your situation and your options.

    Philadelphia Car Accident Lawyers at Galfand Berger LLP Offer Legal Guidance to Those Severely Injured in Rear-End Collisions

    If you have been hurt in a rear-end collision, you may be able to hold the at-fault party liable for your injuries. One of our Philadelphia car accident lawyers at Galfand Berger LLP can review your case. Call us at 800-222-USWA (8792) or complete our online form to schedule a free consultation. Located in Philadelphia, Bethlehem, Lancaster, and Reading, Pennsylvania, we serve clients throughout New Jersey and Pennsylvania, including Allentown and Harrisburg.