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Common Injuries from Rear-End Collisions

In the blink of an eye, life can take an unexpected turn. One second, you're humming along to your favorite song in the car, and the next, you're jarred by a sudden impact from behind. This is the stark reality of rear-end collisions, an all-too-common occurrence on our roads today. Below, we discuss the causes of these accidents and common injuries sustained by those involved in rear-end collisions.

What Are Rear-End Accidents?

A rear-end accident occurs when a vehicle collides into the vehicle in front of it. The impact of these accidents can range from minor fender benders to severe crashes, leading to significant injuries and even fatalities. The driver of the car that hits the vehicle in front is typically held at fault, although there can be exceptions depending on the circumstances.

Causes of Rear-End Accidents

Several factors contribute to rear-end collisions, including:

  • Distracted driving. This is one of the leading causes of rear-end accidents2. Distractions could include anything from texting, eating, adjusting the radio, or even daydreaming. When drivers fail to maintain their full attention on the task of driving, it results in a significant delay in their reaction times. This delay can compromise their ability to swiftly adapt to unexpected shifts in traffic patterns.
  • Tailgating. Following too closely or tailgating is another significant contributor. Without adequate space to brake safely, drivers risk colliding with the vehicle in front if it suddenly slows down or stops.
  • Speeding. Exceeding the speed limit compromises a driver's ability to navigate safely around bends or obstacles on the road. It also lengthens the required stopping distance and prolongs the distance a vehicle moves while the driver responds to a hazardous situation.
  • Sudden stops. If a vehicle abruptly stops due to an obstacle or a change in traffic signals, the following vehicles may not have enough time to react, leading to a collision.

10 Injuries Often Sustained in Read-End Collisions

Rear-end collisions can result in a wide range of injuries, some immediately noticeable and others that may take time to manifest. Here, we delve into the ten most common injuries that can occur from these accidents:

  1. Whiplash. Whiplash, a result of the sudden back-and-forth motion of the neck during an accident, is the most frequently occurring injury sustained during rear-end collisions. Symptoms include neck discomfort, headaches, and restricted movement. Prompt medical attention and physical therapy can aid recovery.
  2. Back strains and sprains. These injuries occur when the muscles or ligaments in your back are stretched too far or torn. Symptoms can include pain, swelling, and difficulty moving. Physical therapy and rest can help heal these injuries.
  3. Slipped or herniated discs. The impact can cause discs in your spine to rupture or slip out of place, leading to pain, numbness, or weakness. Treatment often includes medication, physical therapy, or, in severe cases, surgery.
  4. Spinal stenosis. This condition, where the spaces within your spine narrow, can be triggered or worsened by a rear-end collision. Physical therapy, medication, or surgery may be required for treatment.
  5. Traumatic brain injuries. These can result from the head forcefully hitting an object like a steering wheel or windshield. TBIs require immediate medical attention, as they can lead to long-term complications.
  6. Face and eye injuries. Shattered glass or airbag deployment can cause these injuries. Depending on the severity, treatment can range from minor first aid to surgery.
  7. Soft tissue damage. This includes bruises, cuts, and lacerations that may seem minor but can lead to significant health issues if not treated properly.
  8. Internal organ damage. A forceful impact can cause damage to internal organs, such as broken ribs. These injuries require immediate medical attention.
  9. Broken or fractured bones. Commonly in the wrist, arm, or shoulder, these injuries may occur from bracing for impact. Treatment usually involves immobilization and sometimes surgery.
  10. Abdominal injuries. The seatbelt, designed to protect you, can, at times, cause injuries to the abdomen in the event of a collision. Any pain in this area post-accident should be immediately checked by a doctor.

Preventing Rear-End Accidents

Awareness and adherence to traffic rules can significantly reduce the risk of rear-end collisions. Here are some tips to help prevent these accidents:

  • Maintain a safe distance. It's essential to maintain an adequate gap between your vehicle and the one in front. The three-second rule provides a straightforward method to gauge this distance: when the vehicle ahead of you crosses a specific point, like a sign or tree, start counting "one-thousand-one, one-thousand-two, one-thousand-three." If you cross the same point before completing your count, then you're trailing too close.
  • Stay focused. Avoid distractions while driving. Keep your eyes on the road and your hands on the wheel. Remember, even a momentary distraction can lead to an accident.
  • Be aware of your surroundings. Stay vigilant about what's happening around you. Pay attention to the cars ahead, behind, and next to you, and anticipate potential changes in traffic.
  • Follow traffic rules. Adhere to speed limits and signal your intentions to other drivers by using your indicators when changing lanes or turning.

Injured in a rear-end accident? Contact The Dickinson Law Firm online or via phone at (770) 924-8155 for reliable legal counsel.