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Rear-End Collisions Caused by Following Too Closely

March 27, 2024

What Happens When You Tailgate?

You’re driving down the highway, traffic is heavy – you’re in a hurry to get where you’re going. The car in front of you is going too slow, so you get right up on their bumper. Tailgating, we call it. But do you really understand the risks?Rear-end collisions are one of the most common types of crashes. And they often happen because someone was following too close. Our lawyers have seen the devastating consequences firsthand. Serious injuries, even fatalities – all because someone couldn’t be patient.So let’s break it down. Why is tailgating so dangerous? And what can you do to avoid a rear-ender?

The Dangers of Following Too Closely

When you tailgate, you’re eliminating the safety cushion in front of your vehicle. If the car ahead has to brake suddenly, you won’t have enough distance to stop in time. Wham – you’ve rear-ended them.Even a slight tap at low speeds can cause whiplash injuries. At higher speeds, the forces involved are exponentially greater. The front car gets shoved forward violently. Occupants can be thrown into the steering wheel, windshield, or other surfaces. Serious head, neck and spinal cord injuries are common.But the dangers don’t stop there. Getting rear-ended can also push the front car into other vehicles or obstacles. Chain reaction crashes with multiple impacts are nightmares. Not to mention the risks if a larger truck rear-ends a smaller passenger car – the results can be catastrophic.

Why Do People Tailgate?

You’d think with the obvious risks, people would avoid tailgating. But it happens all the time. Our lawyers have seen all the excuses:

  • “I was running late.”
  • “Traffic was stop-and-go, I didn’t realize how close I was.”
  • “The car in front was going too slow!”

Sometimes it’s simple impatience or road rage. Other times, distracted driving is to blame – the driver wasn’t paying attention to their following distance.But none of those are valid excuses. When you get behind the wheel, safety has to be the top priority. Tailgating is aggressive driving, plain and simple. And it dramatically increases the risks for everyone on the road.

Rear-End Collision Laws and Liability

So if a rear-end crash happens, who’s at fault? In most cases, the driver who rear-ended the other vehicle is considered liable. There’s a legal principle called the “Rear-End Collision Doctrine” that creates a presumption of negligence.The reasoning? The driver behind had a duty to maintain a safe following distance and didn’t. They either weren’t paying attention or following too closely. So they failed in their duty of reasonable care on the roads.Of course, there can be exceptions. If the front driver did something unexpected or illegal that truly caused the collision, they could share some blame. Examples might include:

  • Slamming on the brakes for no reason
  • Stopping in a travel lane without justification
  • Driving in reverse on the highway
  • Having non-functioning brake lights

But in general, the rear driver has a higher duty to be aware and drive safely. That’s why most rear-end crashes result in the rear driver being cited and found liable.

Calculating a Safe Following Distance

So how much space should you leave in front of you? The rule of thumb is at least 3 seconds of following distance. More in bad weather or at higher speeds.To calculate it, pick a fixed object ahead when the car in front passes it. Then count “one-thousand-one, one-thousand-two, one-thousand-three.” If you reach that object before finishing, you’re following too close.Some other tips for maintaining a safe gap:

  • Use the 3-second rule for every 10 mph over 45 mph. So 4 seconds at 55 mph, 5 seconds at 65 mph, etc.
  • Allow even more distance if being passed by a larger truck or vehicle
  • Increase the gap when roads are slippery from rain, snow or ice
  • Don’t tailgate, even if the car ahead is going slow – pass when safe or be patient

The bottom line? Leaving more space gives you more time to brake if needed. It’s a simple safety step that could prevent a devastating crash.

Rear-End Collision Injuries and Damages

When our lawyers meet clients who were rear-ended, they’ve often suffered severe injuries like:

  • Whiplash and neck injuries
  • Back and spinal cord injuries
  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Broken bones
  • Lacerations and disfigurement

The property damage can be extensive too. Cars are built with lighter, weaker materials these days. So even a moderate rear impact can total a vehicle.Beyond the physical and property damage, there are other life-altering consequences. Missed work and lost income. Ongoing medical costs. Pain and suffering. Permanent disabilities. Emotional trauma.All because someone was impatient and followed too closely. It’s just not worth it.

Rear-End Collision Statistics

Need more convincing on the dangers? Look at the stats:

  • Rear-end collisions account for 29% of all crashes
  • They cause around 1.7 million injuries per year in the U.S.
  • Over 500,000 people are injured annually in rear-impact crashes
  • Rear-enders make up a disproportionate number of fatalities, given their frequency

Those numbers are staggering. And they highlight how serious these crashes can be, despite common assumptions they’re just “fender benders.”

Avoiding a Rear-End Collision

The best way to prevent a rear-end crash? Don’t tailgate! Follow at a safe distance, stay focused on the road, and be ready to brake.But what if you’re the one being tailgated? It’s an unnerving feeling when the car behind is riding your bumper. Try these tips:

  • Don’t slam on the brakes – that could cause a collision
  • Change lanes and let the tailgater go around you
  • Pull over and let them pass when safe
  • Gently tap your brakes to hint they’re following too close
  • Avoid escalating road rage – just get out of their way

If the tailgating persists and becomes harassment, you may need to report an aggressive driver. But don’t put yourself at further risk trying to “teach them a lesson.”

Rear-End Collision Lawsuits

Even when taking precautions, sometimes a rear-end collision is unavoidable. If you’re the innocent victim struck from behind, you may have a case for compensation.Our lawyers have handled many rear-end collision lawsuits. We fight to recover damages for:

  • Medical bills
  • Lost wages
  • Vehicle repairs or replacement
  • Pain and suffering
  • Future costs for ongoing treatment

The key is proving the other driver’s negligence caused your injuries and losses. That’s where an experienced car accident attorney can make a huge difference.We gather evidence like:

  • Police reports citing the rear driver
  • Eyewitness testimony
  • Footage from traffic cameras or cell phones
  • Damage estimates and repair costs
  • Medical records detailing your injuries

With a strong case, we can often negotiate a full settlement. Or take it to trial if the insurance company refuses to pay fair compensation.

Common Defenses in Rear-End Collisions

Of course, the rear driver who caused the crash will try to deflect blame. Their insurance company will look for any angle to minimize payouts. Some common defenses we see:

  • Claiming you stopped or braked suddenly for no reason
  • Alleging your brake lights were faulty or not working
  • Arguing you were also driving erratically or distracted
  • Saying road conditions like ice or debris were the real cause

Our lawyers are skilled at dismantling these tactics. We know how to counter their arguments and shift liability back where it belongs – on the tailgating driver.

Rear-End Truck Accident Lawsuits

Rear-end crashes involving large commercial trucks are especially devastating. The size and weight disparities make them far more dangerous.Even a moderate rear impact from a semi can crumple a passenger car. Underride accidents, where the car becomes trapped under the truck’s trailer, often result in catastrophic injuries or deaths.If you or a loved one was rear-ended by a truck, you may have a truck accident case. Our lawyers go after all responsible parties:

  • The truck driver
  • The trucking company
  • Equipment manufacturers
  • Third-party maintenance companies

We investigate the driver’s hours, the truck’s maintenance, and whether equipment failures played a role. Holding these multi-million dollar companies accountable is crucial for getting maximum compensation.

Rear-End Motorcycle Accidents

Motorcyclists are also extremely vulnerable in rear-end collisions. Their smaller profile makes it easier for inattentive drivers to tailgate and hit them from behind.And when that happens, the rider often goes flying off their bike and onto the pavement. The injuries from these high-speed impacts tend to be horrific:

  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Spinal cord damage and paralysis
  • Severe road rash and disfigurement
  • Broken bones and crushed limbs

If a negligent driver rear-ended you on your motorcycle, you may have a motorcycle accident case. Our lawyers understand the biases against riders and how to overcome them.We’ll make sure the driver who hit you is held fully responsible. You deserve maximum compensation for your medical costs, lost income, pain and suffering, and more.

Rear-End Pedestrian Accidents

Pedestrians are the most vulnerable of all in rear-end collisions. When a car rear-ends another vehicle with enough force, it can shove that front car into a pedestrian crossing the street.These “re-directed force” impacts are essentially the same as being struck directly by the rear vehicle at full speed. The pedestrian’s body simply can’t withstand that kind of trauma.Severe injuries like TBIs, spinal cord damage, crushed bones and internal bleeding are common. Tragically, many pedestrians struck in this manner don’t survive.If you lost a loved one in this type of pedestrian accident, our lawyers can help file a wrongful death lawsuit. While no amount of money can make up for the loss, it can provide financial security during this unimaginable time.

Rear-End Hit and Run Accidents

Some of the most maddening cases are hit-and-run rear-end collisions. The reckless driver who caused the crash flees the scene, leaving their victims to suffer.If this happens to you, try to get the license plate number or any identifying details. Call 911 immediately and get a police report filed.Our investigators will work to track down the hit-and-run driver. But even if we can’t find them, there may still be compensation available through your own uninsured motorist coverage.

Rear-End Accident Settlements

So what kind of financial compensation can you get for a rear-end collision? Settlement amounts vary widely based on the specific damages involved, such as:

  • The severity of your injuries
  • Whether you’ll need ongoing medical care
  • How much time you missed from work
  • If you can return to your previous job
  • The amount of property damage
  • Whether a death was involved

Relatively minor injury cases with limited missed work might settle for $10,000 to $100,000. More serious accidents resulting in permanent disabilities could reach into the millions.The best way to know what your case may be worth is to speak with an experienced car accident lawyer. Most offer free consultations to evaluate the details.

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Todd Spodek

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