Rear-End Accidents in South Carolina
Tailgating and Rear-End Accidents
Rear-end collisions are the most common type of traffic accident. They result from a motorist driving too close to the vehicle in front of them, usually while speeding. This behavior also makes the driver in the lead feel nervous and somewhat helpless. In addition, it makes the drivers in adjacent lanes vulnerable. This type of behavior is a traffic offense and one that causes significant injuries and deaths. Let’s explore the incidence of rear-end collisions, their causes, liability and injuries related to them.
Statistical Analysis of Rear-End Crashes
Forty percent of the over six million car accidents that occur annually are rear-end collisions. This breaks down to 2.5 million rear-end collisions every year or one every eight seconds, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Eight out of 10 rear-end collisions happen when the vehicle in front is stopped. Usually, the car to the rear is traveling at a higher speed than is permitted. Driver distraction is the leading cause of rear-end collisions. Men are 200 percent more likely to cause a rear-end crash.
Fault in a Rear-End Collision
In most cases, the driver to the rear is considered responsible for the accident. However, there are exemptions. If the lead driver has malfunctioning brake lights, it would be impossible to know the vehicle is stopped or slowing down.
Consider three vehicles in a row on a busy highway. The driver to the rear is speeding and traveling too close to the car in front of them, causing a rear-end collision. The impact pushes the car in the middle into the one in front of them. Finally, that vehicle pushes the car in front into an adjacent lane. Fault in this scenario is assigned to the initial speeding driver to the rear.
Calculating Fault in a Rear-End Collision
Comparative negligence has existed in South Carolina since 1991 in Nelson v. Concrete Supply Company. Going back to our multiple-car example, let us say the driver to the rear is still speeding and hits the vehicle in front of him. However, now the driver in front lacks functional brake lights.
The next two drivers are hit through no fault of their own. The court may assign 30 percent of the fault to the vehicle with non-working brake lights and 70 percent fault to the driver at the rear. That means that the lead vehicle driver can collect 70 percent of his or her damages, and the driver to the rear can collect 30 percent of theirs.
Another consideration is if the vehicle with the non-working brake lights is due to a manufacturing defect. In this case, the manufacturer is partly responsible for the crash, and a product liability claim can be filed.
Injuries in a Rear-End Collision
The most common injury associated with a rear-end collision is whiplash or cervical sprain. This is the result of the rapid deceleration and acceleration of the head in this type of accident. Headrests are engineered poorly in many models of cars and are lackluster in preventing cervical sprain.
The resultant headache, pain in the neck and upper back and shoulders or dizziness are slow to appear and can take 72 hours to do so. Rest and analgesia are used with this type of injury, and symptoms can resolve in 30 days. However, in some cases, the pain can persist for years.
Rib pain or fracture can also result, primarily due to shoulder restraints. However, if no restraints are used, the chest can impact the steering wheel and cause fractures.
Concussion in a Rear-End Accident
When the head is rapidly moving back and forth due to a rear-end impact, the brain is hitting the inner rough part of the skull. This can damage the brain. Depending on the force of impact, the damage can be severe, producing a major concussion. A major concussion can cause significant brain damage and result in memory and cognitive loss.
How to Prevent Rear-End Crashes
A driver is responsible for leaving enough room between their vehicle and the car ahead. If they speed and drive too close to the lead vehicle, chances are a rear-end collision will occur. Leaving a three-second space between you and the car ahead is recommended. All drivers need to ensure that their brake lights are working.
How an Attorney Can Help
Rear-end accidents can be fender benders or a serious traffic collision with resultant injury. As you have seen, such accidents are complex. Your attorney will do a rigorous investigation and see if more than one driver is liable. The lawyer will investigate the crash, determine who is liable, evaluate injuries, speak to insurance adjusters and negotiate a fair settlement. If negotiations are not successful, they will bring the case to court.
Rear-end accidents are not only common, but they are also dangerous. When you have been hurt in a rear-end collision, you need the legal insight the attorneys at Morris Law can provide. Let us help you by calling us at (803) 470-4444 to schedule a free case evaluation. Remember, you pay nothing until your case wins in civil court or a settlement is reached with the insurance company.