A good day spent driving your car can be spoiled by a negligent driver who, for a reason, may rear-end your vehicle. Injuries and personal damages are a result of an accident. It can be a turning point in your life when the injuries are severe. The negligent party ought to compensate you for the losses. When you get into a rear-end accident, ensure that an experienced personal injury attorney defends you and ensure you are compensated for your injuries and damages. Jacksonville Personal Injury Attorney has a reputation for defending rear-end car accident victims to ensure they are well compensated.
Causes of Rear-End Car Accidents
The following are the leading causes of rear-end car accidents:
Some common forms of precipitation like rain, fog, sleet, snow, ice, and mist affect the driver’s ability to drive properly. The weather patterns change:
- The driver’s ability to see the road and other traffic users
- The stability of the car and the strength of the driver to maintain within the lane
- The driver’s ability to decelerate in time
The standard capacity of the road is affected by the falling debris due to the wind. The drivers try weaving through the available space and may end up rear-ending other cars. The road may also be blocked due to weather conditions, and unknowingly the driver may end up rear-ending the stalled vehicles.
Bad weather also affects the visibility of traffic signals and signs. The driver may not recognize when a traffic precaution is implied by the changing signs hence may end up rear-ending the cars in front of them. Bad weather conditions cause malfunctioning of traffic signs. The timing of those signals may affect the prompt actions from drivers causing rear-ending accidents.
Icy roads are slippery, causing the cars, especially those with treadless tires, often skin, and slip. The ice also makes available space limited. Even on a highway with multiple lanes, the falling ice reduces the size of the road in which the driver can negotiate. The skidding cars weave through the lanes and can end up rear-ending other vehicles since the brakes are difficult to apply.
Rains cause the road surface to be wet. Some roads have potholes that are filled with water. The drivers are forced to drive over the pools of water. A water column builds up around the wheel of the car, insulates the tires, and reduces its traction with the ground. This hydroplaning increases with the speed of the vehicle and this affects the driver’s control of the car. In some instances, hydroplaning causes rear-end accidents.
Tail-gating is the situation where a vehicle follows another car in front of them closely. The failure to maintain a safe distance which would allow ample time for stopping in case the driver at the front makes a stop leading to rear-ends accidents. The safety distance maintained would depend on the weather conditions, the road conditions, and reduced visibility of the traffic. The common reasons for tail-gating:
- Some drivers cut other drivers off while on the road. This aims at blocking the driver from attempting to cut or merge in the traffic in front of the tail-gating car. Cutting someone off is common in heavy traffic where drivers try changing to faster-moving lanes.
- Tail-gating can also occur in trailing where the drivers are acquainted or known to each other. For instance, a motorcade of a prominent person where the drivers do not want other vehicles affecting the motorcade. The leading driver could also be directing the others who are likely to tail-gate, which could result in rear-ending accidents if sudden stops occur at any instance
- Slipstreaming where a car wants to take advantage of the aerodynamic principle to conserve fuel. The hypermiling drivers usually turn off the engine and drive in the neutral state while tail-gating a large vehicle to take advantage of the reduced wind resistance. In this neutral condition, there is a high possibility of brake failure especially with old cars which may cause tail-gating accidents
- Coercing the driver in front to give way, which may lead to accidents when the leading driver is adamant. The leading driver may not give way to avoid breaking the law
- Negligent driving where the drivers disregard the need to keep a safe distance by considering themselves too careful or out of impatience keeps a short distance. This overestimation of their skill often leads to accidents.
Distracted driving is anything that takes the attention of driving because the driver finds it difficult to multitask. Distraction can be in four dimensions:
- Manual, where the body organs involved in the driving are not used for some time to control the vehicle
- Visual, where the eyes divert their focus from the road to something else
- Cognitive, where the mental faculties are drifted from concentrating on the driving activity
- Auditory where the drivers listen to other sounds other than those relevant to keeping safe on the road
Some common forms of distraction when driving is:
- Use of smartphones while driving to send messages, receive calls, admiring pictures and preening
- Tending to restless kids and pets
- Noise from a loud playing entertainment device by passengers and children
- Grooming activities such as applying makeup and fixing a tie
- Any form of ingestion such as eating, drinking or smoking
- Looking for directions like looking for vital signs of the destination and filling GPS details into the phone
- One can also be daydreaming normally due to preoccupation with other things. In this way, they don’t concentrate on the road.
Most accidents, rear-end not exempted, happen when the driver is close to home, familiar places, or their destination since they get careless due to being in familiar zones. Preoccupation with what they would do eminently, being used to the general flow of traffic in the area, and adjusting to fit the destination contributes to rear-end accidents. Rear-end accidents can also happen during slow traffic when a driver is distracted and only recovers from the distraction only to drive erroneously. Distractions can also cause accidents when the driver:
- Is not alert when the traffic signals indicate a stop or slowing
- Is not careful enough to give way to a vehicle merging or changing lane
- Fails to hear a traffic warning such as a hooting motorist or a siren of select vehicles
Driving Under the Influence
Operating a vehicle under the intoxication is a severe cause of rear-end accidents. Any form of intoxication can potentially cause accidents. According to Floridian state law, a driver who is in actual control of a vehicle while their blood alcohol concentration is 0.08% or beyond is guilty of driving under the influence. This intoxication is a chargeable and potential risk of rear-ending accidents. Sometimes the BAC does not need to exceed the legal limit, but one only needs to be impaired to a collision risk level.
In Florida, people aged below 21 should not have a BAC of 0.02% and above. The situation gets worse when they drive since, at this level, one can still rear-end another vehicle. The alcohol has the following effects depending on the scales:
- At 0.02% the driver’s visual capability is reduced, and their ability to multitask is destroyed
- At 0.05% the driver the driver’s coordination is deficient, they have difficulty with steering and cannot make a timely response to emergencies
- At 0.08% and above BAC, the ability to concentrate is profoundly impaired, and the short-term memory is debilitated. Consequently, the driver cannot monitor the vehicle’s speed and process the information as required by circumstances such as a sudden stop by the leading driver.
It is apparent that at any level of intoxication with alcohol or any form of the drug, whether prescribed or recreational, can lead to rear-end car accidents.
Making Sudden Stops
The driver may sometimes make sudden stops, which may cause rear-ending accidents. The reasons for sudden stops include:
- Distractions to the driver such as using the mobile phones and other distractions as mentioned above which makes the driver lose control of the vehicles speed
- The driver may want to avoid hitting objects thrown on the highway by inclement weather, a pedestrian or an animal
- Poor visibility due to weather conditions such as fog and mist
- The presence of reckless drivers on the road
- Engine failure
- Another accident ahead of the driver
- Road construction that the driver was oblivion of
- The change in road conditions that were never anticipated
- Presence of police activity that is not expected on that road section
Engine failure is one of the most unfortunate causes of a sudden stop on the roads. It causes the most deadly rear-end accidents since, in fast traffic, the car in the rear would automatically smash the one leading due to the sudden stop. The common causes of engine failure are:
- Electrical faults in the vehicle
- Overheating of the engine due to failure of the cooling system
- When the engine dismounts from its sockets due to overworking
- Intense friction which occurs between engine parts due to less engine oil
Sudden stopping drivers are more likely to be rear-ended. The rear-ended drivers may not be at fault, depending on the facts of the accident.
Common Injuries in A Rear-End Accident
The following are the most common injuries in car rear-end accidents:
A significant number of accidents result in this type of injury. The impact of the accident results in the forward thrust of the neck forward beyond the normal range of motion and leaning. The whipping tears or strains the soft tissues of your neck. Whiplashes occur mostly when the driver is unprepared for the thrust, like having a seatbelt around the neck. The forward thrust of the torso may also cause injuries when the belts are stretched beyond the elastic limit. Whiplashes are painful and require a great deal of physiotherapy to heal.
The force of the rear-end accident may sometimes throw the driver forward intensely, hitting them against the steering wheel. The airbag may also deploy and cause burns and lacerations to the face. The blisters may be deep enough to reach the brain besides the impact of knocking against the wheel.
The force of rear-ending often leads to a sudden change of posture. The driver is stuffed in the limited cabin, and usually, the legs, the arm, and the trunk are haphazardly thrown over the limited space. The compressional effect breaks the wrist legs and ribs. The chest bones are also affected by force when the driver is not braced for it. Too intense rear-end accidents convolve the driver at the footrest of the cabin. Injuries such as broken backbone and spinal cord injuries may result. The disks may also be herniated-slipping out of their position in the vertebrae.
Liability in a Rear-End Car Accident
The rear-ending driver is at-fault, but it is not in all cases. However, the rear-ending driver is always partially liable. The driver responsible for the accident is the negligent one, the driver who acted in a way any reasonable driver in their position would not have done. The negligent driver breached their duty of exercising care while in the traffic. The drivers are remiss if they:
- Fail to stop timely
- Lose control of their vehicle
- Fail to keep enough distance for safety purposes
- Fail to give the leading car the right of way when it was due them
- Are inattentive to the accidents and traffic hazards
- Fail to drive within the reasonable limits
The driver of the rear-ended car is also negligent if they do any of the following which leads to the accident:
- If they stop intending to turn but fail to do so
- If the car develops a mechanical problem such as flat tire or engine failure and fails to pull over or issue the hazards signs
- If the brake lights of the rear-ended drivers car are faulty
- Reverses suddenly
If the rear-ended car suddenly stops due to a defect from the manufacturer or the rear-ending driver is pushed from the back by another vehicle, the manufacturer and the driver who begins rear-ending others are responsible.
How Poor Weather Increases the Liability to Accidents
Poor weather only implies an increased duty of the driver to be careful. The driving practice must be adjusted to weather conditions. The weather conditions increase the driver’s liability to the rear-end accident when:
- The car is not serviced to withstand the inclement weather conditions such as winter
- The driver does not leave sufficient space enough to gain control of the vehicle when the weather is terrible.
- The drivers do not plan for more time to reach destination during inclement weather but rush amidst the forbidding conditions
- The driver does not adjust the speed to be consistent with the rough weather conditions
- The driver drives carelessly not knowing that drivers may not be prepared to handle the effects of their reckless driving
The possibility of one’s partial liability to the accident affects their compensation depending on the percentage of contribution and the state law in such a situation. The two types of negligence are:
Contributory negligence is an accident clause held by a few states. This clause makes the rear-ended driver forfeit any compensation if they have even a slight contribution to the rear-ending accident. Florida does not have this clause.
In this clause, the front driver’s contribution to the accident determines the amount of compensation. The jury determines the percentage of their liability, and their payment is calculated, their negligence accounted for. A case of modified comparative negligence occurs when multiple cars are involved in your rear-end accident, and you are compensated if the fault in the accident was caused by another vehicle.
Compensation For Rear-End Accident Car Injuries
The payment for damages in rear-end car accidents depends on:
- Where the plaintiff and defendant live and where the accident happened
- The insurance covers held by both parties
No-Fault State Law
Florida is a no-fault state. The injured driver is entitled to compensation from their insurance coverage regardless of who was at fault. This claim caters to the personal injuries sustained, such as hospitalization bills and pain and suffering. The pain and suffering claim is only valid when they are intense. The plaintiff’s car is fixed or replaced by the at-fault driver’s insurer upon filing a claim for their client’s negligence. This tendency of ignoring who was negligent can be lifted so that a victim pursues claims from the negligent driver’s insurer. The circumstances for this to apply when the plaintiff is:
- Injured intensely and the medical bills shoot beyond the no-fault state compensation cover can cater
- Permanently disabled
- Injured to render them unable ever to work again
Outside, the no-fault state the plaintiff files and is supposed to obtain all compensation from the at-fault driver’s insurance coverage. In a fault state, everyone can sue if the parties are both partially liable for the accident so that each other insurers pay according to the degree of damage.
The situation is often complicated when in a fault state, and the driver is not insured. Here you have the option of suing the uninsured driver and collecting as much as possible for your damages from their assets. Your attorney will guide you in evaluating whether suing the uninsured driver is economical. You will have to turn to your medical insurance cover to cater for your hospitalization bills.
Proving Your Claim
When the rear-ending driver is at-fault, you have to be prepared to prove your claim. This is done by showing that the rear-ending driver:
- Had the duty of care which he/she breached
- Was negligent for driving careless contrary to what a reasonable driver would do
- Is liable for the damages you incurred such as bodily injuries, car damages, hospital bills, lost incomes and any other losses sustained to due to the accident
- Careless caused an accident which directly caused the injuries and damages and these damages would not have occurred were it not for the accident
One needs unquestionable proof for backing the above claims. If you are able, you need to collect sufficient evidence from the accident scene. You should take photos and videos of the accident from multiple angles. Make sure you capture the traffic signals ignored and any other information in the background that can support your claim. You can also take videos on the police statements in the accident scene and sobriety tests. Capture any aggravating proof of negligence, such as beer bottles in the negligent driver’s car.
Collect the evidence from the witnesses, who are neutral third parties, whose testimony is likely to be accepted since they heard and saw differently. Signed and dated written statements are the best evidence you can obtain from them as well as their contact details. If the written statements cannot be produced, then record audio versions of their testimonies.
The investigating police officer report is also reliable since the expertise of the accident construction officer is included. The police reports give an opinionated-close-to-factual consideration of who was at fault.
You need to make detailed notes of your version of circumstances, what transpired before the accident and after. Give details of everything that the seemingly at-fault driver said after the crash.
The medical records are reliable proof of the intensity of your injuries and personal damages due to hospitalization bills. Ensure you avoid personal doctors since a bias may arise for them being deemed to have inflated the treatment cost for their gain or through collusion with you. Ensure that the injury records from the doctor are not presented until the doctor confirms that they are inclusive of all for compensatory purposes lest you lose the ground for further injuries, which may show later.
Find a Jacksonville Personal Injury Attorney Near Me
The process of determining who is at fault in a rear-end car accident can be very controversial. You need an experienced personal injury lawyer to help you in consideration of the details for evaluating the at-fault party and the trajectory of your claim. When you are seriously injured, handling paperwork, arranging for lawsuits, and court attendance can be difficult for you. We at the Jacksonville Personal Injury Attorney have handled personal injury cases from rear-end accidents in Jacksonville and its neighborhood successfully. We will defend you according to the laws of your state and circumstances to ensure you are compensated. Call us today for a free consultation by dialing 904-800-7557.