Rear-End Accident Cases

Most car accident cases are rear-end accident cases.  Inevitably, we’ve all been driving and not been paying enough attention.  The car in front stops unexpectedly and we have to slam on the brakes to avoid a car crash.  Usually, we all stop in time.  Once in awhile, however, these lead to car crashes.  Some may even be serious enough to produce significant personal injury.  Any car accident attorney will be well versed in rear-end accident cases.  From simple whiplash cases to wrongful death, rear-end accidents can come in many forms.  Especially when the following vehicle is travelling at high speeds or is a large semi-truck, catastrophic personal injury cases can arise.

Even at low speeds, we can suffer significant personal injuries.  Low speed accidents often lead to their most significant personal injuries when you don’t anticipate being hit.  If you look in your rear-view mirror and see a car is about to hit you, you will clench up and brace for impact.  This natural reaction engages your muscles to help protect your spine and neck.  When the vehicle hits you, your spine, neck and head remain relatively static and better protected.  However, if you don’t see the crash coming, you are more likely to be seriously injured by whiplash.  This can lead to spinal disc problems or worse.

Take the example of a the football player.  When a football player is running and sees he is about to be hit, he braces for impact and remains relatively uninjured.  However, when he is blindsided, his neck snaps, he lands awkwardly and the medical staff has to come onto the field.  This can lead to a concussion, broken bones, or even the end of a football career.  Now imagine that instead of being hit by another person, you are being hit by a car.

Insurance companies often play down the significance of rear-end accidents to avoid having to pay out expensive insurance claims.  Fighting them alone can be an uphill battle.  Vancouver Washington personal injury lawyer Roger Priest can help you deal with the insurance company and show them that your injury claim is significant.  We can help you recover a fair settlement or go to trial where the insurance company won’t treat you fairly.

Rear-End Car Accident Liability

Generally speaking, the primary duty to avoid rear-end car accidents belongs to the car that is following.  Unless there is an emergency or bizarre circumstances, the car that rear-ends another car will be at fault for the car crash.  It is often not necessary to prove an affirmative act of negligence against a driver who rear-ends your vehicle.  In rare circumstances, however, it may be necessary to prove negligence more pointedly if there are mitigating circumstances.  Mitigating circumstances are extraordinary facts that negate fault.  For instance, if a driver has a heart attack and then rear-ends the car in front of it, there may be no negligence.  To prove negligence you may need to prove extra facts that show the driver should have been more careful.  For instance, perhaps he forgot to take his heart pills and should have known that medical complications were a natural consequence.

Am I at fault for being rear-ended?

Drivers are generally entitled to assume they will not be rear-ended by drivers who follow them.  Because drivers are required to follow at a safe distance under the law, you are allowed to assume that drivers that follow you will follow the rules of the road.  You are allowed to make emergency stops when you are driving.  If a child runs out in front of your car, rest assured that Washington law allows (and requires) you to make an emergency stop.  Therefore, you need not worry about being found liable for slamming on your brakes if you are in a legitimate emergency that requires you to do so.  You may stop freely to avoid running  a red lights and yellow lights in almost every instance.

Washington law does, however, require that you give an appropriate signal of your intention to stop if you are able to.  How do you do this, you may ask?  Simple.  You must have functioning brake lights or use proper hand signals.  If your car does not have brake lights and you slam on your brakes, you may be partially at fault for the car accident.  Additionally, if you slam on your brakes aggressively or “brake check” the car that is following too closely, you may be partially at fault for the car accident.  Because you too owe a duty to avoid accidents to the other drivers around you, you must take reasonable steps to avoid accidents.  Driving safely and making sure your car equipment is in good working order are two important aspects of your own duty as a driver.