Rear End Collisions
Rear-end collisions are among the most common types of auto accidents. These accidents occur when the front end of one vehicle strikes the rear of the other vehicle. This can sometimes set off a chain reaction and cause multiple vehicles to be involved in rear-end wrecks. This scenario is especially common when there is heavy traffic on the road. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), rear-end accidents account for approximately one-third of all motor vehicle accidents. Though these types of accidents rarely cause fatalities, injuries sustained are often more serious than first believed.
At Peake & Fowler, we have several decades of combined experience representing victims of rear-end accidents and all other types of personal injuries in South Carolina. Our attorneys were born and raised here, our families are here, and we are active members of the local community. We have in-depth knowledge of South Carolina personal injury laws, and we have a strong track record of success with these types of cases. We understand what injury victims go through, and we do all we can to make the legal process smooth and seamless. This allows you to focus on your physical and emotional recovery while we seek to recover full financial compensation on your behalf.
Common Causes of Rear-End Wrecks
There are a number of reasons rear-end collisions occur, here are some of the most common:
- Tailgating: In South Carolina, thousands of rear-end accidents happen each year because one car was following the other too closely. Drivers are supposed to maintain at least a three or four-second following distance to stay safe under normal driving conditions. This distance should be increased if there is adverse weather. When motorists do not follow these guidelines, they heighten the danger of colliding with the car in front of them.
- Speeding/Reckless Driving: When someone is speeding excessively or otherwise driving recklessly, they generally have a willful and wanton disregard for following the rules and ensuring the safety of themselves and others on the road. All too often, this type of behavior results in a rear-end wreck.
- Sudden Stops: Sometimes, all it takes to cause a rear-end collision is a sudden stop by one or more vehicles in front of the colliding car. There are times when the lead vehicle has no other choice but to make a sudden stop because of rapid traffic slowdowns or other conditions in front of them. Other times, they might stop suddenly for no apparent reason.
- Distracted Driving: The increased use of smartphones has resulted in a growing number of rear-end wrecks caused by distracted driving. Texting while driving, checking emails on your cell phone, and similar practices are especially dangerous, because they distract drivers in three ways; visually, manually, and cognitively. Very often, drivers who are looking down at their cell phones fail to look up in time to notice that the car in front of them has slowed down.
- Driver Fatigue: Rear-end collisions can be caused by drivers who are tired, fall asleep at the wheel, and collide with the car in front of them without even realizing it. Driver fatigue is especially common among commercial drivers who are often pressured to work long hours without getting enough rest.
- DUI/DWI: Drivers who are impaired by alcohol, illegal drugs, or even prescription drugs tend to have slower reaction times. This can inhibit the ability to slow down enough to avoid a rear-end accident.
- Bad Weather: Heavy rain, fog, ice, and snow can impair visibility and create slippery driving conditions. If drivers don’t adjust to conditions and allow for longer braking distances, they increase the chances of a fender-bender.
- Faulty Brakes: Your ability to stop in time to avoid a rear-end accident depends on having functional brakes. If your brakes, brake lines, or any part of your braking system are faulty, this can heighten the chances of colliding with the car in front of you. When this occurs, the vehicle part manufacturer, designer, supplier, or distributor may be at fault.
As mentioned earlier, rear-end collisions rarely result in fatalities, but serious injuries are possible. One of the most common is known as whiplash. Whiplash occurs when the neck is jolted beyond its normal range of motion, resulting in the muscles and ligaments to become strained. Whiplash can occur even when a vehicle is struck at low to moderate speeds, and this condition can sometimes result in chronic or permanent disability. When occupants of the front vehicle are struck at higher speeds, more severe injuries can occur, such as traumatic brain injury (TBI), broken bones, and many others.
Who is Responsible for a Rear-End Collision?
In South Carolina, the driver of the vehicle that struck the other vehicle from behind is generally considered to be at-fault when there is a rear-end wreck. The reason for this presumption is that the rear driver is usually in a better position to see and avoid the danger of a collision. That said, there are some circumstances in which the front driver may be at-fault. Examples may include instances when the front vehicle did not have functional brake lights, and when the driver of the front vehicle slammed on their brakes for no reason.
Damages in South Carolina Rear-End Accident Cases
If you or a loved one was injured in a rear-end wreck, you may be entitled to damages. These may include:
- Economic Damages: True monetary damages such as medical expenses, rehabilitation costs, and lost wages.
- Non-Economic Damages: Pain and suffering, emotional distress, and other ways in which your quality of life has been diminished.
- Punitive Damages: In very rare cases in which the actions of the responsible party were especially egregious, you could be awarded punitive damages to punish the wrongdoer and help deter similarly bad behavior in the future.
The amount of compensation you are entitled to depends on several factors, such as type and severity of your injuries and the degree to which you may have contributed to the accident. South Carolina is a “modified comparative negligence” state, which means that if an injury victim is found to have contributed to the accident, damages are reduced in proportion to the percentage they are found to be at fault.
Speak with an Experienced South Carolina Rear-End Collision Attorney
Rear-end wrecks can cause lasting injuries, resulting in mounting medical bills, time missed from work, and other losses. If another party is responsible, you deserve to be compensated. If you are in Columbia and the surrounding areas, call the skilled personal injury lawyers at Peake & Fowler at 803-788-4370 to schedule a free consultation, or send a secure and confidential message to us through our online contact form. We will thoroughly analyze your case and advise you of your rights and options, so you can make the most informed decision on what legal avenues you want to pursue.