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In the U.S., a rear-end collision occurs on average once every eight seconds. Rear-end collisions are the third leading cause of car accidents each year, causing anywhere from 5.5 to 6 million accidents. In 2009, these crashes led to $164 billion in costs.
Rear-end collisions can happen any time a rear vehicle strikes the back bumper of a front vehicle. While they may occur at slow speeds at a stoplight or intersection, they may also occur on highways or in traffic when cars are moving. When a rear-end collision occurs anywhere or at any time, property damage and injury may result from the crash.
At Gemma Law Associates, Inc., our Rhode Island accident attorneys are committed to representing those in auto collisions who want to obtain compensation from the driver responsible for the crash.
To learn how we can put our legal experience to work for you after your rear-end accident, contact our Rhode Island rear-end collision attorneys today at our toll-free number or get in touch using our online contact form. Your initial consultation is free, and you pay no legal fees for representation unless we win.
Negligent Driver Behavior Causes Rhode Island Rear-End Collisions
In the vast majority of cases, a rear-end collision is blamed on the driver who is in the vehicle in the back rather than the car in the front. This is because drivers in Rhode Island have a duty to be responsible and safe and to follow the rules of the road. This duty extends to leaving a reasonable driving distance between you and the car in front of you. By definition, if you leave a reasonable distance and follow safely behind, you’ll have plenty of time to stop even if the car in front stops short.
Unfortunately, there are many situations where a driver does fail to stop in time and causes a rear-end crash, and there are many reasons why this type of incident occurs. Some of the most common causes of rear-end crashes, however, include:
- Driving while distracted – A driver who is talking on a cell phone, putting on makeup, brushing his hair, texting, talking to passengers, reaching for items or otherwise failing to pay attention may crash into the car in front of him if he fails to notice that the car has slowed or stopped.
- Tailgating – This is a major primary cause of rear-end collisions. If you follow the other driver too closely, you won’t have time to react when they slow or stop.
- Driving too fast for the speed limit or for road conditions – If you are going too fast, then you may not have complete control over your car. You will also take longer to brake because the more quickly an object is moving, the more difficult it is to slow its momentum and come to a complete stop. For both of these reasons, there’s an increased chance that you will crash into the car in front of you. It is important to realize that if there is snow or ice on the ground, it is also going to take longer to stop — so you should adjust driving speed accordingly.
- Accelerating too rapidly – Rapid acceleration can happen if you go too fast after a stoplight or can happen if you speed up too quickly in traffic.
In each of these situations, the responsibility for the rear-end crash lies with the driver in the vehicle in the back. That driver can be held legally liable for his careless behavior and for causing the resulting crash, and injured victims can get help from a Rhode Island accident lawyer to obtain compensation from the negligent driver.
In some cases, however, other factors may also be involved in causing the wreck. For example, a driver in the front vehicle may fail to use his signal, may stop short or may cut the rear driver off. In these cases, the driver of the front car may bear some responsibility for the crash and may be considered partially at fault.
Under Rhode Island comparative fault laws, the driver in the back can still be sued, but his obligation to pay damages will be reduced by the percentage of fault attributed to the front driver.
Common Injuries in Rear-End Accidents
When a rear-end accident occurs, the drivers in either the front car or the rear car may suffer an injury as a result. In fact, according to the Spine Research Institute, around three million people suffer injuries in the U.S. each year that are attributed to rear-end crashes.
Typically, the higher the speed at which the collision occurs, the more serious the injuries that are likely to result. However, even a rear-end crash with drivers going at relatively slow speeds can cause damage due to the force of the impact or the nature of the way in which the vehicles hit.
The most common injuries that you may suffer as a result of a rear-end crash include:
- Whiplash – Whiplash injuries occur when the impact from a rear-end crash thrusts a driver’s head and neck forward while the seat belt keeps his body in place. The muscles, ligaments and spinal discs of the neck can all be stretched and damaged as a result.
- Soft tissue damage – Soft tissue injury is a broad category of injuries that includes whiplash. Any type of damage to the joints, muscles and ligaments in the body is considered a soft tissue injury.
- Air bag injury – A rear-end crash can result in the triggering of the air bag, which can cause cuts, bruises and broken bones in the face. Air bag injuries may be especially dangerous to children. This is why kids under 12 should sit in the back.
Compensation for Rear-End Collision Victims
According to the Rhode Island driver’s manual, drivers in the state are expected to maintain a safe following distance of three seconds. When the car in front of you drives by a fixed point, three seconds should pass before you go by that same point.
When a driver fails to leave a safe following distance, is distracted or is otherwise unreasonably careless in his driving behavior, that driver can become responsible for compensating any victims who are injured in a rear-end accident he causes. Likewise, if a driver in front causes a rear-end crash by cutting someone off or stopping short, he can become responsible for the damages that he causes to accident victims.
Those who are hurt in a rear-end crash can obtain compensation to pay for all of the medical costs associated with their injuries. If they need to miss work because of their injuries, then they can obtain compensation for lost wages. If their earning power is permanently impacted, they can obtain compensation for this reduction in earnings for the rest of their life. Finally, damages for pain and suffering, emotional distress and even wrongful death are available to accident victims or their family members and must be paid by the driver responsible for causing the crash.
Our Rhode Island rear-end accident attorneys can help you to obtain the compensation you deserve. We’ll assist you in proving fault and in negotiating an out-of-court settlement or going to court for damages.
Contact a Rhode Island Rear-End Collision Lawyer Today
If you have suffered a serious personal injury or the loss of a family member in a rear-end crash, contact the Rhode Island rear-end collision lawyers of Gemma Law Associates, Inc., today. Gemma Law represents rear-end accident victims and their families across Rhode Island. We help those in Providence, Pawtucket, Newport, Warwick, Cranston, Bristol or Woonsocket. If you’re an out-of-state driver injured in Rhode Island, we can help you, too.
Call us today at our toll-free number or use our online form. We can provide a free and confidential evaluation of your case, and help you determine your legal options.