It can happen while you’re sitting at a stoplight or slowing down for traffic. Suddenly, a car from behind slams into you. Even with the best intentions and a great driving record, you can become the victim in a rear-end accident. In serious cases, injuries from rear-end accidents can change the course of your life, forcing you to receive costly medical care.
Unfortunately, many drivers don’t take the dangers of the road seriously, and in turn, don’t pay attention as much as they should. Fortunately, the team at Huber Thomas & Marcelle can provide guidance on the best ways to recover after an accident, including rear-end collisions. Whether you’ve recently been in an accident or simply want to be prepared if the worst happens, here’s what you should know.
What is a rear-end accident?
While collisions can happen in a variety of ways, a rear-end accident is one of the most common. In 2019, there were more than 50,000 rear-end crashes in the state of Louisiana. Approximately 34% of them resulted in injuries, while another 35% caused property damage. Shockingly, 12% of these rear-end collisions were fatal, which speaks to the seriousness of this type of accident.
This type of crash involves a car hitting the one in front of it. This can be due to a variety of factors, including:
- Driver inattention or distraction
- Weather conditions that lead to icy or slippery roads
In some cases, the initial force can lead to a domino effect. On highways, pile-ups are caused by the first accident that leads to several others cars colliding with the vehicle in front of them. This chain reaction can lead to high levels of injury and property damage.
What types of injuries are common after rear-end accidents?
When it comes to accidents on the road, the resulting injuries can be devastating. Victims often deal with long-lasting side effects and mounting medical bills. Some of the most common types of injuries after rear-end accidents include:
- Whiplash: This occurs when your head is violently jolted in one direction and then the other, often leading to neck pain and headaches
- Lower back injuries: Ruptures, tears, fractures, or dislocation of the ligaments and muscles in the lower back region can occur after a collision
- Spinal cord injuries: In severe cases, an accident can lead to damage to the bony vertebrae of your spinal column—the structure that transmits sensory information from your body to your brain
- Traumatic brain injury (TBI): Brain damage can result from a violent blow, blast, or jolt to the head, with often long-lasting effects
- Broken bones: Broken ribs to broken legs, arms, and even shoulders and pelvises are all possible during a collision
While these are some of the most common injuries after rear-end collisions, this list is just the beginning. Victims of car accidents can suffer from a range of different injuries and conditions after a crash. It’s important to seek emergency care immediately in order to improve your chances of making a full recovery.
It’s also worth noting that many injuries can appear over time. You may walk away feeling fine, but really be in shock. In the days or weeks to come, pain and soreness can crop up or you may finally feel the effects of whiplash or injuries. For this reason, we always recommend that you visit your doctor for a check-up after an accident, even if you feel okay. Seemingly invisible effects of a car accident can be dangerous if they're allowed to get worse over time.
Who is at fault after a rear-end accident in Louisiana?
In most rear-end collisions, the fault will come down on the trailing driver because he or she created the initial impact. Simply put, every driver is expected to maintain a safe distance from the car in front of them in order to avoid rear-end collisions.
Louisiana law (R.S. 32:81) clearly states:
“The driver of a motor vehicle shall not follow another vehicle more closely than is reasonable and prudent, having due regard for the speed of such vehicle and the traffic upon and the condition of the highway.”
While it is rare, there are instances when the driver who was hit may be partially to blame for a rear-end accident. Some examples that could lead to this scenario include:
- Failing to repair a broken tail light or forgetting to turn on hazard lights after a mechanical failure or accident
- Stopping for no reason in the middle of the road
- Reversing without reason or without adequate notice
- Driving erratically, such as going much faster than the speed limit, darting in and out of traffic, and cutting other drivers off
Every rear-end accident is different. A variety of factors can lead to the initial impact and any subsequent damage done to surrounding vehicles.
At Huber Thomas & Marcelle, our skilled car accident lawyers can review the specifics of your crash and discuss your options. If you're injured or have extensive property damage, they can discuss potential remedies and legal solutions for getting the compensation you need to recover fully.
What should I do after a rear-end collision?
Any type of car accident can feel overwhelming in the moment, but it’s important to keep a clear head and complete a few tasks. Your first priority should always be to call for help, especially if you notice any injuries right away. It doesn’t matter if it seems to be minor, it’s best to have a doctor take a closer look.
If there aren’t any evident injuries, you’ll still need to call police. An officer will come out to the scene to write up a formal crash report. This document can be very helpful when dealing with the other party and insurance companies.
Once you’ve called your local police department, follow these three important next steps:
- Get contact information for the drivers involved: Don’t leave without getting information from the other drivers involved in the crash. This should include their name, phone number, license plate, and insurance information.
- Talk to witnesses: Did anyone see the crash happen? Perhaps someone was in a nearby parking lot or restaurant. Maybe another driver saw the crash happen and pulled over to help. Exchange information with these witnesses. You may need firsthand accounts later on to support your case.
- Gather evidence: If you’re in a safe place, begin to gather evidence from the site of the rear-end accident. Take photos of the entire area, as well as any property damage to cars or skid marks on the road.
We cover the other important steps you should take after a car accident in our earlier post.
Get help after a rear-end accident in Louisiana
Once you’ve returned home, you should contact an experienced car accident lawyer. This isn’t the time to go it alone. Too often people believe they can go through this experience without representation, only to miss out on the compensation they need to recover fully.
It’s also important to note that even if you were partially at fault during a crash, you may still be eligible for compensation, whether it’s for medical bills or vehicle damage. Don’t let insurance companies shift all of the blame onto you.
At Huber Thomas & Marcelle, you’ll have a skilled car accident attorney by your side to guide you through the complex legal process. Plus, you'll always benefit from multiple viewpoints and areas of expertise through our team's collaborative approach. Beyond car accidents, we also have experience helping our clients with accidents that involve pedestrians, motorcycles, semi-trucks, and more.
To learn about how we can help after an accident, we encourage you to browse our previous case victories. If you've been in a rear-end accident and want to ensure that you receive a fair settlement, contact us today for a free consultation.