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Common Rear-End Accident Injuries

Houston rear-end accident lawyers discuss whiplash, concussions, and more

One of the most common and most misunderstood types of car accidents are rear-end collisions. Nearly 30 percent (29.7 percent) of all motor vehicle accidents are rear-end accidents, according to crash data compiled by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). That’s nearly 1.7 million rear-end crashes every year.

And while some rear-end accidents are minor, many are much more serious than people might realize. Even a so-called “fender bender” at 10 mph can result in serious injuries. And rear-end accidents are no exception.

So which rear-end accident injuries are the most common? Why do these particular injuries often occur in rear-end collisions? What medical treatments are available? And who’s responsible for paying for the accident? You can find the answers to these questions and more information below. And if you have a legal question about your rear-end accident injury claim or lawsuit, contact a Houston car accident attorney at Smith & Hassler, Attorneys at Law.

What are common rear-end accident injuries?

When one car crashes into the back of another car, certain injuries often occur, including:

  • Whiplash – Painful neck injury caused by the neck muscles being strained or sprained.
  • Neck Injury – Along with whiplash, other neck injuries often occur, including neck fractures and torn ligaments or strained neck muscles.
  • Head Injury – From concussions to skull fractures, serious head injuries often occur in rear-end crashes.
  • Seat Belt Injury – Chest injuries, shoulder injuries, and upper back injuries often occur due to the seatbelt tightening quickly during a collision. Seatbelts are designed to function this way during a car crash, but they can also cause serious, painful injuries.
  • Back Injury – Back pain and injuries in the lower back, including pinched nerves and strained back muscles, can be very painful.
  • Broken Bones – Bone fractures in the hands, arms, legs, and feet often occur, including compound bone fractures.
  • Cuts or Lacerations – Sharp objects and other flying debris in a vehicle can cause serious cuts. Other times, lacerations occur due to the driver or front-seat passenger being thrown forward into the windshield or another part of the car.
  • Internal Organ Damage – Kidney damage and liver damage often occur as a result of car accident collisions.
  • Internal Bleeding – Either due to the force of the impact of the crash or a sharp object penetrating the body, internal bleeding can be serious and potentially life-threatening.

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Why is whiplash so common in rear-end accidents?

Whiplash is caused by violent forward and backward motion of the head that causes hyperextension and hyperflexion of the neck. This is common in rear-end collisions because the driver and passengers in the front car are thrown forward by the force of the impact from behind.

Whiplash is one of the most misunderstood car accident injuries. Because whiplash can occur in a low-speed crash, some people don’t think whiplash is real or that it’s a serious neck injury. But whiplash injury victims know just how painful and upsetting such injuries can be.

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What are common rear-end accident head injuries?

Perhaps the most common rear-end accident head injury is a concussion. This is a type of traumatic brain injury (TBI) in which the brain is injured due to striking the inside of the skull. Concussions can occur even if you don’t hit your head on anything – any violent forward or backward motion of the head can be enough to cause a brain injury.

Other common head injuries include:

  • Skull fracture, often caused by the head hitting the dashboard or the windshield.
  • Facial cuts or lacerations, often due to the driver or front-seat passenger being thrown forward into the windshield.

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Why do certain injuries occur in rear-end crashes?

Most rear-end injuries are caused by the force of the car in back hitting the car in front. Depending on how much faster the car in back is going, the injuries sustained by people in the front car can be very serious. This is especially true if the car in front was completely stopped and the car in back was traveling at a high rate of speed. But even if there is only a slight difference in speed between the two vehicles, rear-end collisions can be quite serious.

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What medical treatments are available?

Depending on the nature of your injuries, treatment for a rear-end crash may include:

  • Emergency surgery, especially for a life-threatening injury like internal bleeding or organ damage.
  • Rest and recovery, which can last days or weeks depending on the severity of the injury. For example, whiplash and concussions often require injury victims to rest at home or in a hospital room for several days.
  • Follow-up doctor’s appointments to monitor injury victim’s progress.
  • Physical therapy for injuries such as fractures and ligament tears.
  • Pain management, especially if an injury such as whiplash results in long-term pain.
  • Cast or splint for bone fractures (broken bones).

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Common rear-end accident injury symptoms?

Symptoms of a serious injury can cover a wide range depending on the type of injury. Common symptoms include:

  • Neck pain
  • Headaches
  • Back pain
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Poor balance or dizziness
  • Difficulty walking
  • Nausea or vomiting

You know yourself best. If something does not seem right, seek immediate medical attention. Some rear-end accident injuries can be life-threatening. That’s why it’s critical that anyone experiencing any symptoms after a rear-end crash talk to a doctor right away.

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How much can I be compensated for my rear-end accident injury?

Like most states, Texas has an at-fault car insurance system. This means the at-fault party is responsible for paying for all injury-related expenses. So if you were involved in a rear-end collision caused by another driver, you should be financially compensated for all your expenses. What you might not realize is just how many expenses this might include:

  • All past, present, and future medical care related to your rear-end accident injury.
  • The cost of repairing your damaged vehicle or buying a new one if your car is deemed a total loss.
  • Replacement income if you need time off from work to recover from your injury.
  • Future income if you cannot return to work or can only work in a reduced capacity due to a permanent disability.

Add all these expenses up, and your rear-end accident claim or lawsuit can easily be worth thousands of dollars or significantly more.

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Who’s responsible for paying for my rear-end accident?

As explained above, the at-fault party is responsible for paying for your accident-related expenses. In a rear-end accident, that’s almost always the driver of the rear vehicle (and by extension, their insurance company).

But in certain circumstances, there may be different or additional at-fault parties, including:

  • Bar, restaurant, or liquor store that sold the at-fault driver alcohol if they were already intoxicated. In such cases, you may be able to file a dram shop claim or lawsuit against the business.
  • Company that manufactured the vehicle, if a mechanical issue such as defective brakes or tires was a contributing factor in your collision.

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Who’s at fault in a rear-end accident?

In most cases, the driver in back who hit the car in front is the at-fault driver. However, in some cases, the driver in front may be at fault – for instance, if their brake lights weren’t working, or if they backed into the other car.

Fault can also get complicated in chain reaction rear-end accidents. For example, one driver might rear-end another driver, who rear-ends the driver in front. In this case, usually, the driver of the rearmost vehicle would be at fault, not the driver of the middle vehicle – but, again, it can vary depending on the situation.

When in doubt about what was at fault, always talk to an attorney as soon as possible.

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How can a Texas rear-end accident lawyer help?

You might think you don’t need a lawyer if someone else clearly caused your rear-end collision. The problem is your case may not be that straightforward. Disputes over fault are uncommon in rear-end cases – there’s a strong presumption that the rear driver is responsible – but they do happen in some circumstances. More commonly, the insurance company may dispute the extent of your injuries or downplay your damages, especially if the crash happened at a low speed.

Whatever the circumstances of your crash, make sure you fully understand your legal rights. Make sure you talk to an experienced Houston rear-end accident attorney at Smith & Hassler, Attorneys at Law. We have years of experience handling such complex injury claims and lawsuits throughout Texas. When you have our legal team on your side, you can demand the money you rightfully deserve.

Discover what we can do for you. Contact us and schedule a free case evaluation with a Houston car accident attorney you can trust. We have four offices conveniently located throughout the Houston area. Our lawyers work on a contingency fee basis. That means you only have to pay us if we secure a financial settlement or verdict for your rear-end accident injury. There’s no downside to getting answers about your legal rights.

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Click here to download a printable PDF of this article, "Common Rear-End Accident Injuries."

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