Rear End Collisions

Rear End Collisions, which occur when the front bumper of a car strikes the back bumper of the car in front of it, is the most common type of automobile accident. They are also known as “whiplash accidents” because the nature of the collision often results in a whiplash injury for the driver in the front car. If involved in a rear end collision, it is important to know your rights as an insurance consumer because often, insurance companies try to negate the claims on the basis that little damage may have been done to the car.

According to the National Safety Council, over two and a half million rear end collisions are reported every year, making them the most common type of accident. They occur more and more frequently as time goes on. When they occur, the front bumper of the car in the back collides with the back bumper of the car in the front transferring all the energy from the rear car to the forward one. This is a sudden and powerful jolt for any type of car, even at very low speeds.

Often rear end collisions are the result of inattentiveness on the part of the rear driver. Driver distractions such as the radio, passengers in the car, and especially cellular phones can lead to rear end collisions as they take the driver's attention away from the road in front of them. Commonly, rear end collisions are thought to be the fault of the rear driver. However, in circumstances when the forward driver creates a hazard that the rear car cannot avoid, fault lies with the forward driver.

Ideally, the rear bumper of a car should be designed to protect the occupants of the car as much as possible in a rear end collision. However, this is not really the case with most cars. The only government specification for rear bumpers is that they be able to absorb a 5-mph collision without visible damage. This flimsy standard has led car companies to design rear bumpers to protect not so much the inhabitants of a car, but the car itself. For car owners, this means that they drive cars with substandard protection in the rear bumper and frequently pay the price of injury in rear end collisions.

Whiplash for the driver of the front car in a rear end collision is a common injury. The force of a rear end collision, when the rear car’s energy is transferred to the front car, can be great even at low speeds. The impact of a rear end collision will send the body of the front car quickly forward, bringing with it any body parts the occupants have against the seat. This means that while an occupant’s entire body is thrown forward, the head, which is not touching the seat, stays stationary and is virtually whipped back. Then when the forward car comes to a stop, the occupant’s head goes from whipped backwards to thrown forward over the torso. This motion frequently results in injury for the spine. The injury is known “acceleration/deceleration injury,” “hypertension/hyperflexion,” and most commonly, “whiplash.”

It is important to know your rights as an insurance consumer if you are involved in a rear end collision. Often, car companies claim that since the damage to the car is minimal or non-existent, the occupants of the car must not have been injured. This claim is false, as studies have proven that spinal injuries can occur even in very low speed accidents. Hiring a lawyer is a good way to fight for your rights if your insurance company tries to rebuff your claims from a rear end collision automobile accident.