Did you know that of all the millions of car accidents that take place across the nation every year, a majority (more than 80 percent, or about 2.5 million accidents) involve someone being struck from the rear? St. Louis (along with all of Missouri and Illinois) are no exception to this rule, but it is important to note the part that tailgating plays in this sobering statistic. When drivers maintain a safe distance, travel at safe speeds, and pay attention to the road rather than distractions, many of these accidents could easily be prevented.
Always practice caution anytime you drive, regardless of where or how fast you’re going; additionally, practice defensive driving by paying attention not just to the road and other drivers in front of you, but those around and behind you. Drivers commonly get distracted by any one of a variety of things on the road, in their cars, or on their minds, and those distractions frequently lead to accidents. While that is no excuse for an accident, it is an explanation, and you would do well to keep in mind that even though you stay focused on the roads and drivers all around, constantly scanning for potential hazards, not all other drivers are doing the same.
Rear End Accidents
Typically, the driver who hits the vehicle from behind is declared the one at fault for the accident, and therefore held legally liable for damages and injuries sustained in the wreck. While each accident has its own unique pieces that contributed to the accident, many times rear end accidents happen when the car in front slows down or stops, but the car behind fails to follow suit, and the two collide. When cars don’t leave enough space in front of them, they have that much less time to react or respond when the lead car slows or has to stop, especially if it’s a sudden action. Some of the factors that usually play a part in rear-end accidents in Missouri and Illinois include the following:
- Distracted driving
- Talking or texting on a cell phone while driving
- Eating, drinking, or smoking
- Using the vehicle’s navigation system, radio, or CD player
- Other factors
- Speeding – Regardless of which car speeds, it makes it that much more difficult to stop in time, and causes a great number of accidents every year.
- Tailgating – This is one of the most dangerous things many drivers do; tailgating gives drivers much less time to react to the actions of the driver in front.
- Alcohol and drugs – Naturally, driving under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol is patently illegal, but it also contributes to a huge number of accidents every year; when drivers are drunk or high, they aren’t able to react as fast, which causes accidents.
- Changing lanes – Drivers who change lanes with little or no warning to those around them cause undue stress and pressure to others; when a driver cuts in front of another, this can cause a rear-end accident where the driver in front may be found at fault.
- Running a light – Rear-end accidents commonly occur when the car in front stops at a yellow light the car in back intended to speed through.
- Weather – In order to avoid accidents of any kind while driving in inclement weather, slow down, allow a safe distance between you and the car in front of you; any time you drive in conditions with decreased or limited visibility, there’s the chance you could crash.
- Braking too hard or fast – When drivers think they have a greater distance before they need to stop, it can easily result in a rear-end accident; when they think they have a shorter distance before they need to stop, it can have the same result.
- Mechanical failure – Insufficiently treaded tires and worn brakes are just two elements that can cause rear-end accidents.
Rear End Collision Injuries
Even when rear end accidents happen at low speeds, they can cause a multitude of life-altering injuries. While most people choose to buckle up each and every time they drive or ride in an automobile (it is the law, after all), and cars come equipped with air bags and other safety equipment, serious injuries can happen in any kind of accident, regardless of speed. Rear end accident injuries commonly include:
- Head and brain injuries
- Neck, back, and spine injuries
- Bruises and abrasions (cuts)
- Carpal tunnel injuries and broken bones
- Leg, knee, and ankle injuries
- Facial bruises and lacerations
Even if you feel okay at the accident scene or even after a day or two, you should refrain from making any statements regarding your physical or mental state until after you have seen a doctor and discussed your injuries caused by the accident. It is very possible that you may not feel the full extent of your injuries until a few days or even a week after the accident. Until you have discussed the accident and your case with your doctor and lawyer, you should not make any written or verbal statements to the other driver, their insurance company, their attorney, or your insurance company.
Presumption Of Fault In Rear End Accidents
In Missouri and Illinois, the trailing driver is presumed to be at fault; however, there are a couple of circumstances in which the trailing driver is usually not found at fault. If you hit the car in front of you, you have a right to argue that you were not at fault. The following instances are examples wherein you could make a reasonable argument that the driver in front should be held liable:
- If a driver cut too closely in front of you while braking, they could be found at fault. By pulling their car too close in front, they cut your stopping distance – in a way, they forced you to tailgate them. They may have done this on purpose (i.e., road rage or insurance fraud) or unintentionally (i.e., negligence); regardless, they should be found liable for the accident and your injuries and damages.
- If you have come to a full and complete stop at a stop sign or signal when another car hits you from behind and that causes you to hit the car in front of you, the car that hit you will be held responsible for their failure to stop in time to avoid the accident.
If you have been involved in a car accident (especially where someone hit you from behind) in the St. Louis area, call to talk to one of the experienced attorneys at Walton Telken today. If your accident-related injuries have made it uncomfortable or impossible for you to come to one of our offices, we are happy to travel to you. When you meet with one of our attorneys, they will listen to your story, discuss the options available to you, and help you decide which route will best suit your needs and wants. You have the right and responsibility to hold the other driver responsible for their actions; they should reimburse you for your medical bills and whatever it costs to fix or replace your car, plus any other damages arising from the accident. Our attorneys will also tell you about the option of taking your case on contingency, meaning that if we don’t win your case, we don’t get paid, so call us today toll free at (844) 307-7349.