A Guide to Rear-End Accidents

rear end accident

A rear-end accident occurs when a vehicle is hit from behind by another vehicle. Damage to both the vehicle and its occupants depends on a variety of factors and can range from minor to deadly.

When are injured in a rear-end car accident, you deserve thorough compensation for all of your losses. A car accident attorney from Lovell, Lovell, Isern & Farabough, LLP can help set things right by holding the at-fault party or parties accountable and fighting for your financial compensation.

Rear-End Accident Statistics

In the most recent full year of data collection, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported 1,457,155 rear-end collisions, which represents 27.8% of all motor vehicle accidents. Of this total:

  • 2,428 produced fatalities
  • 417,062 led to injuries
  • 1,037,665 caused property damage

Rear-end collisions were the most common type of car accident reported.

Determining Fault in a Rear-End Accident

The default supposition in rear-end collisions is that the driver who crashed into the vehicle in front of them is at fault. Vehicle operators are expected to keep a safe distance between their vehicles and the one in front of them. NHTSA holds that three or four seconds is a “safe” amount of time that should pass when one vehicle passes an object and then your vehicle does.

When a driver crashes into the vehicle in front of them, the assumption is that the driver did not leave enough space, and therefore enough time, to come to a safe stop. It could also be the case that the driver was not paying attention and failed to see the other car slowing down or stopped.

Negligence in Rear-End Accidents

To be held legally accountable for paying damages to rear-end accident victims, the at-fault driver must be proven negligent. All drivers owe others sharing the road a duty to both avoid bad and dangerous driving behaviors and to practice driving in a way that keeps others on the road safe. For example, all drivers are expected to avoid driving while intoxicated, to follow all traffic laws, and to keep a safe distance between their vehicles and those in front of them.

A driver’s failure to maintain this safe distance is a breach of their duty of care to those they share the road with. A skilled car accident lawyer will gather evidence proving this breach led to your rear-end accident, which then caused you to suffer physical injuries.

Injuries Caused by Rear-End Collisions

Rear-end accidents typically follow one of these scenarios:

  • The rear driver rolls at a low rate of speed into the back of the front driver’s vehicle
  • The rear driver, traveling at a moderate or fast rate of speed, crashes into the front driver’s vehicle, which is at a complete stop
  • The rear driver travels faster than the front driver and collides with the front vehicle while both are moving at a moderate or high rate of speed

Usually, the second and third scenarios are the ones causing the most serious damage. However, even a slow-speed rear-end collision can cause significant injury and property damage. Your best course of action is to connect with a car accident lawyer as soon as possible after your crash, no matter the accident’s visible severity.

Be sure to get prompt medical attention after your car accident. Injuries sustained in rear-end collisions often have a delayed onset. Failure to see a doctor can cause your condition to worsen and give the at-fault driver the opportunity to offset your claim of negligence against them. They may argue that your failure to seek medical care means the injuries weren’t caused by the rear-end accident. Though injuries of any type can be the result of a rear-end crash, some of the most common affect the neck, back, head and brain, or spinal cord.


When you are hit from behind, the impact often causes your neck to move in a “forceful, rapid back-and-forth movement…like the cracking of a whip,” according to the Mayo Clinic. While some incidents of whiplash heal within a few weeks of medication and treatment, others have lasting effects, leaving victims with chronic pain or limited neck mobility.

Back Injuries

The blunt impact from a rear-end collision can cause compression of the spine, or compression of discs, especially in the lower spine. Back muscles can also experience severe bruising. In either case, you are likely to experience significant pain, maybe permanently, and changes to how you move through life. You may have trouble lifting objects, walking, sitting or lying in certain positions, and even carrying out daily hygiene activities.

Head and Brain Injuries

Upon a rear impact, your head may be thrust forward, crashing against the windshield, the dashboard, or a deployed airbag. You may experience lacerations, bruising, scarring, or other disfigurement.

Depending on the force of the impact, you may sustain a traumatic brain injury, such as a concussion or brain bleed, that can lead to cognitive impairment, personality changes, and physical limitations if the brain cannot communicate messages to your body systems.

Spinal Cord Injuries

When specific parts of the brainstem or spinal cord are damaged in a rear-end collision, you can experience partial or total paralysis.

Collecting Damages Following a Rear-End Collision

The injuries, property damage, and additional consequences that come from a rear-end accident make it critical that you receive a substantial settlement or verdict at trial. While each case is different, your personal injury attorney will assess your situation with precision so you can:

  • Cover medical costs and future care needs. Your lawyer will consult with medical experts to calculate an adequate amount.
  • Recoup lost income for work days and wages missed while you recovered. If you cannot return to work, your attorney will determine an amount to cover your future lost earnings and other benefits.
  • Recover property damages. Though some cars are destroyed in these collisions, even “minor” rear-end collisions often produce frame damage leading to rapid wear-and-tear of the vehicle’s systems, issues with alignment, electrical problems, and trunk damage.
  • Be compensated for your pain, emotional distress, and diminished quality of life.

If your loved one is killed in a rear-end accident, an Amarillo car accident lawyer can help you pursue a wrongful death claim to cover end-of-life costs, recover lost income, and acknowledge your loss of relationship and affection.

Talk to Us. We Can Help.

The car accident lawyers at Lovell, Lovell, Isern & Farabough, LLP, are here to help you get the financial compensation you need to move forward in your recovery. We will listen to your situation with compassion and provide you with fierce, knowledgeable legal representation. Contact us today to start working toward getting you what you need now to recover and putting you on stable financial ground moving forward.

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Talk to a member of our legal team today. We are Board Certified in Oil, Gas and Mineral Law; Civil Trial Law; and Personal Injury Trial Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. We have won awards including Texas Super Lawyers Rising Stars in Energy & Natural Resources and Texas Super Lawyers in General Litigation and Personal Injury. Many of us are rated AV Preeminent by Martindale-Hubbell – the highest possible rating for ethics and skill in our industry. All communication is kept confidential and private.