Everything You Need To Know About Rear-end Collisions

Rear-end collision is considered one of the most common car crashes, with almost seven percent of fatal traffic-related crashes. These accidents can happen when drivers are distracted, tired, or drunk. It can also occur when drivers merge into highways or attempt to pass other drivers. 

Fortunately, rear-end collisions usually result in minor to moderate injuries. However, this isn’t always the case. Some cases can result in significant harm to the person hit from behind.

Recently, a 63-year-old bicyclist riding his beach cruiser without reflectors sustained injuries after being rear-ended by a 2008 Toyota Corolla. The bicyclist was along the northern part of the 4900 Pacific Highway in Morena, San Diego. The car that struck him was traversing the 4800 highway. The reason for the collision is still unknown, but it left the bicyclist with multiple serious fractures.  

In another case, a police officer had to pay a $1,000 fine after rear-ending a pregnant woman in 2009. The court also ordered the city of Baltimore to pay a settlement of $190,000 to the said victim.  The collision happened while the police officer was driving his patrol cruiser. Unfortunately, the crash resulted in lasting injuries, specifically a herniated disc and neck injuries to the victim. 

You must know your rights if you have been hurt in a rear-end crash. Start with The Personal Injury Center. They have blogs and other legal resources that can provide valuable insights into your case. When you need a personal injury lawyer, you can also access their database for seasoned legal practitioners.

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Key Takeaways
  • There are almost two million rear-end collisions in the United States annually. This is more likely to yield injuries than fatalities.
  • Distracted driving, such as texting or calling, can also contribute to rear-end collisions.
  • To prevent rear-end collisions, maintain a safe following distance and avoid distractions while driving. Also, be aware of the actions of other drivers on the road.

Have you recently been injured in an accident?

What is a rear-end collision?

A rear-end collision is an auto accident when a vehicle strikes someone from behind. These accidents are often minor but can be severe depending on the impact speed and other factors.

Here are some of the accident injuries you might suffer from rear-end car accidents. 


It’s a common injury you suffer when your head is thrown forward and back, causing damage to your neck muscles, ligaments, and tendons. It can result in headaches and muscle soreness that lasts for weeks or even months after a collision. 

Back injuries

The force of a rear-end impact can cause your spine to compress and potentially damage vertebrae, discs, and ligaments. The severity of your back injury depends on factors like the following:  

  • Where you were sitting at the time of the collision
  • How quickly your vehicle stopped after being hit from behind
  • How fast the other vehicle was moving before the crash

Head injuries

In a rear-end crash, your head may strike the steering wheel or dashboard. The force can cause bleeding inside your brain and damage your skull bones.

You may sometimes suffer from concussion or memory loss following a head injury. This is because blood vessels inside your brain have been stretched or torn due to the impact. 

Chest injuries

The force of the impact can cause your chest to slam against the airbag, steering wheel, or seatbelt, causing bruises and fractures. You may also suffer from internal bleeding or organ damage. Some people experience pain in their upper back, neck, and shoulders.

Facial injuries

The impact can cause you to hit your face on the steering wheel, dashboard, or window, causing damage to your nose, mouth, and teeth. You may also suffer from facial cuts and bruises if your head hits the windshield, resulting in broken glass or plastic.

Common Causes of Rear-end Collision 

Being rear-ended can be a traumatic experience. Fortunately, many rear-end collisions are preventable if you can guard against the common causes of rear-end car crashes.

Following too closely

Tailgating puts insufficient space between you and the car in front of you. This can lead to a rear-end collision when the lead driver suddenly steps on the brakes. Aside from whiplash from throwing passengers of both vehicles forward and back, the impact can set off airbags. This can lead to more injuries. 

The best way to prevent this type of accident is to maintain a safe following distance. Following the three-second rule should keep you and others safe regardless of speed.

Distracted driving

Distractions while driving includes any activity that takes your attention away from the road. This may include texting, eating, drinking, and fiddling with controls on your car. If you’re not paying attention to the road, you may only see an obstacle once it’s too late to avoid it. This could lead to severe injuries or even fatalities.

Avoid doing anything that will take your mind, eyes, or hands away from the task at hand. Pull over in a safe place if you must do anything, such as take a call.


When a driver speeds, they are unlikely to have enough time to react effectively to any unexpected. This can lead to rear-end collisions that could have been avoided at slower speeds.

Drivers who speed also brake harder than necessary when stopping and accelerating. This can cause them to lose control of the vehicle.

Traveling about five mph slower than the posted speed limit on multi-lane highways may be a good idea for safety. Slow down even more in bad weather or poor visibility. Many accidents could have been prevented by following this tip.

Poor weather conditions

In many cases, weather conditions are so severe that drivers can’t see a safe distance ahead. Poor visibility makes them susceptible to rear-end collisions. When driving in these conditions, drivers should slow down and adjust their speed accordingly to avoid sliding into another vehicle.

Mechanical failure

When a vehicle’s brakes or steering are not working correctly, it can cause a driver to lose control and crash into another car. This can happen because of poor maintenance or faulty parts. Keep your vehicle in good condition and closely monitor recalls that may affect you.

Ways to Determine Fault in a Rear-end Crash

In a rear-end crash, who is at fault? Many different factors can contribute to a rear-end collision. Knowing who should bear the responsibility in these situations can be difficult. To correctly assess fault, you need to look at the following: 

Evidence from the scene

It’s essential to collect evidence from the scene of a rear-end crash. First, take photos of all vehicles involved. These should be taken from both front and back perspectives. Also, take pictures of any skid marks on the road and any debris that may have been left behind.

Next, look for visible damage to each car. If you can’t see any damage, don’t assume nothing happened. It could be hard to tell if there’s been any damage if you’re unfamiliar with cars or if it’s dark out.

Eyewitness testimony

This is one of the most seamless ways to determine fault in a rear-end crash. Witnesses often have a clear view of what happened. Your lawyer can use their testimony to help determine who was at fault.

However, this evidence can be unreliable and should be viewed cautiously. Witnesses may not have seen the accident clearly or only part of it. They may also have different recollections of the incident based on their perspective and where they were standing when it occurred.

Traffic laws and regulations

It’s essential to consider the relevant traffic laws and regulations to determine fault in a rear-end crash. The first is speed limits. The speed limit on most urban and rural interstate roads is between 55 to 70 miles per hour. This can be lower if driving in a school zone or near hospitals or senior care facilities. If you were driving below this speed limit, you shouldn’t be held liable for the accident.

Next, consider lane position. Drivers must understand which lane they should stay in for a given situation. Suppose you’re driving on an interstate highway with four lanes in each direction. Someone cuts into your lane from behind without signaling first. In that case, that person may be at fault for the accident because they failed to follow state-mandated lane positioning procedures.

Finally, look at stopping distance requirements. In most states, there is a minimum distance requirement between vehicles traveling alongside one another. This ensures enough space between them so that if one car brakes suddenly, it won’t hit the car behind it.

Vehicle’s dashboard camera

The camera records footage of the road ahead and behind your motor vehicle. This can provide evidence about what happened in the accident. Dashboard cameras are becoming increasingly popular among drivers because they protect against insurance fraud. 

Police report

Police officers are trained to collect evidence, which can help you make a case for insurance liability. These reports are also helpful in determining fault because they include witness information. It also includes other details that may help you prove that the person at fault wasn’t paying attention when they rear-ended you.

Medical report

These reports can help you determine whether your injuries were due to the accident and, if so, how severe they are. Suppose you suffered injuries after a rear-end collision. In that case, you must see a medical professional as soon as possible to document your injuries. This will help when you’re trying to prove that the other driver caused your injuries.

Expert witnesses

These experts are often called upon to testify in court proceedings when determining fault in a rear-end crash. An expert witness’s testimony can help determine whether the driver who rear-ended someone was negligent. 

Damages the Guilty Party Needs to Pay 

Damages can be grouped into two: economic and non-economic. The former refers to the actual costs that a plaintiff incurs due to the defendant’s actions, including medical bills and lost wages. On the other hand, the latter refers to non-monetary losses, such as pain and suffering, grief, or loss of companionship. 

Here are the specific damages a rear-end collision victim can rightfully claim. 

  • Special damages: These are damages the injured party incurred due to the defendant’s negligence. This includes expenses like medical bills, lost wages, and property damage.
  • General damages: General damages are compensatory damages. They are meant to compensate the plaintiff for their losses, pain, suffering, and inconvenience. This can also include payment for loss of reputation and disfigurement. 
  • Wrongful death damages: The family of a person who died due to the negligence of another party may be entitled to damages. This is because the deceased was deprived of their life and suffered a loss. This can include emotional distress, burial expenses, and loss of consortium. 
  • Punitive damages: This type of damages punishes the guilty party for particularly egregious or malicious action. These damages are often in addition to general damages, compensating a victim for harm done. 

How can a personal injury lawyer help? 

A car accident attorney can be of benefit in various ways, depending on the circumstances of your case. Here are ways they can offer assistance to you.

  • Investigating the accident: A car accident lawyer can help you build a case for compensation by collecting evidence and interviewing witnesses and experts. They can find out what happened in the moments leading up to the accident.
  • Negotiating with insurance companies: Your personal injury lawyer will lobby your case with insurance companies on your behalf. They will ensure that you get the most compensation possible for your injuries.
  • Filing a lawsuit: A personal injury attorney can file a petition in court. This petition outlines your injuries’ details and shows evidence supporting your claim. 
  • Representing you in court: Personal injury lawyers will fight, so you’re given a day in court. They will persuade the judge that you’re legally entitled to the damages you prayed for in your petition. 

Apart from these, they will also help you navigate the legal process, understand your rights, and comprehend the value of your case.

Did you know?

Most rear-end crashes happen while the lead vehicle is at a complete halt or running at a very low speed.

Navigate the Legal System With the Help of a Personal Injury Lawyer 

Possession of a driver’s license is a privilege. It’s also a presumption that one is diligent enough to observe traffic rules and avoid injuring pedestrians and other motorists.

Failure to uphold the duty to follow these road rules can result in forfeiture of your license. Causing injury to people on the road is also a reason for such a penalty and prima facie evidence of one’s negligence. 

If you or someone dear to you got hurt in a rear-end collision, the first thing to do is find out about your rights. The next logical thing to do is to lawyer up.

You can accomplish these by visiting The Personal Injury Center. We have legal resources that may help you understand your case. We also have a database of tort lawyers who can help you claim the compensation you deserve.

Check our website now and enjoy a free consultation!

Have you recently been injured in an accident?

A personal injury lawyer can educate you on your rights and help you pursue compensation from the negligent party. Visit The Personal Injury Center for a list of legal resources and a network of tort lawyers. 

FAQs on Rear-end Collision

Most people presume that the driver of the car that rear-ended another is the party at-fault. Although this is typical, it's not always the case. The driver who was negligent in any way is the one who must bear most of the fault. This could be the one in any of the following circumstances: 

  • A driver who reversed into the rear vehicle
  • A driver who was intoxicated while driving 
  • A driver who intentionally tried to get rear-ended 
  • The driver of a car with broken or malfunctioning brake lights

Head-on collisions are typically more severe and damaging than rear-end collisions due to the impact's combined force and the vehicles' relative speeds. Head-on collisions often result in serious injuries or fatalities. In contrast, rear-end collisions are typically less severe and result in less serious injuries.

However, the collision's severity depends on various factors, such as the speed of the vehicles, weight, and point of impact. Speed will always be the determining factor that will dictate the severity of the crash.

Physics suggests that car speed is a crucial factor in measuring the energy and force behind the crash. When cars move toward each other at high speeds, the power and force produced are high enough to cause lethal injuries.

It usually takes a few days for the full effects of a rear-end collision to set in. The most common symptoms are back pain and headaches. However, you may also experience soreness in your neck and shoulders and numbness in your arms or legs.

Other symptoms include nausea, vomiting, and dizziness. These can occur immediately after the collision or several hours later.

The seriousness of your symptoms will depend on how hard you were hit and how quickly you were stopped. If you were traveling at high speeds at the time of a rear-end collision, injuries would likely be severe.