Imagine you are sitting at a traffic light or in rush hour of traffic in Kansas City, minding your own business. Maybe you are listening to the news or thinking about your schedule for the day. Maybe you have a child in the backseat looking at a book or singing to herself. Then suddenly, you are jolted forward. Maybe your unconscious for a moment or two, or it takes you a few seconds to gather your composure to figure out what just happened. No accidents come as suddenly and with no warning as most rear-end accidents do. They can be a complete shock, and then can end in complete disaster. Depending on the violence of the impact, property damage and personal injuries can be significant. Read on to find out what you need to know about rear-end collisions.
What kinds of injuries can I sustain from a rear-end collision?
When someone thinks of a rear impact collision, they often think of a fender bender. Though the latter is often the case, it does not make up most of the cases. In fact, injuries caused from rear impact accidents are more probable than collisions that occur from an angle, a sideswipe or head on. The National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration reports that in 2015, injuries resulted in 26.4 percent of all angular accidents, 6.1 percent of all side swipes, 4.1 percent of all head-on collisions, and 32.4 percent of all rear-end accidents. According to the same report, fatality percentages result differently. Angular collisions result in 18 percent deaths, while sideswipe collisions result in 2.6 percent of deaths, head on collisions result in 10.2 percent of deaths and rear-end accidents result in 6.8 percent of all deaths. Additionally, in one third of all rear impact accident, there is only property damage to deal with, while the case is much less so in other types of collisions.
Therefore, rear-end collisions are more likely result in property damage, but if occupants are harmed, there are more chances you’ll be injured than in any other type of collision, but your probability of dying is less than most other types of collisions.
In rear impact collisions, the most typical injuries sustained are the following:
- Head injuries, including concussions;
- Broken bones;
- Facial lacerations;
- Other soft tissue injuries.
Fortunately, injuries that result from rear-end collisions are often fully recoverable.
I crashed into the back of another person’s car, am I responsible?
Under Missouri law known as the “rear-end collision doctrine,” the default rule is: if you rear-end another vehicle, you are presumed to be at fault for the accident. When filing a claim or a lawsuit, the plaintiff can raise the rear-end collision doctrine. In support of the doctrine, the plaintiff needs to demonstrate that:
- He or she had a right to be on the road;
- He or she was struck by another vehicle via rear-ending or striking from behind;
- He or she was not otherwise negligent.
These three components are not difficult for the plaintiff to prove, but when he or she does so, it shifts the burden of proof to the defendant. Then the defendant must prove that he or she was not negligent.
Though the presumption of guilt is on the driver who struck from behind, there are times when the defendant can prove the he or she was not negligent, but that the driver of the vehicle in front of him or her was at fault. For instance, imagine a scenario when Driver X is driving on the interstate, and Driver Y is entering onto the interstate. Driver X has the right-of-way and Driver Y must yield to Driver X when it merges onto the interstate, but this doesn’t always happen. If Driver Y suddenly swerves into Driver X’s lane unexpectedly and without yielding the right-of-way, then Driver X may have no time to react in order to avoid a collision. The resulting rear-end collision may not be in whole or in part the fault of Driver X (the driver who struck the other vehicle from behind).
Remember: Missouri if a pure comparative fault state. Thus, if the plaintiff is negligent, that will reduce the plaintiff’s recovery of compensation by the amount the plaintiff is deemed negligent.
What can cause a person to rear-end my car?
There are many reasons that a driver may rear-end another person. More of the common reasons include the following:
- Distracted driving, especially today when drivers are consistently and persistently texting and/or checking their cell phones;
- Failing to judge the stopping distance;
- Improper vehicle maintenance that leads to poor tire conditions or braking issues;
- Ignoring poor weather conditions and slipping on wet surfaces; or, among many other causes;
- Following too closely or tailgating, which doesn’t give the driver enough time to stop when necessary; or, as above-mentioned,
- The driver in the front vehicle does something that causes the driver in the back to crash into him or her.
The above are just some examples. It should be remembered that if you are rear-ended in Kansas City, though there is a presumption in Missouri that the car striking from behind is at fault, the driver of that vehicle can still contest that presumption. As a result, if you are in a rear impact collision, regardless if you are the one struck or not, you should retain legal counsel as soon as possible. In the meantime, you should take measures to protect yourself.
How can I avoid a rear-end collision?
There are many things you can do to prevent rear-end collisions, regardless if you are the one in the front or back.
- When on the highway or interstate, always keep alert to the traffic ahead. If you see red lights and cars slowing or stopping, then you should be prepared to stop as well.
- Keep checking your mirrors. It is always important to know what’s going on around you in any situation. Check your rearview mirror often, especially when you are slowing down and/or coming to a stop. This way you can possibly be warned if the car behind you isn’t stopping in time to prevent from striking you.
- When you slow down to stop, check to see if there’s an escape route (off the side of the road) that you can go into if the driver behind you doesn’t appear to be stopping when you check your rearview mirror.
- Stay focused on your driving. Pay attention to what you are doing and don’t get distracted with other things, especially the cell phone.
- When you stop, leave 2 car spaces between you and the car ahead of you, if you can. This way, if you are struck from behind, you won’t strike the car in front of you and end up being liable for that part of the collision.
Contact Krause & Kinsman Today
If you’ve been in a rear-end accident, regardless if you are the front or back driver, in Kansas City, Missouri, you need legal assistance. Determining liability in these kinds of auto collisions seems to be cut and dry, but it’s not always. At Krause & Kinsman, our experienced car accident legal team in Kansas City knows how to fully investigate the circumstances surrounding your accident. We know how to identify all responsible parties. We act aggressively so that you will receive the compensation you rightfully deserve according to Missouri law.
Adam Krause is a personal injury, mass tort, business litigation, and employment discrimination attorney who practices in Kansas City, Missouri. He graduated from the University of Missouri Kansas City School of Law and has been practicing law for several years now. Adam Krause has made a career of taking complicated litigation and presenting it in the most elementary terms for a jury of your peers to understand. Learn more about his experience here.