Rear-end car accidents are the most common type of collision on Arizona roads and highways. According to the Arizona Department of Transportation, more than 48,000 rear-end crashes occurred in Arizona in 2016. More than 14,000 of those accidents caused personal injuries. The rear-end accident lawyers at Arizona’s Pew Law Center understand how devastating a rear-end collision can be for injury victims.
Rear-end accidents make up about 45% of all Arizona car crashes and about 43% of all collisions that cause an injury. More than 70% of rear-end car accidents occur in Maricopa County. While they represent only 11% of fatal car accidents, rear-end collisions cause serious injuries, including painful whiplash injuries that can lead to long-term disability.
Causes of Arizona Rear End Car Accidents In Arizona
Distracted driving is the most frequent cause of rear-end collisions. As rear-end car accident lawyers tell Arizona juries, “The car that got hit didn’t suddenly appear out of nowhere.”
Distracted driving means paying attention to something other than traffic. Common reasons for distracted driving include:
- Making a call on a cellphone
- Reading or sending a text
- Using an app on a portable electronic device
- Entering information into a GPS
- Eating a drive-through meal
- Using a rearview mirror to put on makeup
- Gawking at a car accident
- Watching people on the side of the road
- Arguing with a passenger
- Thinking about work or other problems
Distracted driving is the kind of negligent act that makes drivers responsible for the accidents they cause. Other acts of negligence that cause rear-end car crashes include:
- Falling asleep at the wheel
- Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs
- Driving too fast to stop in an emergency
- Driving too fast for wet road conditions
- Failing to maintain brakes that fail when trying to stop quickly
Whatever the cause might be, rear-end car collisions are almost always the fault of the driver who crashes into the rear of another car. The Arizona rear-end car accident lawyers at the Pew Law Center represent accident victims who are injured after being rear-ended.
Injuries from Arizona Rear End Accidents
A high-speed rear-end car accident can be fatal. That is particularly true when the crash is caused by a large truck or heavy vehicle, or if the rear-end collision pushes the accident victim’s car into a lane of oncoming traffic.
Rear-end car accidents can also cause serious injuries, including:
- Head and brain injuries
- Fractured bones
- Organ damage
- Joint injuries
- Facial scarring
- Amputated limbs
- Spinal cord injuries
Soft tissue injuries are the most common results of rear-end collisions. A soft tissue injury involves damage to the tissues that hold the body together, including muscles, tendons, ligaments, cartilage, and nerves.
Neck and back injuries caused by whiplash are the most frequent soft tissue injuries caused by rear-end car crashes. Since insurance adjusters often belittle whiplash injuries, an Arizona rear-end car accident attorney can provide the equalizing power a whiplash injury victim needs to obtain a fair settlement.
How Rear End Car Accidents Cause Whiplash
A whiplash injury occurs when the muscles and tendons in the neck are stretched or torn due to rapid motion of the head. Whiplash injuries can also cause pain in other parts of the body due to nerve damage, and they are often accompanied by injuries to the upper and lower back.
Symptoms of whiplash injuries include:
- Neck pain and stiffness
- Shoulder weakness
- Pain radiating into arms and hands
- Back pain
A whiplash injury is primarily caused by shear forces. Shear forces push one part of the body in one direction and another part of the body in a different direction. Shear forces caused by a rear-end accident affect the body in three stages.
First, the collision causes the car to move forward rapidly. The car seat pushes against the occupant’s back, causing compression of the disks in the spine. At the same time, the pelvis is pushed forward. Shear forces produced by the different motions of the pelvis and back travel up the spine, causing back and neck injuries.
Second, as the car seat pushes the occupant’s body forward, the occupant’s head snaps back. The shear force produced by that motion creates an S-shaped curve in the vertebrae in the neck. A substantial part of a whiplash injury occurs at that point, just one-tenth to two-tenths of a second after the collision and before the head makes contact with a headrest.
Third, as the car slows, the occupant’s head moves violently forward, causing strained muscles and ligaments, torn fibers in spinal discs, and misaligned vertebrae. Those injuries may be even worse if the forward motion of the car is stopped by a sudden crash into another car or a fixed object.
Delayed Onset of Whiplash Symptoms
Rear-end car accident victims do not always realize they have been injured. Studies show that car occupants who have been rear-ended at low speeds (even 4 or 5 miles per hour) can develop whiplash injuries, but the symptoms of those injuries are typically delayed by 24 to 48 hours, and sometimes by as much as a week.
Insurance adjusters try to use that delay to argue that the accident victim is pretending to have whiplash to make a false insurance claim. The rear-end car accident attorneys at Arizona’s Pew Law Center are able to produce studies and expert witnesses to explain why the delayed onset of symptoms is common. We also rely on studies to establish that low-speed rear-end collisions often cause whiplash injuries.
How Much Is a Rear-End Accident Worth?
Every injury settlement depends on a multitude of factors. No two cases are alike. Rear-end accidents differ from most other car accidents, however, in that insurance companies cannot usually blame the victim for contributing to the accident.
An injury settlement will depend upon the severity of the injury, including the length of time it takes to heal, the amount and duration of pain it causes, and whether the injury will have permanent effects. Injury settlements take into account past and future wage loss and medical expenses attributable to the accident. We also consider the emotional impact of the injury on a victim who can no longer lift a child, who must depend on family members to help with chores, or who cannot sleep at night because of neck or back pain.
Need Help With Obtaining Compensation? We’re Here For You
Since settlements are final and cannot be reopened, no case should be settled until the full extent of the injury is clear. The Arizona rear-end accident lawyers at Pew Law Center use our knowledge and experience to maximize the compensation that our clients receive for their collision injuries. If you were rear-ended in Arizona, call us at (480) 745-1770 to make an appointment for a free consultation.