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Law Offices of John Morelli
A Personal Injury Firm Serving All Of South Jersey

Rear-End Collisions

Rear-End CollisionaAccidents where one vehicle strikes another in the rear are by far the most common form of collisions in the United States. These types of collisions can be caused from driver inattention, following too closely or adverse road conditions.

The Most Violated Safety Rule in America

Regardless of the cause, all drivers have a duty to maintain a safe following distance between their vehicle and the vehicle they are following. This is probably the most widely violated safety rule in America. One need only look at any highway in America during morning or evening rush hour to see how closely vehicles travel behind each other. A safe stopping distance of 1 car length for every 10 mph speed is the recommended safe following distance. It is not a stretch to say that probably 90% of drivers do not adhere to this rule during normal driving conditions and in heavy traffic no one does.

Under these conditions then, it is not surprising that if a driver's attention is diverted for less than a second, brake lights ahead coming on can be missed. Without a safe stopping distance, disaster can result. A bigger problem exists when the following vehicle is a truck or SUV. Rear-end collisions are one of the most common types of car accidents that attorney's see today. With the advent of texting only adding another additional distraction to drivers to already accompany cell phones, radios, and bad-hair-days. It's simply easier than ever to become distracted from the road, lose focus and forget to brake.

Rear End Collision Laws in New Jersey

But, what many drivers are unaware of is that in the State of New Jersey, a driver who has struck the rear of another vehicle is ALWAYS presumed to be at fault. When operating a motor vehicle, it is the responsibility of the driver to maintain control of their car at all times. And, as part of maintaining control, they must keep a safe stopping distance away from the vehicle in front of them. Neglecting to stop and ramming into the car in front of you is indeed a failure to control one's vehicle, despite what you might hear in many road-side arguments.

Accidents with Commercial Vehicles and Trucks

With all of the distractions inside of the car today, rear-end-collisions have become far too common. Nearly a third of all car accidents where someone was killed or injured in the United States involved a rear-end-collision. And despite the millions of "How's My Driving?" bumper stickers plastered on the back of trucks everywhere, commercial vehicles with professional drivers actually were involved in a disproportionate number of rear-end accidents. It may be due to the driver's extended hours on the road or the nature of the vehicles that they drive, but commercial vehicles accounted for 40% of all rear-end hits, despite making up only 7% of all cars on the road.

A commercial driver in such a situation would be represented through their company's insurance and have the ability to make a workers' compensation claim with their employer after the accident. A civilian driver who got hit, of course, would not be able to take such a course of action and would need to obtain representation from a personal injury attorney to file a claim through their auto-insurance. With an attorney who is skilled in rear-end-collision cases, they can seek compensation for their injuries and any medical care needed, as well as pursue punitive damages if necessary.

Effect on the Body After Impact

On impact, the car that is struck is forced forward, the person inside is thrust backward from the force and then propelled forward when their body comes in contact with the seat. If the impact is severe enough, the seat sometimes breaks because of that contact. If the seat does not break, it propels the person forward. If that person is wearing a seat belt, and the seat belt functions properly, the seat belt will hold and force the person backward again. This violent back, front and back again movement is what causes injuries to the back and neck areas. Even with a seat belt, the person's knees, hands or chest may strike the dashboard or steering wheel. Studies have shown that there is little correlation between the speed of the impact and the extent of injuries sustained. There are a number of factors involved such as the person's age, physical condition and prior medical condition. One need only imagine the difference between what happens to a very young child learning to walk and an elderly grandmother experiencing the very same fall. The young child gets up and goes on, business as usual. The 80 year old who falls in the exact same manner may fracture a hip, or at the very least, suffer a back or neck injury.

The law provides that a person causing injury takes the person as they find them. In other words, if a person injured in an accident suffers an aggravation of a prior condition, there is responsibility for the harm that is caused. Of course, the injured party must show that their condition has been aggravated in some way. All of these things are issues that should be discussed with a competent attorney. Just because a person has had prior problems, does not mean that they should suffer without compensation for their injuries.

If Involved in a Rear-End Collision, Contact the Police

So, if you had been involved in a rear-end collision, it's best to call the police so that they can file a police report about the accident. It is also common for many to not feel all that abnormal following the collision, only to find that they have been injured subsequently as pain sets in over the days following the accident. That's why it's also recommended, even if you are not feeling well, to call for an ambulance or get yourself checked out at the hospital.

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