Rear End Accidents
One of the most common auto v. auto accidents is the “rear end collision”. These accidents are usually caused by a driver looking away from the road for only a few seconds, to change the radio station or often to “shoo” a bug out of their car. Believe it or not, insects cause a large number of accidents because drivers become distracted based on a normal phobia of the small flying creatures.
The California basic speed law requires that drivers always remain far enough behind the vehicle in front of them to be able to stop safely without colliding with the vehicle they are following. Because of this legal requirement, there is almost no situation where a rear end collision can be blamed on the front vehicle. The rear vehicle is assumed to have violated the basic speed law and it is nearly impossible for a driver striking a vehicle in front of them to avoid being found liable for the collision.
Rear end collisions often result in one of the most common automobile accident injuries known as “whiplash”. “Whiplash” occurs when the neck experiences sudden sharp forward and backward strains in repetition. Whiplash injuries range from mild to severe. Mild whiplash results in neck pain, headaches, tingling in the extremities and stiffness in the neck.
Moderate whiplash injuries may result in more severe symptoms such as those above plus chronic headaches and nerve damage. Moderate whiplash may result in bulging or thinning of the soft tissue “discs” which cushion the vertebrae from grating against one another which can be very painful and can cause partial loss of strength throughout the extremities or even some paralysis. Severe whiplash injuries can leave a person literally paralyzed for days, months or permanently because of the damage to the nerves which relay messages from the brain to the body.
Even more severe injuries may occur to the neck and back in rear end collisions when vertebrae in the spinal cord are fractured or even crushed. In those situations a person may require surgery including “fusion” of the vertebrae which severely limits their ability to move freely for the rest of their life in many cases.
In addition to the injuries to the neck and back, many people don’t realize that the brain can be severely injured by the mechanisms of a rear end collision, even if the person never hits their head on anything. The rapid forward and backward motion involved in such collisions cause the brain to be compressed inside the skull as it moves and is then suddenly stopped. This can cause bruising (bleeding) inside the brain which can result in loss of cognitive ability – the ability to think clearly.
For some, these injuries and the loss of brain functions never reverses. In those cases a person may never be able to return to their normal job, may lose memories or the ability to remember new things, may lose the ability to learn new things and may not even recognize their loved ones. Even worse, some may never be able to provide for their own care again, yet be fully aware of their disability. This is the most devastating kind of brain injury to the person and their loved ones. Imagine yourself suddenly mentally handicapped, but with the memory of having once been a doctor or scientist.
Rear end collisions are always dangerous and the damages may not be noticed for days or even weeks after the accident. Many people believe that because they did not report pain or symptoms of the injury immediately, they are “out of luck” and cannot pursue their claim. This is absolutely untrue. If you “feel fine” after the accident, but later develop symptoms such as those described above, you should immediately seek medical attention and request radiographic testing (x-rays, MRI’s or CT scans) to determine the extent of the injuries.
Many injuries can only be diagnosed through these medical imaging tests by a qualified medical expert. If your doctor determines that you have been injured you should immediately seek the help of a legal professional experienced in automobile accidents who understands the mechanics of your injuries and can work closely with your doctor to make certain that you receive the treatment you need and the settlement you deserve.
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