Rear-end collisions are one of the most misunderstood types of traffic accidents. Hollywood often features this type of collision in scenes designed to generate laughs with the so-called “victim” faking injuries. This imagery is promoted by the insurance industry because rear-end crash are the most common type of motor vehicle collision, and of course the insurance companies want to avoid liability or minimize what they have to pay. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), a rear end collision occurs every eight seconds in the United States.
Anyone who suggests a rear-ender cannot be a serious crash has never seen the carnage resulting from a tractor-trailer slamming into the back of a passenger car at a red light. Rear-end collisions can and do cause many devastating injuries every year. In this blog, our Atlanta car accident lawyers at Montlick & Associates debunk common myths about rear-end collisions.
Myth 1: Because there was little damage to the vehicle, the vehicle occupants could not have suffered serious injury.
This is one of the biggest misconceptions about low-speed rear impact collisions, and the insurance industry aggressively perpetuates this myth. Body damage to a vehicle does not necessarily mean a vehicle occupant was injured, but it is also true that a lack of body damage to the vehicle does not mean that vehicle occupants were not injured. The lack of damage to a metal bumper made to withstand impact during a collision has little relevance when evaluating damage to the human body which is not designed for that purpose.
Myth 2: A driver with a high head rest cannot suffer a whiplash injury.
If your car is hit from behind, the vehicle tends to lift upward which lowers the seat approximately 2-3 inches. The force of the impact combined with the forward momentum causes a vehicle occupant to “ride up” in the seat. When this happens, vehicle occupant’s the head and neck may no longer be protected by the head rest. In fact, the head rest may become a fulcrum increasing the stress on the vehicle occupant’s neck. While a head rest can sometimes limit the incidence of cervical acceleration and deceleration, this presumes the head rest is adjusted in the appropriate position to serve such a function. Most vehicle occupants do not routinely adjust their head rest with an eye toward preventing damage to the neck and spine during a collision. And even if the headrest is that the optimal height, and injuy can still occur from the head being through backwards and forwards, or on an angle.
Myth 3: A lack of objective abnormalities mean that the accident victim cannot have serious injuries.
The defense may reference a negative X-ray as evidence that a vehicle occupant did not suffer any form of permanent injury. However, there may be soft tissue injuries that will not show up on an X-ray. These injuries can have a long-term impact on the injury victim.
Myth 4: Liability is automatic when you are rear-ended, so you do not need a personal injury attorney.
Rear-ending another vehicle typically is considered negligent because drivers have a duty to allow sufficient following distance that they can stop to avoid a collision. However, there are situations where the driver who is rear-ended might also be negligent in a rear impact collision. Even if liability is not disputed, the insurance company usually will attempt to minimize the severity of your injuries. An experienced car accident lawyer will be familiar with the strategies used by insurance companies to defend against claims that their insured rear-ended another vehicle.
Myth 5: Injuries suffered in a rear-end collision are usually very minor sprain or strain type injuries, so all symptoms will disappear in six to twelve weeks.
About one in four whiplash victims suffer long term chronic disorders according to neurosurgeon.com. This medical information website also reports that some medical literature suggests that 42 percent of whiplash victims suffer long-term symptoms. One of these studies found that after six month 38 percent of patients still reported constant headaches, neck stiffness and neck pain. In some cases, symptoms may last for years or may be permanent. The lingering effects of whiplash injuries make it imperative that you not settle your claim prematurely.
Myth 6: The accident victim did not complain of symptoms immediately after the crash, so any injuries were probably minor.
Whiplash symptoms do not typically appear until hours or days after the injury has occurred. The symptoms may start to come and go or become increasingly more severe over time. Because these types of injuries might not exhibit significant symptoms right away, accident victims should seek prompt medical attention after a crash even if they do not think they suffered serious injury. During this visit to the doctor or emergency room, all symptoms should be disclosed to the doctor even if they seem minor or unconnected to any injury. The patient should also follow through on any diagnostic testing or treatment.
Myth 7: Rear-end collision pose no serious threat of serious injury unless they occur at high rates of speed.
Low-speed collisions at under 25 mph can actually pose a more serious threat of debilitating long-term injuries of the cervical spine. The Australian Family Physician reports “[i]t is wrong to assume that maximum neck injury occurs in a high-speed collision. It is the slow or moderate collision that causes maximum hyperextension of the cervical spine. High-speed collisions often break the back of the seat, thus minimizing the force of hyperextension.”
If you or someone close to you has been injured in a rear-end collision, our experienced Atlanta car accident lawyers might be able to help. Montlick and Associates has been representing those who suffer serious injuries throughout all of Georgia and the Southeast for over thirty years, including but not limited to all smaller cities and rural areas in the state. No matter where you are located our attorneys are just a phone call away, and we will even come to you.
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Call us 24 hours a day/7 days a week for your Free Consultation at 1-800-LAW-NEED (1-800-529-6333). You can also visit us online at www.montlick.com and use our Free Case Evaluation Form or 24-hour Live Online Chat.