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Rear-End Collisions: What You Need To Know

A rear-end collision can change your life in a fraction of a second. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, almost one-third of car accidents result from rear-end collisions. Such an incident can leave you with permanent emotional and physical injuries.

Rear-end accidents happen every day because they have seemingly simple causes related to distractions and absent-mindedness. You may be arguing with your spouse, trying to get your children in the back seat to settle down, or letting your mind drift as you think about plans for the weekend.

Anything that takes your mind away from the immediate conditions of your driving can contribute to a rear-in crash. Here are some of the most common accident-related injuries and how you can earn compensation.

What Happens When You Get Rear-Ended

You have kinetic energy in your body while driving. This form of energy naturally occurs anytime you are in motion. Usually, when you stop a car, the kinetic energy dissipates in the form of heat through the brakes. A rear-end crash doesn’t afford you the time to transition that energy out of your body gradually, so it causes a jolt.

While the car absorbs some of the energy during the rear-end collision, your body does too. The impact may feel like a punch to your head, spine, or chest. If the rear-end accident has enough force, it can cause broken bones, bruising, and lung injuries.

Most Common Injuries in a Rear-End Collision


Whiplash occurs in conjunction with sudden and forceful pressure on the neck. If you are in a car accident, your head may jolt backward from the momentum at impact, similar to cracking a whip. The soft tissue injury can leave you with neck pain, stiffness, limited range of motion, headaches, dizziness, and fatigue.

Spine and Back Injuries

Spine and back injuries are the most severe if you do not have time to brace yourself. The collision can cause lingering soreness, pain, and stiffness in your muscles and soft tissue. More dramatic cases can alter your quality of life because of broken vertebrae or pinched nerves.

Head and Brain Injuries

You may sustain a head or brain injury, even if you’re driving at low speeds. If the airbag deploys, it can cause burns, scrapes, or lacerations on your face. A direct impact to your skull can result in severe concussions or brain trauma. If you blackout during or after the accident, there’s a good chance you may sustain brain damage.

Broken Bones

Broken collar bones are commonplace in rear-end car crashes because the seatbelt goes over your clavicle. The strap rips the bone from the muscle during the car accident, and it can potentially puncture your lungs. You may also break the bones in your hand or wrist as you brace for impact.


According to the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation, 5.6 million Americans are paralyzed, with many individuals sustaining their injuries in a car accident. Paralysis occurs because of significant damage to the spine or brain. The condition may be irreversible, even with physical therapy and medical treatment.

What to Do if You’re in a Rear-End Collision

Seek medical attention following any car accident. Often, you may not realize that you have sustained an injury, so it’s wise to get checked over by medical personnel or paramedics anyway.

A personal injury takes priority over exchanging information or documenting the scene. If law enforcement officers show up to the accident, they can take care of recording the crash and filing detailed paperwork.

If you do not sustain a personal injury, share your contact and insurance information with the other driver. You should also take photos and videos of wreckage, which you can later use as evidence. Be sure to document your injuries, vehicle damage, and weather conditions.

Once the dust clears and everyone receives the proper medical attention, the police will need to determine the driver at fault. Georgia is a “fault” state (as opposed to a “no-fault” state), which means that the driver responsible for causing the accident pays compensation for injuries and damages. You and another person may share fault, such as a 60-40 split, in which you pay compensation based on your percentage of fault.

Even if you believe you’re responsible for hitting another vehicle, do not admit fault. You’re free to express remorse and empathy, but admitting fault will undercut your case during insurance negotiations or at trial. You should only discuss fault privately or with accident attorneys.

Your potential compensation will depend upon your injuries and which driver is at fault. A moderate rear-end accident can pay anywhere from hundreds to tens of thousands of dollars. According to MillerandZios.com, the median settlement value for rear-end collisions involving a truck is $93,909. Most cases settled between $70,000 and $100,000, with one in eight people earning more than a million dollars.

How to Avoid Rear-End Collisions

Sometimes a rear-ender is unavoidable. Despite your best efforts to drive carefully, the person behind may tailgate you. When you approach a light, they may hit the brakes too late–and you end up in a rear-end crash. While tailgating causes the most rear-end collisions, other common situations include driving under the influence, distracted driving, poor weather, and abrupt stops.

The two-second rule minimizes your chances of a car accident. The first iteration of the rule states that you should never take your eyes off the road for more than two seconds. Anything longer than two seconds can cause you to swerve into the other lane or hit the vehicle in front of you.

The other version of the two-second rule deals with distance. It says you should have two seconds worth of space between you and the driver ahead of you. The gap reduces the chances of tailgating and provides ample cushion if the other person slams on the brakes.

Remaining vigilant while driving goes a long way in preventing rear-end collisions. Check your blind spots and regularly glance at your rearview and side mirrors to locate other cars. You should always think ahead about what other drivers may do.

Contact Georgia Auto Law Today

Do you have injuries from a car accident? Our car accident lawyers at Georgia Auto Law can help. We will work with you to help you earn the compensation you deserve.

Get a free consultation for your case by calling us at (404) 662-4949 or filling out our online contact form today. Please provide as much detail as possible about your case, and one of our lawyers will get back to you shortly. We look forward to hearing from you.

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