Chicago Rear-End Accident Lawyer
You’re sitting at a red light on your way home from work, maybe thinking about what you’ll have for dinner that night, or hoping to make it in time to catch a Cubs or White Sox game on TV. The next thing you know, you feel an impact from behind. You’re thrown forward by the momentum. Your seat belt stops you from slamming into the steering wheel, but your head snaps backward from the force. Your neck hurts, and the rear end of your car is smashed — all because the driver behind you was driving too fast or talking on a cell phone and didn’t see you stopped there.
Rear-end collisions are the most frequent type of car crash in Illinois, accounting for about 29 percent of all collisions, according to the Illinois Department of Transportation. There are nearly 80,000 rear-end collisions in the state every year that result in tens of thousands of injuries and dozens of fatalities.
If you were injured in a rear-end collision in a car or a truck, you may be feeling frustrated that someone else caused your pain and scared about how your medical bills and other expenses are going to be paid. A personal injury attorney may be able to help you get compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, disability, and disfigurement, pain and suffering, and loss of normal life.
Common Causes of Rear-End Accidents
Rear-end collisions are nearly always someone else’s fault. Illinois law includes a presumption that the person who hit you from behind was responsible for the crash, but the other driver can present evidence that another factor or person caused the crash. It may be that the person who hit you was actually rear-ended by someone else, and the force of that impact caused that person to collide with you.
Rear-end crashes often may involve more than one car. But somewhere in the chain of events, there was a cause and chances are that the cause was some form of negligence. A skilled personal injury attorney can help you determine the cause of your crash and work to obtain compensation for you from the person responsible for your injuries and damages.
Some common driving behaviors that result in rear-end crashes include:
- Following Too Close — Drivers are supposed to maintain enough distance between their car and the car in front of them to be able to stop suddenly without colliding. When drivers tailgate you, and you’re forced to stop suddenly because of debris in the road or another reason, the result often is a rear-end collision.
- Distracted Driving — Drivers talking or texting on mobile phones, or eating, or applying make-up aren’t giving their full attention to the road. They may not see you stop and end up hitting you from behind.
- Speeding — The amount of distance needed to stop a vehicle is directly related to the vehicle’s speed. Drivers who are speeding often can’t stop in time when presented with obstacles in front of them — including your stopped car.
- Faulty Brakes or Other Mechanical Defects — Drivers are supposed to maintain their vehicles in roadworthy condition. That means making sure their brakes and other parts of their car are in good working order. When brakes fail, collisions often result.
Common Injuries in Rear-End Crashes
Rear-end accidents can result in a number of different types of injuries, depending upon the circumstances of the crash. Among the most common types of injuries seen in rear-end accidents are:
- Neck injuries — Whiplash is perhaps the most common injury experienced after a rear-end crash. Whiplash happens when your head is snapped back and your neck extends beyond its normal length. Pain can be excruciating and lingering. Herniated discs or spinal cord damage also are often seen in people who have been rear-ended.
- Back injuries — Herniated discs and spinal cord damage may result from a rear-end crash.
- Head Injuries — People involved in rear-end crashes may experience concussion or brain injuries, or bruises or cuts on their head.
- Broken Bones — A forceful enough impact can result in broken arms, legs, or ribs.
- Soft Tissue Injuries — Painful sprains, strains, and tears in your muscles, ligaments, or tendons may result from a rear-end collision.
Rear-End Accidents Involving Trucks
When the rear-crashing vehicle is a large commercial tractor-trailer weighing in at more than 80,000 pounds, the injuries to the other driver or drivers and the damages that ensure are more than likely going to be immense. When a driver is in an accident where they are rear-ended, a big rig may simply roll over the entire passenger vehicle, causing horrible injuries and even sudden death. In addition, the cost of medical bills, vehicle repairs and other expenses incurred by the victim of a rear-end truck collision are likely to be astronomical. That’s not to mention the fact that the process of medical treatment followed by rehabilitation can be physically and emotionally exhausting, especially when combined with the stress of fighting the trucking company or their insurance company for fair compensation for damages.
The primary cause of rear-end Illinois truck accidents is the inability of trucks to stop quickly.
According to the most recent study by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), there are an estimated 400,000 large truck accidents annually, out of which about 18 percent are rear-end collisions. That means an average of 42,000 rear-end truck accidents happen on American roads and highways each year where a large commercial truck strikes another vehicle.
These rear-end accidents involving big rigs are particularly dangerous for several reasons:
- Large trucks can be up to 40 times heavier than the other passenger vehicles with which they share the roads. The weight and mass of the trucks means that more damage occurs when a tractor-trailer strikes another vehicle than another passenger vehicle.
- The stopping distance for a big rig is much longer for large and heavy commercial vehicles.
- Because of the weight and mass of the truck, they are more liable to cause accidents involving three or more vehicles, generally identified by traffic reports as multi-vehicle collisions or multi-car pileups.
Are Rear-End Truck Accidents Always the Fault of the Truck Driver?
Unless a rear-end accident involving a tractor-trailer or other commercial truck happens in one of the twelve no-fault states, the presumption is that the rear-ending driver is at fault for the collision. However, the rear-ending driver may be able to prove extenuating circumstances, such as being pushed by another car. But in most cases, the vehicle striking from the rear is usually blamed. In these cases, the driver may have caused the collision but it will be the commercial trucking operator that they work for that will probably be found financially liable for damages. Other circumstances may involve the truck manufacturer or a trucking repair shop. For example, if a truck is found to have collided with another vehicle due to defective or poorly maintained brakes, multiple companies could potentially be found liable for the damage incurred in an accident.
Is Illinois a No-Fault State?
Illinois is not a no-fault state when it comes to considering car insurance coverage in a rear-end collision involving a big rig. Instead, it is a tort state. When a rear-end collision occurs, one driver is determined to be at fault, usually, the driver that struck the other vehicle from behind. This person’s insurance company is responsible for paying for the cost of any injuries or damages incurred as a result of the accident. However, the insurance company hired by the at-fault driver in a rear-end collision may also designate an attorney to represent them in the event of a lawsuit. This is doubly true when the at-fault driver is a truck driver for a commercial trucking firm. The attorney representing the trucking company will either attempt to settle the lawsuit in a timely manner, or use legal strategy to ensure that their client pays as little as possible in damages.
The Multi-Car Collision Rule
Another exception to the general rule of rear-end collisions involving trucks is the multi-car accident rule. Normally, rear-end collisions happen because the rear vehicle is following the car in front of them too closely. However, in multi-car accidents, the rear vehicle is often pushed into the lead vehicle by a third car—or truck. An example of this scenario would be a situation where two or more cars are stopped at a red light and a commercial truck fails to stop in time. Because of the mass and speed of the truck, it could potentially push the first car into the next car, and so on. Obviously, the second driver did nothing wrong, because they were stopped at a red light at the time of the collision. In fact, the trucking company would more than likely be found liable for all the damages to all vehicles involved in this type of scenario.
Contact a Chicago Rear-End Accident Lawyer at Staver Accident Injury Lawyers, P.C. Today
Car or truck accident cases involving rear-end collisions are complex and can prove confusing to their victims. Proving negligence in a crash that involves a rear-end collision takes an investment of time, experience, and resources. If you have been injured in an auto accident involving a rear-end collision, our personal injury law firm can pursue the compensation you need and deserve.
Call an Illinois personal injury lawyer today a (312) 236-2900.