Rear end vehicle accidents, also called fender benders, are the most common type of vehicle accident in Tennessee and across the U.S. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) keeps statistics on all road accidents and according to their data, fender benders account for 30% of all vehicle accidents. That’s around 1.5 million rear end accidents a year, approximately one accident every 8 seconds.
Most, but not all, rear end accidents are caused by negligent driving by the person driving the vehicle at the back. The accidents happen most commonly when the driver behind is too close for safety, is distracted by something, most commonly a phone call or text message, is intoxicated, tired, fails to anticipate dangerous road surface conditions or is deliberately tailgating.
Most rear end collisions happen at relatively slow speed, but injuries can be severe and cause a lot of pain and suffering, as well as hefty bills. Typical rear end car accident injuries include whiplash, spinal injuries, face and brain injuries and burns. Injuries often tend to be worse than might be expected from the scale of the impact because the driver and / or passengers in the vehicle in front are not expecting the crash and do not have time to react.
Seat belts and air bags, of course, do help, but injuries can still happen, especially when occupants’ heads are jerked forward, then backwards as the result of the crash. Airbag gas release can cause burns and faces and heads can hit the steering wheel and windscreen when there is not enough time for bracing.
Tennessee road rules are strict and generally the driver at the back will be blamed unless an investigation into the crash events reveals a different story. Tennessee expects drivers to drive safely and that includes maintaining a safe distance behind vehicles in front in case they have to suddenly stop. Slippery road conditions are rarely an excuse, as it is expected that drivers anticipate more dangerous conditions and ensure they drive more slowly and carefully and allow more space between themselves and vehicles in front.
When rear-enders are not the fault of the vehicle behind
Tennessee has a modified comparative negligence rule that rules out any possibility of compensation if you, the injured person, were determined to be more than 50% to blame for the accident. Insurance adjusters who are acting on behalf of the other driver are likely to look for any excuse not to pay compensation and will try and blame you for the accident, or at least part of it. You might think that if you were hit in the rear, then the other driver must be to blame, but there are some circumstances in which this may not be the case.
For example, it may be alleged that you hit the brakes suddenly without warning and for no apparent reason. Or your tail lights weren’t working, you failed to signal a turn or you suddenly reversed to avoid an obstacle or another vehicle.
If you think that you may be blamed for some of the accident, you should make sure you discuss the accident circumstances carefully with an experienced Nashville car accident attorney. The attorney will most likely advise you not to admit fault outright and will provide an opinion about your chances of obtaining compensation if you go ahead with a claim. Rear end accidents can cause long lasting and painful conditions and these can set you back financially as a result of medical bills and lost earnings. A modified comparative ruling can work against you and you could stand to lose all chance of compensation unless your claim is backed up by solid evidence and you are represented by a skilful attorney.
There are things which you can do to make your case more convincing. The police report should identify who was at fault but will not be able to determine the exact nature of your injuries and how much they have cost you or are likely to cost you in the future. That’s when sufficient medical documentation is needed. Your attorney can help you ensure you have convincing proof of the severity of your injuries. Eye witnesses and photographic evidence taken at the crash scene can help to counter any attempt by the defendant’s insurer to blame you for the accident.
Rear end accidents are common on Tennessee roads. If you are hit by a negligent driver anywhere in or around Nashville contact the Keith Williams Law Group on (615) 313-3999.