In 2020, over 341,399 car accidents occurred in Florida alone, injuring over 212,432 people. Rear-end car accidents are unfortunately a common occurrence here in South Florida, particularly in more congested or urban areas like Miami, Homestead, and Hialeah. Rear-end collisions, whether at high or low speeds, can cause minor to severe injuries to the driver, passengers, and vehicles.
Many people mistakenly believe that low-speed rear-end collisions are less dangerous because they frequently result in minor vehicle damage or injuries to drivers or passengers that are not entirely obvious. In fact, according to research findings presented by the Spine Research Institute of San Diego 60 percent of car accident injuries happen at speeds ranging from 6 to 12 miles per hour; and a study conducted by Peugeot S.A./Renault Laboratory of Accidentology and Biomechanics, the risk of whiplash injury is actually greater at speeds slower than 9.3 MPH.
Injuries from Rear-End Collisions
Drivers and passengers involved in rear-end collisions are frequently caught by surprise because they do not see the accident coming. They, unfortunately, do not have the time to stabilize and prepare for the impact which can result in a more severe injury. The most common injuries involve the head, neck, arms, hands, and wrists.
Whiplash, Head and Brain Injuries
Whiplash affects approximately 20% of those involved in a rear-end collision. When the force of an accident causes sudden, jerking movements of the head and neck, surrounding muscles and tendons are damaged. The symptoms include neck and back pain, tingling, stiffness, or swelling, as well as headaches.
Along with head and neck injuries, a rear-end accident can result in neurological or brain injuries depending on the speed and force involved. Drivers and passengers may hit their heads on the steering wheel, windows, or deployed airbag, resulting in a concussion, or loss of consciousness. A brain injury can cause dizziness, loss of balance, nausea, sensitivity to light or sound, and memory issues. If you find yourself feeling any of these symptoms, it is imperative that you contact a medical professional.
Fractured Bones and Mental Health Impact
In rear-end, collisions, hand, arm, and wrist injuries are extremely common. The force of the impact can sprain or break drivers’ hands, arms, or wrists because they are typically holding the steering wheel at the time of impact. Some of these injuries may be so severe they require surgery, physical therapy, or other costly medical procedures.
While physical injuries are often more recognizable, emotional reactions to a car accident require medical attention as well. Many victims of rear-end collisions suffer mental health consequences including Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), anxiety, and even depression.
Rear-End Collision in Florida
A rear driver in a collision faces a rebuttable presumption of negligence under Florida law. This means that, while the rear-end driver is presumed to be at fault, the rear-end driver will have the opportunity to challenge this presumption and will not be found guilty automatically. This presumption can be challenged in several ways, including:
- Witness testimony that the driver abruptly and unexpectedly came to a stop
- Evidence of a mechanical failure the driver experienced
- Evidence that the driver violated a traffic law
If the presumption is successfully countered, the jury will decide whether or not there was negligence. Despite the rebuttable presumption of negligence, drivers in Florida should be reminded that Florida is a comparative negligence state, meaning that even in rear-end collisions, juries can assign liability and fault to both the front and back drivers.
How Can an Attorney Help?
Rear-end collisions can cause serious injuries and have long-term consequences that can last months or even years. In many cases, determining who is at fault in a rear-end collision can be difficult, particularly in our state. As previously stated, Florida is a comparative negligence state, which means that fault can be assigned to all parties based on the percentage of fault they bear.
For example, if you were rear-ended at a Miami intersection but stopped short, you may be found partially at fault, and any damages for which the rear-ending driver is liable will be reduced by the percentage of one’s fault.
That being said, drivers should keep in mind that Florida is also a no-fault state, which means that each driver’s insurance is responsible for paying for their injuries. So, in most rear-end collisions, the degree of fault is largely irrelevant, unless you suffer a serious injury for which you would file a personal injury lawsuit. Thus, if you have been in a rear-end collision, a lawyer can be especially helpful in determining who is at fault and how to obtain the compensation you deserve.
Call us Today to Speak with a Car Accident Lawyer
The Law Offices of Leonard J. Valdes is a well-known Miami-based personal injury law firm with over 12 years of experience serving clients. If you or a loved one have been involved in an accident, contact our office today for a consultation.