Rear-End Car Accidents In Florida: What You Need To Know
When most people think of rear-end collisions, they imagine major crashes which result in major damage and death, however, the reality is that most rear-end incidents result from minor accidents. Minor crashes can cause major injuries, some of which aren’t visible and may not present in severe ways. Some injuries from minor accidents can sometimes take days or weeks to make themselves known to the injured.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports 40 percent of the 6 million car accidents each year are rear-end collisions. Another sobering fact from the NHTSA is that a rear-end collision occurs every 8 seconds in the United States.
From fender-benders to high-speed crashes, being involved in a rear-end collision can cause serious, debilitating and lifetime injury. Allstate’s 2017 Best Driver Report names Kansas City, Kansas as the #1 safest city for drivers in the nation. Drivers in Kansas City, Kansas will only experience a collision on average of every 14.9 years. The national average for collisions is ten years. Tampa Bay, Florida ranked 105th in the nation.
Types of Crashes and Their Injuries
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) studied crash types and their resulting crash injuries. The data reveals that Florida is one of the most dangerous states for both the type of crash and injuries involved in the study.
The types of car crashes reported across the United States:
- Side Impact or T-Bone
The damage done internally and externally from car accidents can range from mild and short-term to severe and debilitating or disabling. The following injuries are commonly seen in the four types of car crashes:
- Head and Brain Trauma
- Spinal Cord Damage
- Severed Limbs
- Broken Bones
- Muscle Tears
- Dislocated Discs
There is a frequent rate of rear-end collisions with neck injuries being the most common type of injury reported in this accident. Even minor bumps and less serious crashes can injure the neck by snapping it in a front then backward or sideways motion.
The IIHS Data Institute consistently studies ways to keep bodies safer in accidents with regard to car design. The key to reducing neck or related injuries is for the torso and head to remain together during movement, which they do not in a rear-end collision. The data institute works with automobile manufacturers to create better headrest and seat designs that will reduce injury which subsequently reduces medical and insurance costs as well as property damage costs.
Even minor or less severe accidents can cause injury that results in the inability to work, perform everyday activities, and maintain independence.
Causes Of Rear-End Collisions and How To Avoid Them
We all learned in driving school or in our Driver License testing that keeping a safe distance from other vehicles provides us with the ability to prevent a rear-end collision. Almost all rear-end collisions are the result of following at a distance that is too close.
The average driver’s reaction time is around ¾ of a second to 1 second. In ideal conditions, and with good brakes and tires, if you are traveling at 50 mph, it will take about 158 feet before your car comes to a stop. In Florida, the Department of Motor Vehicles suggests a following distance of 4 seconds.
The following are the most common causes of rear-end collisions across the nation:
- Distracted Driving
- Alcohol/Drug Intoxication
- Weather Conditions
- Road Conditions
Florida has a high incidence of rear-end collisions and there are driving corridors that are more dangerous than others. Five of the most frequent rear-end traffic accident corridors are in Tampa Bay, Florida:
- I-75 at Brandon Blvd
- I-75 at I-4
- US-19 at Tampa Road
- I-275 at I-4
- US-92 at I-275
Avoiding rear-end collisions altogether might be unavoidable as we cannot control the driving behavior of others nor external driving conditions like weather or infrastructure. However, there are tips that can help your own driving and keep you vigilant against the behavior of other drivers on the road.
We can forget, especially during rush-hour traffic when we’re tired, hungry, in a hurry or frustrated with heavy traffic that everyone else in the same mode we are in. Such things as monitoring your rear view and side mirrors, moving away from tailgaters and aggressive drivers, watching your speed, not texting while driving or tapping your brake lights to warn other drivers you are in the process of changing speed all help to reduce the chance of a rear-end collisions.
Whose Fault Is It really?
In Florida, a presumption of negligence is the law which means that the court will assume in all cases that the rear driver is at fault. This also means that the victim of a rear-end collision does not have to prove how or why they were rear-ended. They only have to prove that they were involved in the accident and that they were injured or received damages due to the accident.
The possibility exists, however, that a driver who rear-ends another driver can present evidence in court that puts half the fault with the front driver such as the front driver stopping suddenly or turning into the path of the rear vehicle. They can also have evidence that the front driver suddenly reversed or that their brake lights were not operable.
A rear driver does not have to prove all aspects of why they rear-ended another driver but the evidence must be sufficient enough that a jury of their peers would find it reasonable to have occurred.
What To Do if You’re Involved in a Rear-End Collision
In the State of Florida, it is against the law to leave the scene of any accident. A police report must be made with a police officer even if there were no injuries.
Make sure no one is physically injured and exchange personal and insurance information with the other driver. They could possibly be an uninsured or underinsured motorist and may refuse to exchange information with you. The police officer will be able to obtain their information, and you can then obtain a copy of the police report.
One of the most important things to remember in any accident is not to make statements of admission of guilt. This can be comments made to the other driver, their occupants or any witnesses. Stick to the facts of the accident only, leaving emotion out of the conversation as best as you are able, and not speculating on the accident.
If you are able, and it is safe, try to take as many photos as you can of injuries, damages, and the area of the accident. Contact your insurance company to initiate your claim, and advise them you have photos if that is the case.
Being in a car accident, even a minor one, can be confusing, scary, even shocking to some people if they’ve never experienced an accident. Insurance companies can delay or deny a claim, the other driver can attempt to claim you have half the fault or you may have already begun to acquire a lot of medical bills due to your accident.
In the event of a rear-end collision, you should always seek the advice of an experienced attorney who knows the law, knows how to deal with insurance companies, and understands the nature of personal injuries and the many variable aspects involved in car accidents. For a free consultation call our toll free number at 800-753-5203, where one of our injury law team members is standing by for your call.