There are millions of accidents across the U.S. each year. In 2012, 1,934 people were killed in rear-end collisions according to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. If you’ve been in an accident, this information will help you determine whether you have a case. Speaking with an experienced auto accident attorney who has dealt with rear-end accidents is important too.

What Causes Rear-End Collisions?

Distracted Drivers
When a driver is not paying attention to the road, it’s often as bad as being a drunk driver. Loud music, talking on a cell phone, eating and dealing with children in the back all contribute to distracted driving and can lead to rear-end accidents.

Tailgating
While there are traffic laws regarding tailgating, it’s become less strict, and drivers are known to tailgate excessively. They should be remaining a prudent length from the car in front of them, but they don’t, which results in a driver who can’t stop quickly. Rear-end collisions are the result.

Drunk Driving
A person’s reflexes are severely inhibited when they have been drinking, so they should never get behind the wheel. Intoxication can lead to serious accidents.

Weather Conditions
Slippery conditions with wet roadways from snow, ice and slush can cause hazardous roadways. Wind and fog can have an impact on driving conditions too. They can all lead to accidents.

Pedestrians
People who suddenly dart into the street can be a hazard for many drivers. When you have to stop short, you run the risk of having the person behind you not notice in time. It can cause serious rear-end collisions.

Unexpected Stops
Pedestrians jaywalking is not the only time that drivers might have to make sudden stops. Balls bouncing into the street, construction workers flagging cars or other accidents can cause sudden stops. The driver behind you should be traveling at a safe speed and distance, but often, accidents happen because they aren’t.

Injuries Common with Rear-End Collisions

Whiplash
When someone hits your car from behind, you’ll almost always have whiplash injuries. The neck and head will suddenly snap beyond the range that’s normal. Your head will snap backward violently then forward. It’s also known as hypertextension and hyperflexion. It’s whips the muscles and bones in your neck, shoulders and spine, which can cause serious tearing of the tendons as well as the bones in the area. Pain can last for days to weeks depending on the extent of the injury.

Back Injuries
Impact to the body can have a serious impact on the spine. It can compress the spine and cause herniated disks in the lower back. The force of the collision can have an impact on how serious the injury is but even a small collision at low speeds can cause back injury.

Face and Head Injuries
When you’re in a car accident, the airbag can deploy. As long as the vehicle is traveling at more than 20 miles per hour, the airbag will deploy. While airbags save lives, they can also cause injury to the face, neck and head. If the airbag doesn’t deploy or the car doesn’t have one, the person can smash their face into the steering wheel breaking bones and injuring the eyes.

Soft Tissue Injuries or Broken Bones
The safety devices in your vehicle can cause bruising or soft tissue injury, which is anything that isn’t a broken bone. Broken bones are common in car accidents.

Determining Who is at Fault

All drivers have a responsibility to operate their vehicle in a safe manner. They should be driving safely and not violating traffic laws. They should be focused on the roadway, and not distracted by anything inside or outside the vehicle. When the driver violates his responsibility to operate safely, he can cause an accident by striking your vehicle from behind.

While not all rear-end collisions are the fault of the second car’s driver, they can commonly be the result of tailgating or distracted driving. An experienced lawyer can help you determine who was at fault in the accident.

Evidence to be Gathered

The attorney will want to have evidence to determine who was at fault. While yours was the vehicle struck from behind, it doesn’t mean that you’re automatically innocent of fault. There are some instances where the driver who stops suddenly could be partly at fault too.

The lawyer will have to look at accident reports and talk to witnesses that were at the scene. Photographs of the accident itself will help the lawyer make a determination of who was at fault in the accident.

Your Responsibilities After an Accident

To help your attorney bring your case to the insurance company, you should be providing as much detail and information as possible. After the accident, call the police so they can document the accident. If you have injuries, an ambulance should be called to bring you to the hospital.

When the police arrive, they may give the person a field sobriety test. If you’re able to, take a video of the test for your lawyer to bring to the insurance company.

Pictures of the accident, the streets and the scene itself are vital for helping the lawyer with your case later. If you can’t take pictures, have someone at the scene do it for you.

Check for witnesses who might have seen the accident. Write down their names and contact information for your attorney. They may have seen the person texting, tailgating or being distracted before the accident.

The lawyer for your case has to prove the other driver was liable for the accident. The more information you can provide, the easier it will be for your lawyer to get you compensation for your lost wages, medical bills or pain and suffering.