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Rear-end collisions are the most common type of car accident. Indeed, such collisions account for roughly one-third of all motor vehicle accidents in a given year. And while victims are less likely to die in rear-end collisions versus other types of auto accidents, such as head-on or T-bone collisions, they can still suffer serious injuries that require extensive medical treatment.

While you might think of rear-end collisions as a “fender bender” that are an inevitable consequence of driving around a dense metropolitan area like Houston, the reality is that in most cases one of the drivers is at-fault. And under Texas law, that at-fault driver is responsible for any out-of-pocket losses and other damages incurred by the victims. An experienced Houston rear-end collisions attorney can help you in recovering such damages. The Stano Law Firm is a Texas personal injury firm dedicated to helping car accident victims receive the full and just compensation they are entitled to under the law.

Who Is Responsible for a Rear-End Accident in Texas?

One myth that you often hear about rear-end collisions is that it is “always” the rear or trailing driver’s fault. That is not so. It is true that in most cases the rear driver is ultimately found responsible. But Texas law does not automatically dictate such a finding. As with any personal injury claim arising from a car accident, it is up to the victim in a rear-end collision to establish a driver’s negligence as a matter of law.

So what is considered negligence when it comes to a rear-end collision? Here are a few examples:

  • The driver of the leading vehicle slows down due to upcoming traffic. The driver of the rear vehicle is tailgating. This does not leave the rear driver enough time to safely slow down along with the leading driver. A collision results. The rear driver is at-fault for not maintaining a safe stopping distance.
  • The leading driver activates their turn signal. The rear driver fails to notice the turn signal and collides with the leading vehicle as it slows down before entering their turn. Once again, the rear driver is at-fault.
  • The leading driver suddenly slams on their brakes for no apparent reason. The rear driver is taken by surprise and is unable to avoid a rear-end collision. In this scenario, the leading driver may be partly or completely at-fault unless they had a valid reason to abruptly stop.
  • The tail lights on the leading driver’s vehicle are inoperative. If the leading driver knew about the problem and continued to drive without working lights, they could be liable for a rear-end collision.

It is important to note that Texas adheres to a modified comparative negligence rule in all personal injury cases. Put simply, this means that when determining legal responsibility for a rear-end collision, a jury will look at the relative fault of both parties. If the plaintiff is partially to blame, their compensation is reduced accordingly. And if the plaintiff is mostly at-fault–i.e., their comparative negligence is 51 percent or higher–then they receive nothing.

How Serious Are Injuries from a Rear-End Collision?

Because rear-end collisions typically involve the bumpers of the two vehicles, many people assume that the vehicles absorb the brunt of the impact and any injuries to the occupants are minor. While it is true that people often walk away from a rear-end collision without any noticeable injuries, there are actually many cases where someone sustains a serious injury that requires immediate medical attention. This is why you should always get checked out at a nearby emergency room, clinic, or by your primary care physician following any rear-end accident.

Some of the more common rear-end collision injuries that we see with out clients at the Stano Law Firm include:

  • Back Injuries: Even a low-speed rear-end collision may lead to a compression of a victim’s spinal column, leading to bulging or herniated discs. This frequently manifests itself in the form of back pain, which can progressively worsen over time.
  • Dislocations and Fractures: The sudden impact of a rear-end collision can easily cause someone to dislocate or fracture their hands and arms. This can lead to more serious shoulder damage that may require surgery.
  • Neck Injuries: People in the leading vehicle of a rear-end collision often experience “whiplash,” i.e., the hyperextension of their neck as it abruptly moves backward then forward. Whiplash is perhaps the most common injury we see in rear-end collisions, and it often leaves victims with chronic neck and back pain that requires ongoing care.
  • Traumatic Brain Injuries: Just as the sudden movement of your neck can lead to whiplash, the violent jostling of your brain can lead to a concussion, a term used to describe a mild-to-moderate traumatic brain injury. The scary thing about such injuries is that symptoms may not present themselves until several days or weeks after the accident. And those symptoms can range from temporary headache or nausea to long-term cognitive impairments.

Keep in mind that if you are the victim of a rear-end collision, you can seek compensation from the negligent driver for all of your past and estimated future medical bills, as well as recovery of any lost income or diminished earning capacity as a result of your injuries. You may also seek non-economic damages to cover your pain, suffering, emotional trauma, and other intangible losses that do not carry a fixed price tag. Texas generally does not limit recovery of non-economic damages in rear-end collision lawsuits, so your non-economic damages may be quite substantial depending on the nature of your injuries.

Speak with a Houston Rear-End Accident Attorney Today

When a negligent driver causes a rear-end accident, their insurance company is often quick to present a lowball settlement offer to the victims. If you find yourself in this position, remember that you never need to accept a first offer. And you should definitely consult with a skilled Houston personal injury lawyer whose practice focuses on rear-end collisions. The team at the Stano Law Firm is happy to sit down with you and review your case. Call us today at (832) 777-0390 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.