Rear-end Accidents - Following Driver Negligent Absent Emergency or Special ConditionsOne of the most common accidents that I see as a Baltimore accident attorney is rear-end collisions. Typically, the first vehicle will start to slow down and the following vehicle fails to realize it causing a collision. Another common circumstance is people taking off at a light or in a traffic jam whereby the following car starts moving faster than the first vehicle resulting in a crash.
Other causes of rear end collision include:
- Driving Under the Influence. As you can imagine alcohol impacts motor functions and one's ability to judge distances which could result in one following too closely or not slowing down fast enough resulting in a collision.
- Sudden lane change. Changing lanes and cutting off another vehicle.
- Weather conditions. The weather impacts roadways in a number of ways including visibilty and traction. Tehrefore, safe speeds in a good weather day could be fatal if there is ice on the road.
- Vehicle parts fail to work as expect. Brakes can fail without warning and result in numerous accident each year.
Following Driver NegligenceIn Maryland and the District of Columbia, unless there is an emergency or unusual road conditions, a driver who strikes another in the rear is negligent. This means that establishing liability is much easier for incidents where the driver of the vehicle that initiates the crash was following in the same lane as the forward vehicle. Conflict usually arises when one or both parties allege lane changes immediately prior to the incident. For example, the following driver may claim that the forward vehicle suddenly merged onto his lane leaving him with little time to slow down and avoid a collision.
Emergency and Special ConditionsThe test is whether the condition is something that the following driver could not have foreseen. In addition, the driver shows that he or she responded to the existence of the situation is a reasonable manner. Examples: Medical emergency such as a heart attack or a seizure resulting in the driver losing control of the vehicle.
Common Injuries in Rear End Collisions In Maryland
- Neck and back injuries. As you can imagine, when your car is hit from the rear, your body is thrust back and forth causing strain on the neck and back. Sprains are painful and caould take months to heal. On the other hand, herniated discs may require surgery and take longer to resolve.
- Face and head injuries. Your face and head are exposed and could be pushed into the airbag or other parts of the vehicle causing injury. Victims may also suffer what is known as a closed-head injury to their brain. This is an injury that occurs from the brain striking the inside of your skull and does not require the head to strike anything within the car.
- Hands, Shoulders and Legs. Your limbs are likely to hit parts of your vehicle as you absorb the force of impact resulting in lacerations or broken bones.
Defenses to Rear End Collision Accidents in Maryland
- Involvement of another Vehicle. If another vehicle struck the following driver pushing him into the forward car then you can be that the following vehicle will allege the cause of the accident was that other vehicle. As a result, plaintiff's should investigate and consider filing all claims against all vehicles involved.
- Driving in reverse. If the forward driver backs his vehicle into the following vehicle then the following driver can defeat the presumption of liability.
- Abrupt lane change. If a forward driver suddenly changes lanes or stops abruptly contributing to a crash he is susceptible to two defenses. First, he could be found negligent for not operating his vehicle in a reasonable manner by making sudden movements. Secondly, Maryland is a contributory negligence states which means if the is found to have contributed even as little as 1% toward the cause of the accident then he is barred from recovery. The latter rule mean that a defendant who is 99% negligent does not have to pay.
- Disabled Vehicle Without Visible Emergency Warnings . If your vehicle is disable you have a duty to warn other drivers by using visible warning signs. Failure to do so could result in a contributory negligence defense if an accident occurs.
- Malfunctioning brake or tail lights. If the forward vehicle’s brake and/or tail lights are not working so that following drivers are warned of an impending stop or turn then a contributory negligence defense could be raised.