Rear-end collisions are the single most common motor vehicle accident type, accounting for one-sixth of all automobile claims. OSHA statistics show that rear-end collisions are the second most frequent type of auto accident among employer fleet drivers. The causes of these auto and truck accidents are easy to see. Studies of fleet vehicles show that a rear-end collision accident is more likely when the vehicle following is overloaded and when workers follow vehicles in front of them too closely.
The same conditions contribute to rear-end collisions among ordinary drivers. Under Oregon law, a driver may be considered negligent for following another vehicle “more closely than is reasonable and prudent, having due regard for the speed of the vehicles and the traffic upon, and condition of, the highway.”
Minor Impact Soft Tissue Cases
Perhaps because liability may be more apparent when the victim is hit from behind, insurers dispute damages resulting from “minor impact” soft tissue injuries. Like many people, they characterize rear-end crashes as “fender-benders,” relying on the stereotype that a big dent always means injury and a small dent always means no injury. But medical evidence shows that even a low-speed rear-end crash can cause serious neck and spine injuries. There is only a minimal association of a poor prognosis with the speed or severity of the collision and the extent of vehicle damage.
Rear-end collision injuries can be painful and debilitating, causing long-term suffering. One published study of drivers with reported whiplash injury found the risk of neck or shoulder pain seven years after rear-end collision was increased nearly three-fold compared with that in unexposed subjects.
Rear-End Collision Injury
The impact of a rear-end collision propels the head and upper body forward. Due to the positive acceleration that occurs in rear impacts, however, air bags do not usually deploy. When the body reaches the limits of a safety belt, it recoils and throws the head backward. Medical studies refer to this movement as an “extension acceleration injury.” There is nothing to stop backward movement of the head until the back of the skull hits the back of the chest wall. This is way beyond the normally permitted range of motion, and it can cause significant damage to the soft tissue of the neck.
Free Portland Collision Attorney Consultation
Despite the reality of “soft tissue” injuries, insurance companies continue to deny responsibility for personal injury damages sustained in low-speed impact cases. Without aggressive legal counsel, rear-end collision victims can find themselves faced with low settlement offers or none at all. Our Portland auto accident law office believes that the only way to achieve full and fair compensation for a rear-endd collision injury is to prepare the case for trial from the first day that we represent a client. If you or loved ones have been involved in a rear-end collision or other motor vehicle accident, contact us toll free at (800) 714-3204 or online.