According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), rear-end collisions are more common than any other type of accident. In fact, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) reported that in 2012 alone, 1.7 million rear-end collisions occurred in the United States, leading to over 1,700 fatalities and 500,000 injuries. They account for more than one-third of all collisions in the U.S. each year, and most take place when the lead car is either stopped or moving very slowly prior to the accident. The harder the impact in the collision, the greater the risk of injuries or fatalities.
Despite the fact that researchers have known about the frequency of rear-end collisions for decades, little has been done to address the issue since 1986, when manufacturers began outfitting vehicles with a center high-mounted stop lamp (CHMSL). While the addition helped decrease rear-end crashes by about 4%, statistics have not improved.
Rear-End Collisions Are Common in the Pittsburgh, PA Area
Like the rest of the U.S., rear-end collisions are the most common type of accident in Pennsylvania and the Pittsburgh, PA area. The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) found that nearly 30,000 rear-end collisions occurred throughout Pennsylvania in 2017, accounting for approximately one-third of the state’s motor vehicle accidents that year. 3,530 took place in Allegheny County alone that year, representing more than one-quarter of all accidents in the Pittsburgh area.
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Prevalent Injuries in Rear-end Collisions
Rear-end collisions led to 7% of all fatal injuries in Pennsylvania in 2017. Although rear-end and sideswipe accidents cause fewer fatalities than other types of collisions, research suggests the prevalence of serious injuries in rear-end crashes, particularly those to the neck and spine. According to an article in the medical journal Trauma, common patterns of injury associated with rear-end collisions include whiplash and fractures to the cervical spine. Similarly, a study conducted at the Spine Pain Research Lab at the University of Pennsylvania stated that rear impacts in which the victim’s head was turned “significantly exceeded physical elongation limits.”
The Mayo Clinic describes the effects of whiplash, which an accident victim usually begins to experience within a few days of the accident. While some minor symptoms such as neck stiffness and headaches go away on their own, certain cases of whiplash can lead to more serious complications such as severe pain that spreads to the back or arms, which can become chronic.
The Prevention of Rear-End Collisions
Since 1995, the NTSB has encouraged the use of technology to prevent rear-end collisions, during which time the agency has developed 12 recommendations regarding this issue. After finding in 2007 that nearly 9 in 10 rear-end crashes result when a driver fails to pay attention to the road ahead of them, the NTSB began encouraging the use of forward collision avoidance systems (CAS) by suggesting that drivers purchase cars with CAS technology and trucking companies integrate trucks with this feature into their fleets. In most cases, CAS works by warning drivers of an imminent accident and applying emergency brakes if the driver does not stop in time. Researchers note that this type of technology, which the NHTSA also recommends, is necessary for reducing the number of rear-end collisions on U.S. roads.
Recoverable Damages in Rear-End Collision Cases
If you or a loved one suffered a serious or fatal injury in a rear-end collision, you may qualify for compensation for your injuries resulting from the accident. The types of awards you may seek depend on the circumstances of your case, but they may include recovery for:
- Medical bills
- Lost wages
- Loss of future income
- Property damage
- Pain and suffering
- Funeral and burial expenses
A lawyer cannot guarantee that you will receive certain types or amounts of financial awards, but they can evaluate your damages for you so that you can pursue adequate recovery.
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Statutes of Limitations on Rear-End Collisions in Pennsylvania
You may have the option to file a claim against the liable driver in your rear-end collision case, but 42 PA Cons Stat § 5524 limits the amount of time you have to do so. Typically, victims have up to two years from the date of the accident to file a claim for damages, and the personal representative of the decedent’s estate can file a wrongful death suit within two years of the victim’s date of death. However, some cases, such as those involving minors, have different requirements and limitations. A lawyer can determine how much time you have left to file your claim and help you get started on the process if you qualify.
A Lawyer Can Help You with Your Case
Rear-end collisions are common in the Pittsburgh, PA area. If you suffered injuries or lost a loved one in a rear-end crash as the result of another driver’s negligence, you may have the opportunity to recover damages in your case. As a hybrid state, Pennsylvania drivers can choose between no-fault or full tort coverage, which may limit your ability to pursue financial awards.
The lawyers at Berger and Green can help by determining your options, filing your claim, and seeking financial awards on your behalf. Contact our legal team today at (412) 661-1400 for your free case evaluation.