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Planning a weekend drive in Palm Beach often comes with daydreams of sunny skies and salt-scented ocean breezes. Unfortunately, reality may butt into that daydream and bring with it the most common type of car crash: rear-end accidents.

According to federal data, rear-end accidents account for 29% of all crashes in the U.S. That means you’re more likely than not to experience one during your time on the road. With that in mind, here are some things you should know about West Palm Beach rear-end accidents.

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Determining Liability for a Rear-End Accident

Is fault automatic in a West Palm Beach rear-end car accident?

There is a “presumption of negligence” that’s put upon the rear driver in a rear-end accident. However, that doesn’t mean the rear driver will be found completely at fault during an ensuing car accident lawsuit or by authorities at the scene of the wreck.

The presumption of negligence means the law assumes the rear driver is responsible for the accident unless the rear driver can provide evidence otherwise.

In cases where rear drivers claim they were surprised by the lead driver’s sudden stop, Florida courts, including the state’s top court, have said that accidents are common enough that there should be reasonable precautions taken to avoid sudden stop crashes.

As such, sudden stopping of the lead car isn’t enough on its own to void the presumption of fault. A Florida Supreme Court ruling on the matter cited a state statute that says drivers shouldn’t follow other vehicles “more closely than is reasonable and prudent” when considering vehicle speed and traffic conditions. That statute says that outside of business and residential districts, drivers should keep no less than 300 feet between them and a lead car.

In summary: rear driver fault may be assumed in rear-end car accidents, but that assumption isn’t final and can be contested in court.

What is comparative fault in Florida?

Florida is one of several states that abides by the comparative fault rule. This rule essentially means that you can be found to have been a certain percentage at fault for the crash, and any crash-related compensation will decrease proportionally to that percentage.

Obtaining Compensation After a Rear-End Car Accident

In the immediate aftermath of a car accident, you may be able to get some of your medical costs covered through your personal injury protection (PIP) coverage. Florida requires all drivers to carry at least $10,000 worth of PIP coverage, and it’s a well you can pull from without waiting on a fault declaration.

PIP coverage is usually limited and conditional, so you may want to pursue a car accident lawsuit to cover additional medical attention and ongoing treatment.

If you’ve been injured in a rear-end car accident, you also may be eligible for compensation for related emotional and financial costs. Pursuing this compensation will require you to file a car accident lawsuit.

An experienced West Palm Beach rear-end accident lawyer will know what options are available to you. Book a free consultation with our lawyers today to find out more.

Common Types of Rear-End Accident Injuries

According to federal data, there were more than 2,300 fatal rear-end accidents in 2019. There were another 595,231 injury-only rear-end collisions. Common types of rear-end accident injuries include:

Whiplash

Whiplash occurs when your neck is forced back and forth. It is considered a type of neck sprain and usually can be treated over the course of several weeks. However, whiplash can sometimes be the start of chronic neck pain.

Symptoms include but aren’t limited to neck pain or stiffness, loss of neck range of motion, painful neck movement, and shoulder pain and stiffness.

Rib Bruising and Breaking

Sudden force, like that transferred and applied during rear-end collisions, can bruise or break your ribs, causing them to separate from their anchoring breast bone or cartilage.

Symptoms include pain in your chest area that worsens when you inhale, swelling or discoloration of the affected area, tenderness, and intense pain when coughing or sneezing. In certain cases, you may also hear a sharp crack when a rib breaks.

However, you shouldn’t expect to hear the sound of a rib breaking over the cacophony that accompanies a rear-end collision. Untreated, broken ribs can lead to a pierced aorta, lung, or other organ, all of which can be deadly.

Herniated Discs

The discs in your lumbar, thoracic, and cervical spine that cushion your vertebrae can be shoved out of place with enough force, leaving you with a herniated disc.

Also known as a slipped or bulging disc, herniated discs can press on nerves and cause pain, numbness, or tingling of the affected area. In severe cases, herniated discs can lead to paralysis. Not all herniated discs send the warning signal that is pain, so get a medical check-up as soon as possible after your accident.

Traumatic Brain Injuries

Blunt force trauma to the head, like that caused by slamming your head into a headrest or steering wheel, can cause severe trauma outside of bruising and a bloody nose. TBIs are one of the most common causes of adult death and disability.

The symptoms of a TBI may take some time to develop, giving the condition time to unknowingly worsen. A study found that some of the most serious TBIs caused by car accidents were those caused by rear-end collisions.

If you suspect that you’ve been injured in a rear-end collision, seek immediate medical attention. Ignoring symptoms or delaying medical intervention may cause your injuries to worsen and become chronic or fatal.

Contact a West Palm Beach Rear-Accident Lawyer Today

Car accidents are traumatic and disorienting events, even more so when the only warning was a flash in your rearview mirror. Let us help you find your footing and get the help you need. Contact us today.