According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), over two million rear-end collisions occur each year throughout the United States, causing thousands of injuries and fatalities. Undoubtedly, some of these rear-end crashes occur in Brooklyn. In fact, rear-end collisions make up a little less than one-third of all motor vehicle accidents, making them the most common type of traffic crash.
The reasons that rear-end collisions occur in Brooklyn are not all that different from why they occur anyplace else in the city, state, or nation. Brooklyn’s heavy traffic does increase the likelihood of being involved in rear-end traffic collisions. However, rear-end collisions are entirely preventable and most often result from driver negligence.
If you suffered injuries in a Brooklyn rear-end collision, contact an attorney to learn about your options to seek compensation for damages and determine the best course of action for your situation. Until you have the chance to meet with a car accident lawyer, we cover many of the most likely causes of Brooklyn rear-end collisions, followed by common injuries associated with rear-end crashes, and steps you should take if a Brooklyn driver strikes the rear end of your vehicle and injures you.
Causes of Brooklyn Rear-end Collisions
Weather and mechanical failure contribute to rear-end crashes in Brooklyn, but even under these circumstances, driver negligence is often the ultimate cause of an accident.
Common ways in which Brooklyn drivers cause rear-end collisions include:
Driving while distracted is among the leading causes of rear-end collisions in Brooklyn, throughout New York, and throughout the United States. Although New York law forbids drivers from using hand-held electronic devices while driving, some drivers do not comply. Driving distractions include any activity that takes a drivers’ eyes, hands, or mind away from the task at hand; texting while driving falls under all three categories, putting it among the most dangerous activities any driver can do.
A simple glance at the phone to read a text message or send a quick emoji response can lead to a rear-end collision if a driver doesn’t react quickly enough to the vehicle in front of them. This is especially dangerous in Brooklyn’s heavy traffic. Stop-and-go traffic on the Beltway during rush hour creates the perfect circumstances for rear-end collisions when drivers use their cell phones or succumb to other driving distractions.
However, cell phone use is not the only distracted driving behavior that can lead to a rear-end crash.
Examples of other activities that distract drivers include:
- Adjusting vehicle features, such as heat, A/C, radio, sunroof, seat, etc.
- Assisting backseat passengers, especially parents tending to young children
- Combing hair, putting on makeup, and other personal grooming habits
- Arguing with other occupants
- Reaching for something on the floor or in the backseat
- Focusing on a person or event outside the vehicle
Regardless of the specific distraction, drivers need to pay attention, so they can react appropriately to the vehicle in front of them at a stoplight, at a stop sign, or in heavy Brooklyn traffic.
Going over the speed limit is not always the direct cause of a rear-end crash in Brooklyn, but it plays a role in many accidents. This is especially true when drivers are going too fast for weather or road conditions. The NHTSA clearly outlines the dangers of speeding, but two specific factors increase the likelihood of a rear-end collision: loss of control and decreased stopping distance.
It’s difficult to go excessively fast on some streets in Brooklyn thanks to stoplights and traffic. However, drivers on the Beltway who speed, even if only keeping up with traffic, have a greater risk of losing control of their vehicle. In critical situations, loss of control could lead to a dangerous rear-end collision.
The faster a vehicle travels, the more distance they need to slow or come to a complete stop. At 20 miles per hour, the average vehicle only needs about three car lengths to stop completely. At 70 miles per hour, stopping distance more than quadruples. Most vehicles require approximately 24 car lengths to stop completely. When a vehicle slows or stops suddenly, those following need adequate stopping distance to avoid a rear-end collision. Unfortunately, speeding sometimes means avoiding a collision is impossible, especially if a driver follows another vehicle too closely or while distracted.
Poor Vehicle Maintenance
With the millions of vehicles that travel on Brooklyn’s streets each year, it’s fair to assume not all of them are in the best running condition. Poor vehicle maintenance can lead to all types of traffic accidents, but poor brake maintenance is most likely to lead to a rear-end collision. It’s possible that someone has faulty brake pads or another part of their braking system is defective. However, more often than not, issues with brakes occur due to a vehicle owner’s failure to inspect, fix, and replace parts as needed.
Loss of braking fluid, worn brake pads, worn rotors, and a variety of other issues can prevent a vehicle from slowing or stopping when necessary. Owners who do not properly maintain their vehicles can’t stop when their brakes fail, causing a potentially dangerous and fatal rear-end collision. Trucking companies who do not maintain their trucks especially put Brooklyn drivers at risk for a serious rear-end crash because heavy trucks do more damage to vehicles when they strike them.
Brooklyn drivers might suffer impairment from multiple sources. Brooklyn has become a new hot spot for foodies with exciting restaurants, clubs, and pubs. Even drivers who do not struggle with alcohol addiction can easily consume too much to drink when enjoying themselves at a nearby hotspot. Illegal drugs, prescription drugs, and some over-the-counter drugs also impair some drivers. Finally, drivers who suffer from fatigue or lack of rest also face impairment that can affect their ability to drive safely and control their vehicles.
Operating a motor vehicle on Brooklyn’s busy streets and the Beltway means drivers need to absorb and process vast amounts of information from other traffic to pedestrians to stoplights and more. Regardless of why a driver is impaired, their reduced capacity makes it difficult, sometimes impossible to take in and process the information they need to avoid a rear-end collision.
Rear-end Crashes in Brooklyn Lead to Specific Types of Injuries
Traffic accident victims can suffer a wide range of injuries, and certain types of accidents often lead to specific injuries. Those involved in Brooklyn rear-end collisions face different injuries based on where they were sitting in the vehicle, how fast the vehicle was traveling when the crash occurred, and whether they were wearing a seat belt. Common injuries often associated with rear-end collisions include:
Soft Tissue Injuries
Soft tissues are the muscles, tendons, and ligaments in the human body. The impact of a rear-end collision forces drivers and passengers to jerk back and forth. Increased speed leads to more force during impact and stronger body movements. Extreme movements can tear soft tissues when it moves the body past its normal range of motion or stretches the tissues too far. Seat Belts help arrest this movement, but those who are in a rear-end collision can still suffer soft tissue injuries in the neck.
Muscle strains and sprains are the most common soft tissue injuries that occur during a Brooklyn rear-end accident. However, they are not always the most serious. Minor sprains and strains often heal on their own without intervention or long-term consequences. More severe injuries take time to heal, and torn soft tissues can create lifetime problems with movement and chronic pain. In most cases, those who tear a muscle or tendon must undergo surgery.
Neck and Back Injuries
If you have been in a Brooklyn rear-end collision, you could have suffered neck and/or back injuries. The rapid forward and backward motion that occurs during a crash can lead to more than soft tissue injuries. Drivers and occupants risk bulged discs or broken vertebrae, also potentially causing a spinal cord injury.
Whether in the neck or back, spinal injuries typically leave car accident victims with severe pain that does not go away. Surgery sometimes provides relief from the pain, but many accident victims must cope with chronic discomfort and pain for the rest of their life.
Rear-end collisions also sometimes lead to brain injuries. Passengers and occupants can suffer injuries from their brains moving around in their skull during the impact of the crash. However, others might directly strike their head on the steering column, dashboard, or seat in front of them and suffer a brain injury.
Traumatic brain injuries (CBI) come with a wide range of potential long-term consequences that damage a person’s cognitive abilities, senses, sensations, communication, personality, and other areas, depending on the injured part of the brain. In the worst-case scenarios, rear-end accident victims could suffer a TBI that leaves them in a coma or permanent vegetative state.
Protecting the Value of Your Claim After a Brooklyn Rear-end Collision
New York requires all those who register vehicles to carry a minimum of $50,000 in personal injury protection (PIP) coverage as part of their no-fault insurance laws. Your PIP coverage will take care of minor injuries, regardless of who caused your Brooklyn rear-end collision. However, severe and permanent injuries quickly use up your PIP coverage and require you to seek compensation for damages from the at-fault driver.
The driver’s insurance carrier will do everything possible to deny or devalue your claim, so make the best possible decisions after your accident to give you the best chances of receiving compensation for your injuries.
Adhere to as many of these guidelines and tips as possible after a Brooklyn rear-end accident:
- If you denied medical treatment at the accident scene, let a doctor examine you as soon as possible afterward. Some injuries do not show symptoms, and seemingly minor injuries could indicate larger problems. For example, a headache could indicate a brain injury, and soreness in the abdomen or chest could indicate broken ribs or internal organ damage. Your medical record is documentation of your injuries that serves as valuable evidence for the insurance company and court, if necessary.
- Immediately report your accident to your insurance carrier. You will need to do this to receive benefits under your PIP policy. Additionally, failure to report the accident could prevent your carrier from paying benefits or give the other side a reason to doubt your injuries. Reporting is especially important if a driver rear-ends your vehicle and leaves the scene of the accident. You need your uninsured motorist insurance coverage to kick in.
- Consult an experienced Brooklyn rear-end accident attorney. Your PIP coverage does not pay benefits for pain and suffering, loss of consortium, or other damages you suffered for which you cannot show a receipt or bill. A lawyer can guide you on the right path after you exceed your PIP coverage limits, giving you the best chance to recover maximum compensation for your injuries.
- Avoid speaking to friends, colleagues, and family members about your Brooklyn rear-end accident. Those who know you well will want to know the details of your accident and your injuries. It’s best to keep all details to yourself until after you have settled your claim, so you do not accidentally give any ammunition to the insurance adjuster investigating the case. Insurance companies are tricky and might talk to friends and family to find a way to devalue your claim.
- Keep all details about your rear-end crash and personal activities off social media. You do not have to close down your Facebook, Twitter, and/or Instagram accounts, but you should stick to non-personal posts until your claim resolves. Insurance adjusters find ways to access social media accounts and will look for photos or comments you have made that they can use to devalue your claim.