I will attempt to draw two pictures, in order that you might see a stark contrast of what is necessary and that, which is completely unnecessary. Rear-end accidents occur numerous times daily, for a plethora of reasons. Most times, they occur because the driver in the rear car is not paying attention or the driver in the front car does something abrupt, and the rear car cannot react fast enough. The fact of the matter is that the driver of the car that rear-ends another will, in most cases, be charged with following too close.
Recently, I had a friend who was stopped, attempting to turn into a turn lane. As we are starting to see more and more of this in our area, too much traffic for too little of a turn lane causes vehicles to have to sit stopped in the lane of travel. If other drivers are not paying attention, an accident will occur. In this particular case, another person was texting, while driving the speed limit, and hit this stopped vehicle with no skid marks. Both people were injured, and my friend continues to have accident-related medical issues today. The driver of the rear vehicle is, again in most cases, held liable for all damages and injuries, which is why we have insurance. Incidentally, the damage to both vehicles was tremendous.
Another friend had a rear-end accident where he was driving the vehicle in the rear. Both vehicles were stopped at an intersection. The vehicle in front began to proceed and, for whatever reason, stopped abruptly. My friend, probably looking at oncoming traffic, struck the vehicle. This accident involved a low-speed impact, with much less damage than the previous one described. My friend stated that there was no damage to the vehicle that he struck, and when he got out to ask, the person stated that they were not hurt. Let me say, our body’s reaction to injury may be delayed and not instantaneous. It is interesting that the moment the police arrived, the person in the front car began to complain about neck and back pain and had to be transported to a nearby hospital.
I cannot tell you the number of accidents that I responded to in my career as a firefighter where people were not hurt, but saw dollar signs and the opportunity to never work again. We were required to handle all of these cases in the same way, whether injured or not. We have become a sue-happy society; why even television commercials lead people to believe that they can settle for large sums of money, “if they have been wronged.”
The system was set up to protect the person that truly is injured, and whose property has been damaged. However, the person who abuses this system makes it worse for everyone involved. The best way to stay out this predicament is to do everything possible to not have an accident, which is difficult with the way people drive. Your liability in a rear-end accident, if you are at fault, could be more than you can imagine. I still believe that rules of the road on the highway should be similar to rules of the road at sea, in that everyone shares part of the responsibility to prevent an accident, at all costs.