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What You Should Know About Rear-End Collisions

A study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that rear-end accidents account for 29 % of the collisions that happen on the road throughout the United States. Our personal injury attorneys have represented countless victims who have suffered injuries in a rear-end accident. While there are no two cases that are exactly alike, this article will discuss a number of issues that we frequently see come up in these types of accidents in Maryland.

How do they happen and who is at fault?

In a Maryland personal injury action involving a rear-end collision, there is usually a presumption that the driver of the rear vehicle is legally responsible for damages caused by the accident. The State legislature has made clear that all drivers must maintain a sufficient distance from vehicles in front of them to ensure they are able to avoid an accident, taking into account surrounding traffic conditions and the traveling speed of the vehicle ahead. Maryland Transportation Code Annotated §21-310(a).

The large majority of the rear-end accident cases that we see involve a front-driver that is either at a complete stop at the time of impact or slowing their vehicle. Drivers owe a duty to pay full time and attention while operating a motor vehicle in Maryland. A driver who fails to brake or take other evasive action to avoid colliding with a vehicle in front of them is presumed to have breached that duty and is therefore liable for the damages that result.

Below are some of the most common examples of this:

· A driver tail-gating (following closely) another car on the highway is not able to stop when the other car slows for traffic ahead, smashing into its rear.

· A driver on the roadway is distracted on a phone call, texting, eating, or changing the music (just to name a few) and does not see the car ahead slowing for traffic until it is too late.

· A driver at a stoplight accelerates too quickly when the light turns green, not giving the vehicle in front enough time to move and colliding with their rear.

· A front driver slams on its brakes to avoid colliding with the driver of a vehicle who swerved into their lane, but the driver behind them is unable to stop in time and hits the back of their car.

Damages in a Rear-End Accident

Even when liability is clear against the rear-driver, an experienced personal injury attorney will always be necessary to ensure that the insurance company fairly compensates you for your pain and suffering. Rear-end accidents can be as damaging as they are common, frequently leaving personal injury victims to deal with significant physical, mental, and financial hardships in their aftermath.

Pre-Impact Fright

Often in rear-end collisions, personal injury victims know that a collision is going to occur before it actually does. For example, when drivers have to suddenly slow for traffic ahead on the beltway, they will also check their rearview mirror in hopes that the driver behind them will safely follow suit. Clients have told us that it quickly becomes clear when is not going to stop and that in the moments before impact, they experienced a fear that they could never imagine.

In Maryland, pre-impact fright is a recoverable damage… you’re entitled to additional money for this specific trauma.


Whiplash refers to an injury that occurs when the muscles, tendons and ligaments of your neck are stretched as a result of abruptly being thrown forward and snapped backward. The symptoms of whiplash can appear as sharp pain, stiffness and severe muscle spasms that can last for months after the accident, making everyday life during that time… painful.

Herniated Disc

The abrupt back and forth snapping of your head/body in a rear-end impact can cause a vertebral disc to push into nerves surrounding your spine. This type of injury can require surgical intervention depending on the severity and symptoms.

Shoulder Injuries/Rotator Cuff Tears

We often see personal injury victims who are perplexed by pain in one of both of their shoulders following a rear-end impact. They report that they did not hit their shoulders on anything in the vehicle and often assume that their shoulder pain is secondary to muscle spasms/whiplash.

After further evaluation, many were revealed to have suffered muscular and tendon tears in their shoulder. Experts explain that this occurs in rear-end accidents when a victim braces themselves with their arms out on the steering wheel, causing the shoulder joint(s) to forcefully jam upon impact.

The damages listed above are a small sample of the injuries we have witnessed our clients endure after a rear-end accident. We always say, there is no one-size-fits-all, and it is crucial that you never make assumptions about your condition after the accident without first discussing it with your personal injury attorney and your treating providers.

If you have been injured in a rear-end accident, call our Maryland personal injury attorneys today for a free case evaluation.