Rear-End Accidents & Whiplash Injury Attorney
Serving Kansas City, Independence, Blue Springs & Lee’s Summit
Rear-end accidents are among the most common type of automobile collisions and frequently cause sudden injuries to the neck, back, and spine. The standard in Missouri and other states is that a driver has a primary obligation to exercise the highest degree of care in the operation of their vehicle. Rear-end collisions usually occur because a driver fails to keep a careful lookout or keep a adequate distance between their vehicle and other vehicles on the roadway.
Rear-end accidents can be particularly dangerous when the negligent driver makes no effort to brake or avoid vehicles in front. Although modern cars are built to withstand violent collisions, drivers do not have the same advantage. In fact, the neck is most vulnerable to injury as the forces of energy are transferred through the rear end of the car to the driver. Buckled drivers are restrained from hitting the steering wheel and front dash, but the neck is unrestrained and that is why most people complain about neck injuries following a rear-end impact.
Many driving safety experts say that epidemic of distracted driving is responsible for an increase in rear-end accidents over the last 5 years. With the advent of the smart phone, coupled with unprecedented traffic volumes, we can expect rear-end accidents to significantly increase. Although car manufacturers are experimenting with crash avoidance systems, that technology appears to be years away.
It should be noted that rear end accidents that occurs from a cell phone distraction are usually more violent because cell phone manipulation is more likely to take our eyes from the road ahead for extended periods, usually greater than 3 seconds. In this scenario, drivers do not have the ability to brake or execute avoidance tactics.
The distracted driving crisis has caused highway patrols and local police departments to revise their Uniform Accident Reports be more specific as to the nature of the distraction. This is welcome news because proving distraction becomes more difficult after the accident scene investigations.
Contributing to driver risk for rear-end collisions is the fact that more drivers are driving at a higher rate of speed and under pressure to meet demands and deadlines.
Many people use the term “whiplash” to refer to a hyper-flexion/extension injury to the cervical spine. What often happens upon impact is that the neck is propelled backwards into the seat back or head rest. From there, the head is violently whipped forward toward the steering wheel. While a buckled driver is often saved from head injury, the damage is already done to the neck. The whipping of the cervical spine causes injuries to the ligaments and tendons. These soft tissues are the supporting structure of the neck and trauma causes stretching and tearing on these supporting structures.
Additionally, muscle spasm in response to the trauma causes the cervical vertebra to be displaced. This decreases range of motion and results in possible impingement of the inter-vertebral discs. When the vertebra presses upon the disc it can also interfere will the nerve roots that travel into the shoulder and arm areas. Common symptoms typically include headache, stiffness, soreness, radiating pain, numbness and tingling.
Neck, back, & spinal injuries that are caused from rear end accidents almost always require rehabilitation treatment to reduce muscle spasms and restore proper function to either the cervical, thoracic, or lumbar spine. Many people select a chiropractor to rehabilitate a neck or back injury. Chiropractors utilize spinal adjustment and passive therapies to reduce muscle spasm and reduce proper function to the neck. Rehabilitation can take up to several months. Traditional physical therapy can also be used.
While medications can help to reduce pain or discomfort. While medications help to break the pain cycle, medications will not help increasing range of motion. Commonly a whiplash victim will have limited in their ability to rotate their neck to the right or left.
In some cases, depending on the medical evidence, chronic problems can develop from the rear-end accidents. Most notably people will continue having range of motion difficulties and pain that lingers well after an accident. In some cases, people opt for pain management treatment in order to block the pain signals. This is often done in conjunction with rest and avoidance of physical activities that put extra stress in the area of trauma.
Insurance adjusters tend to be very skeptical of claimants who complain of a neck or back injury following a rear-end accident. While they seldom deny the claim on the basis of fault (or liability), they will frequently deny claims because they do not believe the force of impact was sufficient enough to cause injury. In these cases, representation from Horn Law can be vital. One of ways we deal with this situation is to have an independent radiologist evaluate the post-collision x-rays. While these x-rays may have been read as “normal”, because there was no fracture present, a specialized radiologist can determine from the vertebral position as to whether there is recent trauma. This is extremely helpful because with this evidence we can show that our client’s complaints squared with the x-ray evidence.
An attorney should only take on a case where the legal representation is going to make a significant difference for the client. Thus, in a rear-end accident case, there are 4 crucial areas where a crash lawyer can make a significant difference:
- Liability (fault issues)
- Causation (nature & extent of injury)
- Damages (past, present, and future/economic & non-economic)
- Insurance Coverages & Negotiations
Horn Law offers you a free investigation. Legal consultation, case assessments, and examinations from an experienced personal injury attorney are important when you are working with insurance claim agents or other insurance company representative. Contact Horn Law at 816-795-7500 free of charge for legal consultation.