According to the Denver Regional Council of Governments (DRCOG), over half of all traffic accidents in Colorado are rear-end collisions.
Being involved in a rear-end collision can be scary, but it’s important to know what to do and how these types of accidents are distinct.
Below, we’ve gathered some information about rear-end collisions, including their causes, effects, and what to do if you’re involved in one.
If you’ve been injured in a rear-end collision in the Colorado Springs area, contact our car accident lawyer for help with your specific case.
Colorado Springs Rear-end Accident Statistics
According to the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT), there were 118,842 vehicle crashes throughout Colorado in 2017. For perspective, there were 12,470 crashes in El Paso County that year alone.
While the number of crash fatalities seems to be dropping, the total number of accidents and insurance claims are on the rise in the Colorado Springs area.
What’s troubling, though, is that most of these crashes are preventable. In fact, most rear-end crashes happen because of improper driver behavior.
Common Causes of Rear-end Accidents
A little over half of crashes occurring between moving motor vehicles (as opposed to those involving a fixed object like a pole) are rear-end collisions. The primary reasons? Following too closely and not paying attention. In Colorado Springs, there are also a few unique factors that can lead to accidents:
- Construction zones
- Motorcycle driver behavior
- Cyclist and pedestrian behavior
Despite Colorado’s reputation for unpredictable and quick-to-change weather, more than 80 percent of crashes occurred on dry road conditions, rather than wet roads or roads with snow, ice, or slush. What’s more surprising, more than 70 percent of crashes occurred during daylight hours.
Who or what causes accidents most frequently? It’s not young, inexperienced drivers who make up 17 percent of traffic accidents. And it’s not aggressive driving or driving under the influence, which make up 10.5 percent and 9.9 percent, respectively. Distracted driving is the most common cause of accidents at 25.9 percent.
Common Injuries from Rear-end Collisions
Rear-end collisions are, unfortunately, frequent in Colorado. While many rear-end accidents are injury-free, many do in fact cause injury. Common rear-end accident injuries include:
- Whiplash: An injury sustained when the head is quickly and forcefully thrown backward and forward. Symptoms of whiplash include concussion, headaches, neck pain, and stiffness.
- Bruises: Contusions and bruising are common along the chest, face, and arms from impact with a window, dashboard, seatbelt, or airbags.
- Broken bones: The sternum, nose, arms, and even legs can break from impact with a steering wheel or dashboard.
Unfortunately, rear-end collisions can also cause potentially serious conditions, such as internal bleeding, traumatic brain injuries, punctured lungs, and more.
Symptoms such as abdominal pain, swelling, changes in personality or physical function, bruising, dizziness, or fainting are cause for concern following a rear-end collision.
Determining Fault in a Rear-end Collision
In rear-end collisions, it’s often assumed that the rear driver is always to blame, but that’s not always the case. There is nuance to an at-fault ruling, requiring input from:
- Police reports
- Eyewitness statements
- State traffic laws
- Factors leading to crash (broken brake lights, distracted driving, etc.)
All of these need to be taken into account to determine fault for the accident. Colorado has been an at-fault state since 2003. At-fault law requires Colorado drivers to seek compensation from the at-fault driver’s insurance company.
Most drivers involved in any type of car accident don’t know how sensitive post-accident interviews are and may inadvertently say the wrong thing to police an insurance adjuster or the other driver.
What to Do If You’re Involved in a Rear-end Collision
The first thing to do when you’re involved in a rear-end collision is to stop your car and move it off the road. This is for your safety as well as other drivers. Turn on your hazard lights, especially if you’re not able to move your car from the road.
If you’ve been injured, immediately seek medical care. Be sure to collect all paperwork related to your care and continue to do so as insurance paperwork and bills are sent.
If you are not injured or there’s someone else on the scene to help, call the police to report the accident and any injuries. While waiting for the police, make sure you collect:
- Other driver(s) contact information
- Vehicle information for all vehicles involved (VIN numbers and license plates)
- Insurance policy information from anyone involved
In addition to the essential information, jot down as many details about the accident as you can, like:
- The time and the date
- The exact location
- Weather conditions, distractions, what speed you and the other driver(s) were traveling
Besides exchanging the necessary information, don’t talk to the other driver or their insurance company. It may feel like you should apologize immediately after the accident, but if the other driver or drivers decide to sue you in the future, an apology may be seen as an admission of guilt. Ask if they’re okay and for their contact information, but otherwise, it’s best to keep quiet.
Take as many pictures of the accident scene as possible. If there are witnesses present, get their name and contact information as well. Finally, contact your insurance provider to report the accident and talk about the next steps in the process.
What If Insurance Denies My Claim?
In theory, after filing your initial insurance claim, the at-fault driver’s insurance would cover the costs to get your vehicle fixed, as well as any doctor’s visits for your injuries.
But in reality, insurance claims rarely work out that easily. An insurer may try to pay less than the compensation amount you believe you deserve, or they may fight with your own insurance company to avoid paying at all.
If you feel the insurance company is denying your claim without due cause or your injuries are extensive and are resulting in lost wages and medical bills, it may be time to call a personal injury attorney. A personal injury attorney can help you file a lawsuit or bring your case to small claims court for a solution.
How a Personal Injury Attorney Can Help
While the damage to a vehicle may be fairly easy to calculate, it’s not that easy to put a number on the physical, mental, and emotional damage a car accident has on the people involved.
In addition to physical injuries, car crash victims may deal with emotional and psychological effects as well, including depression, anxiety, insomnia, or loss of enjoyment of life. A personal injury attorney can help you receive the comprehensive compensation you deserve.
If you’ve been involved in a rear-end collision in Colorado, speak to a car accident attorney who can help you with your claim. If you’ve been involved in an accident, call Norton Frickey P.C. at 719-634-6450 for a free consultation.