Rear End Accidents

There were 2,346 fatal rear end collisions in the U.S. in 2019, says the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). (1) Rear end collisions resulted in 2,900 deaths, states the National Safety Council. (2) If you were involved in a rear end accident, a lawsuit could provide compensation for your injuries.
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Additionally, rear end collisions were 7.2% of all fatal U.S. crashes and 32.3% of total crashes, indicates a 2019 crash data report by the NHTSA. (3)

A closer look at New York collision rates reveals the problem for New Yorkers.

New York Collision Rates

Federal database records indicate 964 people died on New York roadways in 2018-19. (4)

The state’s own crash data indicates a serious injuries rate of 11,712 in 2019, up from 10,996 in 2018. (5)

Likewise, New York City (NYC) has its share of increasing traffic deaths. NYC saw 175 traffic deaths in 2018, 188 in 2019, and 200 in 2020, according to the nonprofit Transportation Alternatives. (6)

Causes of Rear End Accidents

Just as with many accidents, a lot of rear end collisions are preventable. Understanding what causes rear end accidents is one step in the right direction.

As is true for many motor vehicle accidents, driver behavior is a significant factor in rear end accidents. Common causes of rear end accidents include:

  • Distraction: Over 3,000 drivers involved in fatal crashes in 2019 were distracted according to NHTSA data, reports the Insurance Information Institute (III). These distractions included talking, eating, use of cell phones, and texting while driving. (7) New York State reports 500 fatal and personal injury crashes involved cell phone use in 2019. (8)
  • Driver fatigue: There were 1,250 drivers involved in fatal crashes in 2019 who experienced fatigue. This fatigue includes falling asleep at the wheel, feeling drowsy, suffering illness, and blacking out. (9)
  • Speeding: Almost 8,750 drivers were in fatal crashes in 2019 due to driving too fast for conditions, going over posted speed limits, or racing during the crash. (10)
  • Tailgating: “Tailgating is a contributing factor in more than one-third of all crashes on the road,” the driving education platform says, citing a statistic from the TeenSafe driver monitoring app. (11)
  • Weather: Adverse weather conditions are a contributing factor in many crashes. On average, weather was a factor in 21% of vehicle crashes between 2007 and 2019. (12)

If you've been seriously injured in a rear end accident, please contact us today to discuss your legal options.

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Potential Injuries

Injuries in rear end accidents can be very serious. They can range from broken bones to traumatic brain injuries to spinal injuries, and even death.

Here are a few of the serious injuries rear end accident victims can suffer:

  • Death — The New York City Police Department’s citywide collision report for one month notes 764 vehicles involved in fatal collisions were “following too closely.” (13)
  • Spinal Injury — Vehicle crashes are a leading cause of these, accounting for 38.2% of spinal injuries since 2015. (14)
  • Traumatic brain injury (TBI) — Motor vehicle crashes are one of the most common causes of TBIs, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (15) Motor vehicle accidents accounted for 25% of all TBI-related hospitalizations in one year. (16)
  • Whiplash and neck injuries — Rear end collisions result in 85% of neck injuries sustained during car accidents. (17) “Whiplash is a neck injury due to forceful, rapid back-and-forth movement of the neck, like the cracking of a whip.” (18)
  • Lacerations — Lacerations are skin wounds caused by blunt trauma where none of the skin is missing. Treatment can include stitches. (19) Lacerations can be made more serious by infection. One study found, “Lacerations located on the head or neck were less likely to become infected compared with lacerations on the torso or an extremity… Contamination or tissue trauma requiring debridement was also associated with an increased risk of infection.” (20)
  • Broken bones, fractures — “Back and spine fractures. These are fairly common in both head-on and rear-end collisions as the body is impacted by the seatbelt or airbag.” (21) Other common fractures sustained in car accidents include rib, sternum, and clavicle fractures; cranial and facial fractures; broken legs, and hand and wrist fractures. These fractures are due to the “way the force of a car accident impacts the body.” (22)


No matter the injuries, determining liability depends upon the accident circumstances. Usually, the driver of a car who hits another car is to blame for a rear-end accident.

Typically, the car behind hits the car in front because the driver did something wrong — got distracted, was following too closely, or was speeding. It may even be some combination of these.

But there is more to it than that, legally.

Often, these cases fall under negligence. Negligence is a legal concept applied to a person who fails to behave with the “same level of care” as someone with sound judgement would have, given similar circumstances. (23)

Negligence Causes Accidents

For example, let’s say you are stopped at a red light. A car behind you fails to stop and slams into you. An investigation reveals the teenaged driver was texting at the time of the accident.

If you were hurt in such an accident, you may be entitled to damages due to negligence. You must show the court the teenaged driver’s texting while driving created a situation where an accident was a foreseeable outcome. And your injuries were a direct result of the accident. (24)

A successful negligence case usually requires the services of an experienced attorney, like the legal team at Weitz & Luxenberg.

Injured in a rear end accident? Contact us for a free consultation today.

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How W&L Can Help

W&L has years of success with auto accidents and other personal injury cases. Our attorneys have helped thousands of clients recover large sums. Look at these cases:

  • A hit-and-run car accident left our client paralyzed from the chest down. The verdict was $20.5 million plus another $3 million for past and future medical expenses.
  • Our client, a 75-year-old pedestrian, was struck by an ambulance on the streets of Manhattan. The settlement was $1.4 million.
  • A 41-year-old laborer lost part of his leg after being struck by a hi-lo. It was negligently driven by a co-worker in a work area with inadequate barriers. The verdict was $2.96 million for our client.

  1. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. (2021, August). Traffic Safety Facts 2019. Retrieved from
  2. National Safety Council. (n.d.). Type of Crash. Retrieved from
  3. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. (2021, August). Traffic Safety Facts 2019. Retrieved from
  4. Insurance Information Institute. (n.d.). Facts + Statistics: Highway safety. Retrieved from
  5. New York State Department of Motor Vehicles. (2020, December). New York State FFY 2020 Highway Safety Annual Report. Retrieved from
  6. Transportation Alternatives. (2020, October 22). New York City Eclipses 200 Traffic Deaths in 2020. Retrieved from
  7. Insurance Information Institute. (n.d.). Facts + Statistics: Highway safety. Retrieved from
  8. New York State Department of Motor Vehicles. (2020, December). New York State FFY 2020 Highway Safety Annual Report. Retrieved from
  9. Insurance Information Institute. (n.d.). Facts + Statistics: Highway safety. Retrieved from
  10. Ibid.
  11. Driving Tests. (n.d.). The Ultimate List of Driving Statistics for 2021. Retrieved from
  12. U.S. Department of Transportation. Federal Highway Administration. (2020, February 20). How Do Weather Events Impact Roads? Retrieved from
  13. Police Department. City of New York. (2021, September). Motor Vehicle Collision Report Statistics Citywide. Retrieved from
  14. National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center. (2021). Spinal Cord Injury. Facts and Figures at a Glance. Retrieved from
  15. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2021, May 12). Traumatic Brain Injury & Concussion. Get the Facts About TBI. Retrieved from
  16. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2016/2017). Surveillance Report. Traumatic Brain Injury-related Hospitalizations and Deaths by Age Group, Sex, and Mechanism of Injury. Retrieved from
  17. Erbulut, D.U. (2014). Biomechanics of neck injuries resulting from rear-end vehicle collisions. Retrieved from
  18. Mayo Clinic. (2020, February 5). Whiplash. Retrieved from
  19. Johns Hopkins Medicine. (n.d.). Health. Lacerations. Retrieved from
  20. Quinn, J.V., et al. (2013, January 12). Traumatic lacerations: what are the risks for infection and has the ‘golden period’ of laceration care disappeared? Retrieved from
  21. IMCbonedoc. (2020, December 15). Common bone fractures sustained during a car accident. Retrieved from
  22. Ibid.
  23. Cornell Law School. Legal Information Institute. (n.d.). Negligence. Retrieved from
  24. Ibid.

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