Every driver should do their best to minimize their risk of causing an accident in Colorado. Auto accidents occur for many reasons, and some of the most common include distraction, speeding, and aggressive maneuvers. When drivers cause accidents, they become liable for any damages they cause others, and some accidents can be devastating. Rear-end collisions are some of the most common motor vehicle accidents in Colorado, and these incidents occur when one vehicle slams into the rear of another vehicle.
A driver can prevent rear-end collisions by leaving sufficient space between their vehicle and the vehicle in front of them. However, it can be challenging to gauge how much space should remain between vehicles. Leaving too much can result in a disrupted traffic flow, especially if the trailing vehicle is driving slower than the posted speed limit. On the other hand, leaving too little space can easily result in an accident. If the leading vehicle slows down or stops and the trailing vehicle can’t react in time, it will cause a rear-end collision.
The “three-second rule” is a common tactic used by drivers to ensure they leave enough space between their vehicles and the vehicles driving in front of them. The rule is quite simple: As the vehicle in front of you passes a sign or other roadside landmark, count the seconds it takes your vehicle to reach the same landmark. If it takes at least three seconds, you are following the three-second rule and should have enough space in front of you to react in time if the leading vehicle slows or stops suddenly.
A common variation of the three-second rule is to leave at least three seconds between your vehicle and the vehicle in front of you but to add a second for every10 mph over 30 mph. For example, if you are driving at 30 mph, you should follow the three-second rule. At 40 mph, you should leave four seconds of space and five seconds at 50 mph. When vehicles drive at higher speeds, they need more time and space to slow down and stop to avoid rear-end collisions. Leaving yourself some extra space can be critical in preventing serious accidents, especially at higher speeds.
Every driver has a duty of care to prevent their vehicle from crashing into a vehicle driving in front of them. Unfortunately, liability for a rear-end collision almost always falls to the driver in the rear who slams into the back of the vehicle in front of them. Because no matter what the leading driver may do, the trailing driver has a responsibility to ensure they have enough time and space to slow down or stop to avoid a collision. The three-second rule can help accomplish this, but attentive driving is even more critical.
Determining fault for a rear-end collision is not always straightforward. In some cases, the leading driver may also bear some liability for this type of accident. For example, all motor vehicles have red brake lights on the vehicle’s rear that illuminate when the driver depresses the brake pedal. This indicates to drivers behind them that they are slowing down or stopping. This is an essential visual indicator, so it’s crucial to pay close attention when a driver in front of you suddenly illuminates their brake lights. However, if a driver fails to address a mechanical issue with their brake lights, or if their brake lights fail and do not have them fixed promptly, this can easily result in a rear-end collision for which the leading driver will bear partial liability.
If another driver hit your vehicle from behind because they were following too closely or negligent in another way, they are responsible for the resulting damages. The first step toward recovering your damages is usually an insurance claim, but there is no guarantee the at-fault driver’s auto insurance will fully cover your losses. You can file a civil claim to recover your remaining damages if it does not.
Any car accident can be devastating, and rear-end collisions commonly cause injuries, including whiplash, a soft tissue injury to the shoulders, neck, and back caused by crash impact forces whipping the spine back and forth. Rear-end collisions may also cause broken bones and traumatic brain injuries.
The three-second rule may not be appropriate when driving at lower speeds, typically below 25 mph. Drivers should use their best judgment when leaving space between their vehicles and other drivers’ vehicles. Above 25 mph, it’s generally best to leave at least three seconds of space between your vehicle and the vehicle in front of you.
Rear-end collisions in traffic can easily result in chain reactions. If a driver behind you hits you and sends your vehicle into the car in front of you, it is possible to absorb some liability for the accident if you were too close to the vehicle in front of you. However, if you were stopped at a red light and another driver hit you from behind, sending you into the vehicle in front of you, the driver who hit you would be liable for your damages as well as the damages of the driver in front of you.
Rear-end collisions can be disastrous, and your damages from this type of accident may include not only extensive vehicle repairs but also painful injuries. An experienced car accident attorney is a valuable resource when you have suffered losses from a rear-end collision someone else caused. If you have recently experienced this type of accident, it’s a good idea to consult an experienced lawyer as soon as possible before speaking with insurance carriers. Contact Cheney, Galluzzi & Howard today to schedule a consultation and learn more about the legal services we can provide for a rear-end collision case.