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The rear impact collision is the most common type of automobile collision with "approximately 2.5 million rear impact collisions occurring each year." There are "six deaths per one million registered cars." Most of these accidents occur as a result of inattentiveness on the part of the rear-ending driver. One can expect these types of collisions to rise with increased use of cell phones, and other driver distraction features being added to automobiles.
In these situations, the bumper system of the front of one vehicle makes contact with the bumper system of the back of another. The rear bumper system is an important safety feature, when designed properly. Arguably, over the last two decades car companies have developed and installed increasingly less reliable rear bumpers. A quality rear bumper system should be designed to compress upon impact and absorb the force of a low impact collision. A lower quality bumper system is less absorbent and allows the brunt of the impact forces to be transferred to the occupants of the car. Did you know that car manufacturers are only required to design rear bumpers to handle a five-mile per hour rear collision? We all know that a significant number of rear impact collisions occur at much greater speeds. Unfortunately, many of today's bumpers are designed more to protect the car rather than the occupants.
In general, the law presumes the rear-ending motorist is at fault when there is a rear-end collision. The Louisiana rule of law appears in Louisiana Revised Statute 32:81(A). The rule is based on the idea that the rear-ending motorist has failed to maintain a sharp lookout and/or was following too closely to avoid the accident. A rear-ending motorist can rebut the presumption of fault in situations where the proceeding driver negligently created the hazard that the following vehicle could not avoid. For example, if a car makes an inopportune lane change and is struck in the rear, the striking vehicle may be able to overcome the presumption of fault and escape liability.
If you are a victim of a rear-end collision and make a claim for personal injuries with the insurance company for the other driver, beware! Many insurance companies will argue and try and convince you that because the vehicles sustained little or no visible damage, then the vehicle's occupants could not have been injured. This is not necessarily true. While cars are designed to handle the low speed impact forces, the human body is not.
Insurance adjusters are very astute at reducing the insurance company's exposure. Serious injuries can result from what may appear to be a minor impact. Rear-end collisions may not be so clear cut and legal representation may be needed to ensure you are treated fairly during the settlement process.
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