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Filing Injury Claims After Rear-End Accidents In Iowa

A wide variety of automobile accidents occurs on roadways every day. Of these vehicle accidents, rear-end collisions are the most common. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, rear-end collisions account for approximately 29 percent of all vehicle crashes.¹ Unsurprisingly, rear-end collisions are also responsible for a significant percentage of all passenger injuries.²

If you or a family member has been the victim of a rear-end auto accident in Des Moines, trust the attorneys of Hixson & Brown, P.C. Our lawyers have decades of experience handling rear-end motor vehicle accident claims.

Determining Liability In Rear-End Collisions

Many people believe if you are involved in a rear-end collision the second or trailing vehicle is automatically at fault. Victims of rear-end collisions should be aware this is not always true. Victims should be aware offending drivers and their insurance companies may attempt to place fault, either partial or total, upon the lead vehicle. For this reason, rear-end victims should seek the advice of attorneys experienced in handling rear-end collisions.

Iowa Code Sec. 321.307 states:

“The driver of a motor vehicle shall not follow another vehicle more closely than is reasonable and prudent, having due regard for the speed of such vehicles and the traffic upon and the condition of the highway.”

This statute places a general duty upon the trailing driver to follow in a reasonable and prudent manner. Nonetheless, offending drivers and their insurance companies may attempt to rely on separate statutes that place duties upon the lead vehicle. For example, Iowa Code Sec. 321.316 requires persons to not stop or suddenly decrease speed without appropriate warning and Iowa Code Sec. 321.387 requires vehicles to have properly functioning rear lamps. Offending drivers and their insurance companies may assert you were not operating your lead vehicle in accordance with these and/or other statutes.

At Hixson & Brown, P.C., our attorneys are familiar with the various laws of the road and can assist rear-end collision victims in refuting common rear-end collision defenses.

What Are Common Injuries Suffered After A Rear-End Collision?

When a vehicle is struck from behind by a separate vehicle moving at a higher speed than the first, passengers within the lead vehicle may suffer whiplash injuries. The rear impact propels the passenger’s body forward while the head and neck remain in the initial position before an immediate whip forward by the head necessary to catch up with the body. Unfortunately, the head will often whip forward past the body as the body is ultimately restrained by seat belts. These movements happen within the blink of an eye and mimic that of a whip being cracked.

Though a common and vague phrase, the term whiplash injury most often refers to muscle and ligament sprains and strains within the neck though joints and discs may also be injured.³ When the body moves forward and the head remains in place, the neck is suddenly stretched beyond its normal range of motion. When the head propels forward beyond the body, the neck is again stretched beyond its normal range of motion. Known respectively as hyperextension and hyperflexion, these conditions frequently cause a victim to experience a variety of symptoms, to include:

  • Neck pain and stiffness
  • Headaches, often at the base of the skull
  • Dizziness
  • Blurred vision
  • Fatigue
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Memory problems
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Irritability

The extent and duration to which a rear-end collision victim will experience the above symptoms will vary dependent upon a variety of factors. Offending drivers and their insurance companies will frequently take the position whiplash injuries are minor in nature. As a result, a victim of a rear-end collision would be well-served by seeking the advice of a law firm experienced in rebuffing this position.

The severity of injury, and the level of one’s deserved compensation, is often based upon such things as collision biomechanics, age, previous injury history and future injury susceptibility.

Free Consultation — Contact Our Firm

Being the victim of a rear-end collision often means being the victim of extreme and unnatural motions that can have damaging effects on the neck. Contact our West Des Moines office at 515-644-6133 to schedule a free consultation with an Iowa rear-end accident attorney.

1 “Analyses of Rear-End Crashes and Near-Crashes in the 100-car Naturalistic Driving Study to Support Rear-Signaling Countermeasure Development”, Report No. DOT HS 810 846, NHTSA (October 2007).
2 “Driver Attributes and Rear-End Crash Involvement Propensity”, Report No. DOT HS 809 540, NHTSA (March 2003).
3 See Mayo Clinic Staff, “Whiplash”, http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/whiplash/DS01037, (Accessed 06/08/13).