Many years ago, the Ford Motor Company had a big problem with fires igniting in rear-end accidents in their Pinto vehicles. An estimated 500 people lost their lives in this vehicle in this type of crash, when the vapors from the gas tank mixed with passenger cabin air and ignited. You can read about this in articles from the time. Perhaps due to Ford's issue with gas tank explosions, as well as other manufacturer's issues with similar problems, cars are built better now. Lives that otherwise would have been lost in a simple rear-end crash, are now saved. And as an Atlanta rear-end accident lawyer, that is good news to me.
But sometimes we forget that when we are driving, we are driving a vehicle that is filled with flammable gases. And over the past weekend in Atlanta, we are reminded of the dangers of a rear-end accident. Not only can these cause many subtle injuries that do not appear for months after a crash, they also can bring on sudden tragedy.
In the rear-end crash in Atlanta over this past weekend, a woman was stopped in traffic in her Honda. A Ford rear-ended her vehicle and her car caught fire. She was removed from the car, and had only minor burns. But she did sustain critical injuries and was taken to Grady Memorial where she later passed away. Other vehicles were involved, but only minor injuries were sustained.
Rear-end crashes are something that we cannot predict or protect ourselves against. They are due to the inattentiveness of other drivers, drivers following to closely or distracted drivers. Often they occur when smaller vehicles are struck by much larger ones, like tractor-trailer rear-end collisions.
What we do not consider at times, is the danger involved in these. I have known of people in very "safe" vehicles that have been struck from behind with resulting concussion. Mild traumatic brain injuries can be debilitating.
Not only are rear-end crashes more likely when drivers tailgate, drive distracted or drive too aggressively, this activity can also call a chain reaction accident. Georgia law prohibits this activity. The Official Code of Georgia Annotated section 40-6-49 (a) prohibits drivers from following other vehicles too closely. The distance must be reasonable. It is also necessary that drivers pay attention to the speed of other vehicles and highway conditions that could impact their ability to stop.
In general, the driver that rear-ends another vehicle will be viewed as responsible for the accident. But because of the danger involved, we must try to avoid being rear-ended on the road. One way to do this is to leave sufficient room in front of our vehicle and also sufficient distance between our vehicle and the vehicle behind us to try to avoid this type of crash. It is difficult to anticipate this situation as a careful driver. It is important to remain calm, keep a consistent speed and pull over when it is safe to do so.
If you or a loved one has been in a rear-end collision, it is very crucial to take this situation seriously. Often you can be injured and not know it until much later, as soft tissue or concussion symptoms might not be obvious to you. Consulting with a lawyer experienced in this area can help. Please contact me for a free consultation regarding your rear-end collision.