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WPI 70.04 Duty of Following Driver

A rear-end car accident is a motor vehicle accident in which a vehicle hits the car or truck in front of it. These types of accidents are often caused by “tailgating” which is when a vehicle is following too closely to the vehicle in front and does not leave enough distance to allow for a sudden stop. Nearly one third of rear-end collisions are caused by following too closely or tailgating. Sometimes this can happen when a driver is text messaging, talking on a cell phone or otherwise distracted.

Washington state statute WPI 70.04 prescribes the “Duty of the Following Driver”and provides that a driver shall not follow another vehicle more closely than is reasonable and prudent, having due regard for the speed of the vehicles and the traffic upon and the condition of the street or highway.

When one vehicle is following another vehicle, the primary duty of avoiding a collision rests upon the following driver. The following driver is negligent if his or her vehicle runs into the car ahead, in the absence of an emergency. The following driver is not necessarily excused, even in the event of an emergency. It is the duty of the following driver to keep such distance and maintain such observation of the car ahead as may be required by reasonably foreseeable traffic conditions to make an emergency stop.

A rear end collision is like running into a wall and can cause serious injuries such as whiplash. Whiplash is a non-medical term which describes a cervical acceleration-decelearation injury. A whiplash injury is a strain or sprain to the neck when the head is thrown forward and backward rapidly.  Symptoms of a whiplash injury can include headaches, pains to the neck, head and shoulders and pins and needle tingling to the arms. Other symptoms can include blurred vision and loss of concentration. Whiplash injuries do not usually appear on X-rays and often require a CAT scan or MRI to detect.

Another more serious injury caused by a rear-end car accident is a disc herniation.  A spinal disc herniation is a spinal condition caused by trauma and can result in injury to the spine and nerves. Symptoms include severe back pain that does not let up, weakness, numbness, tingling and even paralysis.

If you were rear-ended in a car accident

The driver in the rear car is usually considered the at-fault driver for not paying close attention or leaving enough room. If the rear-end driver was cited by police, this can help establish fault and the driver and his or her insurance company could be responsible for the damages to your car, your medical costs and for pain and suffering.

If your accident was a multi-car collision in which the car behind you was hit by a third car which pushed the car behind you into you, the third car driver may be responsible. This type of accident often happens when cars are stopped at a red light and when a following vehicle fails to stop at the red light.

With the help of The Farber Law Group, a Washington law firm experienced and knowledgeable in handling auto accident cases, you may be able to recover the full amount of your damages. Please contact us for more information and to schedule a free consultation.

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