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Vehicle Accidents

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Injuries From Being Rear-Ended

Medical literature suggests that 85 percent of all neck injuries seen clinically result from automobile crashes, and of those due to such collisions, 85 percent result from rear-end impacts. Rear-end impacts of as little as 5 mph can give rise to significant symptoms. The dynamic and vehicle factors that contribute to rear-end collision injury are:

  • The weight of the vehicles involved
  • The speed differential
  • The location of impact
  • The direction of impact
  • Seat failure
  • Seat back angle

Roughly 10 percent of occupants of stricken vehicles in rear-end automobile collisions will develop whiplash syndrome. Ten to 15 percent of patients suffering from cervical soft tissue injuries following motor vehicle accidents fail to achieve a functional recovery.

Research states that an 8 mph rear-end collision may result in a two g force acceleration of the impacted vehicle and a five g force acceleration acting on the occupant’s head within 250 seconds of impact. (One g equals an acceleration of approximately 32 feet per second.) Car crashes happen in literally one or two eye blinks.

At the San Francisco law office of Walkup, Melodia, Kelly & Schoenberger, we understand how traumatic a rear-end car accident can be. For more than 50 years, our lawyers have been helping injured people and their families achieve financial recovery so they can move forward with their lives.

We invite you to review the results we’ve achieved for past clients who have been hurt in rear-end car accidents and other motor vehicle accidents. Then, call us at (415) 981-7210 to schedule a free consultation.

Head And Neck Injuries Caused By California Car Accidents

It is wrong to assume that maximum neck injury occurs only in a high-speed collision; it is the slow or moderate collision that causes maximum hyperextension of the cervical spine.

Rear-end accidents cause distinctly different types of injuries than head-on or sideswipe collisions. By far the most common injury in a rear-end car accident is so-called “whiplash,” a stretching or tearing of the neck muscles, ligaments and adjacent soft tissue as a result of high-speed flexion and extension of the neck and back. Your doctor may refer to the injury as a cervical sprain, cervical strain or hyperextension injury (the neck tissue has extended beyond its normal range).

A neck injury can significantly impair your quality of life. It can cause intense pain, limited motion, sleeplessness and anxiety. Disk injury may produce pain radiating down the arms, muscle spasms and difficulty moving your head from side to side. You may suffer headaches and have difficulty working and driving.

While most whiplash victims may recover within six weeks, 40 percent of all victims still experience symptoms after three months. One in five people still have symptoms two years after a rear-end car crash.

Representative Rear-End Accident Settlements

Rear-End Accident Causing Brain Damage — $1.25 Million Settlement

Our auto liability lawyers obtained a settlement of $1.25 million on behalf of a 64-year-old man who was rear-ended in Mountain View in a multivehicle accident on Highway 101. He initially experienced headaches and neck pain. A few months later, he developed slurred speech, foot drop, and weakness in his arm and leg. His treating neurologist first thought he was exaggerating his complaints. Several months later, he was diagnosed with subdural hematomas confirmed by brain MRI. He underwent surgery to evacuate the bleeds and was forced to retire from his position as a software engineer. The defense argued that there was no causal connection between the accident and the plaintiff’s head injury. He did not strike his head during the accident and his was not the first car struck in the low-speed collision.

Rear-End Collision — $431,000 Jury Verdict

Our car accident trial lawyers obtained a $431,000 jury verdict against the Salvation Army when a Salvation Army truck rear-ended the subcompact driven by our client, a world-renowned surgeon. The impact caused “whiplash” injuries to our client’s neck and upper back.

While this might be a mild to moderate injury for many people, our client used the muscles in her neck to support a large operating device she wore on her head to guide a laser scalpel during micro-surgeries. She was one of only a handful of surgeons in the entire world qualified to perform these procedures. She worked with chronic pain because of her accident-related soft tissue neck injuries. The jury’s award was more than three times the size of the defendant’s last settlement offer prior to trial.

Rear-End Collision — Neck Injuries — $400,000 Settlement

Our automobile accident liability attorneys brought suit on behalf of a 70-year-old woman who suffered neck injuries in a low-speed, rear-end collision and resolved the case for $400,000 prior to trial. Our client had a history of neck and back problems prior to the accident and was forced to undergo a three-level cervical fusion two months after the accident. The driver of the car that hit her settled for his policy limits of $100,000. Walkup lawyers then pursued a claim against our client’s own insurance carrier under the underinsured motorist provisions of her policy. The insurer argued that our client’s need for neck surgery was caused by her pre–existing degenerative spine disease and was unrelated to the accident. The insurer ultimately agreed to pay an additional $300,000 after we presented an analysis of the medical evidence demonstrating that the accident was a substantial factor in causing the client’s need for surgery.

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