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Rear-End Car Wrecks And Maryland Personal Injury Law

On February 6, 2014, two individuals were stopped on Kit Kat Road in Howard County, Maryland while waiting to make a left hand turn. A freightliner rear-ended a Volkswagen and pushed it into another vehicle. The Volkswagen was struck with such force that the driver of the Volkswagen later died from injuries sustained as a result of the collision. This example of outrageous carelessness must be extremely sad for the surviving relatives of the deceased.

While death resulting from a motor vehicle collision is not a common occurrence, rear-end car collisions are fairly common across the United States and they frequently result in injuries to the involved parties. Injured parties should be aware of the law but may wish to consult with a lawyer to determine their specific legal rights.

Generally, in a Maryland accident, when a motor vehicle is stopped and that vehicle is suddenly struck from behind, a presumption arises that the rear ending vehicle’s operator was negligent. Andrade v. Housein, 147 Md. App. 617 (2002). This presumption can be rebutted by additional evidence, (Such as the vehicle was not stopped; it stopped suddenly; it changed lanes abruptly, etc.) however, if the case is litigated, a judge or jury may be permitted to infer negligence on the part of the rear ending vehicle’s operator due to the presumption of negligence.

A rear-end collision or rear-end crash occurs when the front of one vehicle strikes the back of another. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) reports that one-third of all automobile crashes are rear-end collisions. Even though many rear-end collisions occur at low speeds, rear-end collisions can cause significant personal injuries. Common injuries that result from a rear-end collision include neck and back injuries, whiplash, injuries to the face or head, and injuries from an airbag or seat belt.

Rear-end collisions can present complex legal issues, particularly because Maryland law allows a defense of contributory negligence. If you have been injured in a rear-end collision, a accident lawyer who is experienced in rear-end collision lawsuits will be able to help you assess whether you have a potential claim under Maryland personal injury law.

What are the Causes of Rear-End Collisions?

Conventional wisdom held that most rear-end collisions occurred as a result of a driver following too closely behind another vehicle. Of course, this is still a cause of rear-end collisions. However,more recent studies by the NTSB have shown that in 90 percent of rear-end collisions, drivers had the time to physically stop but failed to do so because they were not paying visual attention to what was happening in front of them. Rear-end collisions can be caused by any one of or a combination of the following factors:

  • Weather conditions – Weather conditions like rain or snow can cause slippery roads. When a road is slippery, a driver may not be able to brake in time to avoid a stop or slowed car in front.
  • Speed – The faster a car is going, the longer it takes it to come to a complete stop. Higher speeds require increased following distance and increased focus on the roadway.
  • Following too closely (tailgating) – Allowing less than 2 seconds between yourself and the vehicle in front of you can give you insufficient time to react if they apply the brakes.
  • Not paying attention – If a driver is texting, adjusting the music, eating, or otherwise not paying attention, they may not notice if the car in front of them has slowed or stopped.
  • Driving under the influence (DUI) – Drugs, including alcohol, can slow reaction time and contribute to rear-end collisions.
  • Unsafe lane changes – When a car changes lanes abruptly, it can cause a chain reaction for the cars behind it.

Maryland Personal Injury Law and Rear-End Collisions

A driver whose vehicle is hit from the rear may be able to sue to recover damages in the event they are injured. Typically in a vehicle accident, the injured driver (the plaintiff) must be able to prove that the other driver was negligent. However, when the collision is a rear-end collision, there is a presumption in Maryland that the rear driver was negligent. A presumption allows a court to assume that a particular fact is true in the absence of evidence to the contrary.

The driver who is being sued may raise as a defense that the plaintiff was contributorily negligent. Maryland is one of just four states that follow the law of contributory negligence. If a plaintiff contributed to the accident at all by being negligent, he or she will not be able to recover damages. Actions that could support a finding contributory negligence include if the plaintiff:

  • cut off the other driver;
  • was acting with road rage;
  • had a vehicle malfunction (for example, if the brake lights on the plaintiff’s car were not working);
  • backed into the other vehicle; or

If the plaintiff’s stopped vehicle was disabled and they did not use flares or put on their emergency flashers.

Liability Determinations after Rear End Accident Not Always Clear

Rear-end collisions be the result of a direct impact between two vehicles or in more complex accident cases, they may result from “chain reaction,” collisions. A chain reaction collision is caused when a vehicle is impacted and pushed into another vehicle. When a chain reaction is caused by a tractor trailer or a larger truck, (or a vehicle traveling at high velocity) the force of the impact may be sufficient to spread through multiple vehicles and can result in numerous injuries. In cases like the one from Howard County, described above, it can result in an unfortunate fatality.

Typically, the more vehicles there are involved in a chain reaction collision, the more complex a legal case can become. This is simply because it is becomes impossible or impracticable to “pin” all the liability on one negligent party when several cars collide simultaneously and their operators have conflicting stories of what happened. For example, one driver may claim he was rear ended or pushed into another vehicle, and another driver may instead claim a vehicle in front of him collided first, resulting in a sudden stop which then could not be avoided. The combinations are endless, and if you don’t believe me, take a look at this.

Camera Captures Highway 41/45 Pileup Resulting in Highway Shutdown

In multiple car collisions, police officers take witness statements but seldom interview parties as to the number and sequence of impacts each felt in order to properly determine how the accident was caused. In order to determine liability in a case involving these types of chain reaction accidents, a thorough accident investigation is an absolute must. In some cases, especially those involving fatalities, an accident reconstruction expert may need to be consulted to examine the number and sequence of impacts, the velocity of the involved vehicles, the resulting amount and location of various property damage and so forth, in order to make a determination as to the cause of the accident.

See Our Related Blog Posts

Tips for Sharing the Road with Other Drivers

Maryland Personal Injury Lawsuits and the Admissibility of Immigration Status

Top 10 Winter Weather Driving Tips


If you have been injured in a rear end collision through no fault of your own, and would like a free consultation with one of our experienced lawyers or to have your case evaluated, call us today at 1-888-540-2599 or send us a message here

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Kelly Kess Malone
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Very helpful paralegals and attorney assistants. Also informative on various types of cases. Reasonably priced for the work that they provide.
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Had a very awesome experience fast settlements... Communication was a A+ ...Strongly recommend Mr.Katz. !!! Ms. Robin made me felt like family was always there when i needed her and when i had a question.
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Ashley Poole
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Attorney Bob Katz and his staff are highly recommend. Customer Service was impeccable. Every phone call and email was responded to in a timely manner. Natalie Ulrich was very professional, helpful and thorough every step of the way, which resulted in a stress free experience. I will recommend this law firm to family and friends!
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Customer service was A+. All questions were answered promptly and information was shared appropriately. Concerns were addressed and I was made aware of all updates on my case. I would whole heartedly recommend this firm.
edward Robinson
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I highly recommend Mr. Katz and his staff. They were friendly, compassionate and really showed they had their clients best interest at heart. There was never a time you called them they didn't respond or returned your calls and answer your questions.They took the worry, and stress and turn it into reassurance. They were diligent and just down right professional. My wife and I really thank God for allowing us to cross paths on a professional business experience. Ms. Rebecca Slatery is the most courteous, compassionate soul. We wish you all peace, love and blessings. Thank you for your service.
20:11 31 Oct 18
I decided to use this firm again for an accident I was involved in. As always they were professional and caring. Rebecca slattery was the paralegal assigned to my case and she was professional and kept me up to date with everything. I would recommend this firm to friends and family!
Cedric Jones
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Erica Z is amazing with keeping you to date and staying communication with you during the entire process. Meghan Young was a wonderful lawyer made me feel extremely comfortable in the courtroom and she also fights for the best possible outcome for you..GREAT LAW FIRM
Nguyen Le
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It was a great experience being taken care of by Rebecca Slattery and Meghan Young, they helped me resolve my case and were very courteous and professional. Highly recommend working with this law firm
Soun Gil
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21:35 17 Oct 18
Ms. Park helped me out through my whole accident process. She took her time with me and made sure I understood everything. I would recommend to her all of my friends if they were to get into any accident.
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15:40 12 Oct 18
I highly recommend. My family’s experience with this office was great. Christina Franetovich was very helpful throughout the whole process, which made this experience less stressful. She responded to my questions immediately and made sure that I understood everything.
Claudette Pope
Claudette Pope
13:18 30 Aug 18
I was referred to Gordon & feindblatt in 2014 when my family was in an accident, Mr. Katz personally consulted with me by phone and he was very polite and professional, Mr. Carpuso, one of the litigation attorneys even came out to our home and went over our case with us, he made sure all of our needs was addressed and before he left our home that day I felt like we were old friends. that case was settled and I was very pleased, I have used this law firm twice since then and the results are always the same, I have nothing but great experiences with Gordon & Feindblatt the staff are courteous and professional and they get the job done but the one in particular that really stood out for me is Rebecca Slattery, she is truly a gem, she is so compassionate, she walked me through the entire process, she even checked up on me from time to time just to see how I was feeling and I really appreciated her kindness. I will use this law firm again and again for any future legal issue that may arise and I would highly recommend Gordon & Fiendblatt to friends, family and co-workers.
02:32 04 Aug 18
The lawyer who was initially handling my case parted ways with the company and I was assigned a new lawyer. This new lawyer was amazing! Christina Franetovich made me feel secure by double checking all the facts and notes in my case so that I was not worried during this transition. I was on disability from an a different accident while she was finalizing my case, and I had called and hounded her about the time frame of my settlement very frequently to the point that I felt guilty for calling so much. Christina was very sympathetic to my situation and assured me that she would do everything in her power to make sure the situation would be resolved quickly. She actually finalized my case before the time frame she had given me, was always very courteous and knowledgable on the phone, and I feel extremely lucky that she ended up handling my case because the previous lawyer was not as amazing with customer service as Christina. She also has a way of making you feel comfortable and builds incredible rapport quickly. I am going to highly recommend her to my friends and family. Thank you Christina!!!
Richard Hose
Richard Hose
02:26 27 Jun 18
On Feb 23, 2017 I was in a bad accident on the JFX. I had been rear end by another driver. Almost immediately I felt pressured by the other drivers insurance. Everything from wanting a recorded statement; to failing to acknowledge responsibility. No one would answer my questions, nor would anyone take responsibility. I was frustrated and overwhelmed with everyone from the towing company, to the repair shop, to the insurance company nightmare I just entered. I reached out to Attorney Robert Katz and I was assured they were here to help. He provided with some much needed information, and told me not to worry, Sarah his Paralegal would be in touch to help get things moving. Sarah reached out as expected and explained their process and walked me through what my expectations would be. She as well assured me they were here to help me navigate the obstacles. What Sarah really did was so much more than help. She took the stress and burden off my shoulders and assumed ownership for handling everything on my behalf. I knew what to expect, and I received regular updates throughout the entire process. Honestly, I received so much more than I anticipated. Some of the most frustrating items to chase after are medical records and hospital charges. While I was trying to recall events and timelines, she had already obtained my records and information. She made this process so painless. I truly cannot say enough about the exceptional service she provided. Many thanks for all your help. Sincerely, Richard Hose
Andrea Barajas
Andrea Barajas
15:13 16 May 18
My husband and I were in a car accident in August 2017. We contacted Bob Katz team for legal representation in our case. Kristen A. Turner was our paralegal and she was excellent. It took 9 months for us to receive our settlement and Kristen kept us updated throughout this entire process. She was very kind and patient as I happened to have several questions. She always answered my questions promptly and thoroughly. I would highly recommend this firm and Kristen if you are in need of legal assistance.
15:24 09 Feb 18
My experience here was great. My lawyer Rebecca was so professional and I love her personality. She handled my case well and kept me updated and made the process easy and always made me feel comfortable to call whenever I needed to know anything.
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