According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), approximately 29 percent of all car accidents are rear end collisions. The NHTSA reports that these accidents are the most common type of car crash and result in a substantial number of injuries and fatalities each year. One of the most dangerous aspects of rear-end collisions is that the driver of the vehicle in front does not usually anticipate an impending collision. Therefore, they do not have an opportunity to take protective measures, such as bracing for impact.
This brings us to the science behind rear-end collisions. The faster a car rear-ends a victim, the more traumatic the injury. However, researchers have found that injuries can result even at very low speeds. The potential severity of an injury largely depends on the mechanism of injury, which we explain below.
What Is a Mechanism of Injury?
Mechanism of injury refers to the method by which trauma occurs to the body. Mechanism of injury helps inform triage guidelines and treatment decisions for people who have suffered rear end collision injuries, impact trauma, multi-system trauma, and other injuries.
Mechanism of injury evaluations involve kinematics and biomechanics. Kinematics refers to the potential or actual injuries the body incurs. Biomechanics refers to the actual force or impact experienced by the body. Ultimately, the mechanism of injury helps to determine how and at what level energy was transferred from the environment to the human body. The intensity of the energy transfer will help determine how serious the injuries may be and what the subsequent patterns of damage will be, based on the impact.
What Factors Are Involved in Determining Mechanism of Injury?
Various factors can affect the mechanism of injury. One primary factor is the type of accident. Each accident has its own inertia, force, mass, speed, and g-force (the acceleration imposed by earth’s gravity.) These physics can greatly influence the mechanism and severity of injury.
Additionally, the mechanism of injury is not the same for each person. The victim’s physical condition can have a significant impact on the mechanism of injury. Some factors that may impact the mechanism of injury include:
- Co-morbidities – Various health conditions can impact the mechanism of injury. A person with heart disease may not be able to compensate for shock. Liver or kidney disease can cause thinner blood that does not clot as well.
- Age – Younger, healthier adults may be better able to sustain an injury than an older adult or child. Skin gets more delicate and bones become more brittle as people age.
- Pre-existing injury – If a person has a pre-existing injury and is impacted in the same body part, the subsequent injury may be more severe because the body part is more vulnerable than an intact one that has never sustained injury.
- Alcohol and drugs – Alcohol makes the blood thinner and less likely to clot. Various illegal or prescribed drugs can have various physical effects on the body.
What Is an Impact Sequence?
The term impact sequence refers to the consecutive impacts that occur during an injury. For example, in a rear-end collision, the occupants in the front vehicle are usually launched forward at the initial point of impact. The next impact occurs when the vehicle comes to an abrupt stop. The body might collide with a fixed object in the car, such as the dashboard, steering wheel, or windshield. The final impact occurs when the internal organs and tissues collide with body cavities.
Injuries that Can Occur in a Rear-End Collision
Rear-end collisions, even at low speeds, can result in serious injuries, such as:
- Flexion and extension injuries – Researchers have concluded that rear-end collisions increase the risk of flexion and extension injuries.
- Spine injuries – Rear-end impact can also cause chance fractures of the spine. Research has shown that these collisions can cause cervical spine injuries, which can result in significant and long-term disability.
- Neck injuries – Neck injuries occur in rear-end accidents because the head accelerates after the vehicle has been hit and then snaps back.
How Holliday Karatinos Can Help You After a Rear End Collision
If you were injured in a rear-end accident, Holliday Karatinos is here to help. Our Lutz & Brooksville car accident lawyers have over 50 years of collective experience fighting for the rights of accident victims. We have successfully recovered more than $125 million for our clients. Contact us today for your free consultation with an experienced rear-end car accident attorney.
Holliday Karatinos Law Firm, PLLC is an accident injury law firm that offers top quality legal representation in personal injury matters, with offices located in Lutz and Brooksville, Florida. Our Spring Hill lawyers are dedicated Florida courtroom advocates for injured people.