The Terrifying Consequences of Tailgating Rear End Collisions


    For the average American driver, following the rules of the road is an assumed responsibility when operating their motor vehicle. However, tailgating is a negligent driving behavior that can cause serious injuries and have serious implications for personal injury litigation in the event of an accident. There are numerous reasons why a driver tailgates another vehicle, and there are even more potential injuries that can result from rear end collisions due to tailgating.

    After a brief review of the definitions and statistics surrounding tailgating, this article aims to provide readers with information on how accident victims can recover compensation for injuries they have suffered due to another driver’s negligent tailgating behavior.

    Tailgating Accident Statistics

    According to data reported by the insurance company resource website Insurify, about 14 out of every 10,000 drivers have a prior citation for tailgating.  In addition, approximately one third of all auto accidents are rear-end accidents. There is no one particular region of the United States that is especially impacted by rear-end crashes, with each state accounting for a relatively similar proportion of accidents logged as rear-end collisions.

    Tailgating Defined

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    Although every driver may have their own preconceived notion of what it means to tailgate, the specifics of state laws differ to a certain degree. Officially referred to as “following too closely” in many states including Illinois, tailgating often encompasses either driving behind another vehicle more closely than is “reasonable and prudent” given the current driving conditions or failing to leave enough space between the front of your vehicle so that another vehicle can enter the space safely.

    When either of these scenarios occurs, the risk for injury due to an accident increases significantly. In the next section, common causes of tailgating accidents will be presented in greater detail.

    Common Causes of Rear-end Car Accidents

    When it comes to the type of car accidents involving tailgating and following too closely, the tailing driver’s negligence is often the primary culprit. This negligence can manifest in many different ways with respect to tailgating. Common causes of rear-end collisions include:

    • Being inpatient or in a rush. When drivers are in a hurry to get to their destination, they tend to tailgate other drivers and generally act in a more negligent manner while on the road. This dangerous mindset causes many vehicle accidents and is the perfect example for why drivers need to keep a safe distance from other cars, no matter what they’re feeling or what appointment they’re late to.
    • Driving while distracted. When rear drivers are distracted by their phones, car infotainment systems, other passengers, or other events happening outside the vehicle, they may inadvertently begin following the lead driver in front of them too closely, leading to a rear end collision.
    • Making improper lane changes/cutting off another driver. One of the clearest signs of driver negligence is when a driver cuts off another car. This forced entry can lead to a rear end collision and cause serious injury to multiple parties who may not be aware of or expecting a sudden lane change.
    • Road rage. When a driver suffers from road rage, it can lead to impulsive and unsafe driving behavior. Road rage is explosive anger caused by inconveniences and incidents that occur while driving, and is often wielded in a retaliatory manner. When an angry driver tailgates another out of retaliation for a perceived offense, accidents can occur.
    • Congested traffic conditions. When traffic is backed up, it can create road conditions just as volatile and dangerous as severe weather conditions, making drivers more likely to tailgate. These conditions can often trigger incidences of road rage as well, leading to an exponentially greater risk of tailgating-related incidents.
    • Driver fatigue. When a driver is suffering from lack of sleep while behind the wheel, their inhibitions and executive functioning are greatly impaired. This can be especially dangerous for drivers of large vehicles such as semi-trucks. When drivers are tired, it is their responsibility to pull over and obtain adequate rest before getting back on the road.
    • Impaired driving. In a similar vein as driving while fatigued, drivers who are under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol will suffer from impaired decision-making and perceptual skills necessary for following the rules of the road safely. These impairments are greatly magnified while driving at night, and compounded further if they suffer from road rage.

    Often, multiple risk factors for tailgating operate in tandem in a given situation. In a rear end car crash, it can result in a number of different types of injuries to victims. A review of some of the most common rear end collision injuries will be covered in the following section.

    Common Injuries From Rear End Tailgating Collisions

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    Car accident cases that result from rear end collisions often cause severe injuries to drivers. The nature of the injuries incurred is dependent on a multitude of factors including the speed of the vehicle and the relative size of both vehicles involved in the accident. Common car accident injuries reported after a rear end tailgating collision include:

    • Neck injuries. Whiplash is a neck injury caused by the forceful, rapid back-and-forth movement of the neck, akin to the cracking of a whip. Cervical herniated discs can also occur, wherein the discs of the upper spine are compressed or otherwise impacted from the trauma of the accident.
    • Spinal cord and back injuries. Much like neck injuries, the sudden back and forth impact of a rear and collision can cause trauma to the spinal cord and back of drivers and passengers. The deployment of airbags can further impact the severity of these injuries. At the very least, these types of injuries can cause chronic back pain for years to come.
    • Broken bones. A number of locations on the body can be impacted with serious force due to a rear end collision, causing bones to break. Whether the body is colliding with the steering wheel, the door of the car, or something else, the risk of breaking a bone increases in incidents where the rear-ended vehicle is thrust into another vehicle or object.
    • Chest injuries. When a person’s seatbelt is not properly secured during a rear end collision, it can result in compression and trauma to the ribcage, sternum, and general chest region.
    • Internal organ damage. Sometimes referred to as “seat belt syndrome,” rear end collision victims can suffer internal organ damage due to the force of compression from the seat belt around the abdomen area of the driver or passengers.

    In many instances, more than one type of personal injury is incurred by a driver and any passengers that become the victim of a rear end collision due to tailgating. In order for accident victims and their car accident lawyer to be successful in litigation, it must be evident that the tailgater was behaving in a negligent manner. The role of negligence and how personal injury attorneys prove negligence will be covered in the following section.

    Proving Negligence in Personal Injury Litigation

    When a driver suffers personal injury as a result of a rear end collision due to tailgating, they are likely going to want to understand their options for pursuing legal action in order to recover compensation for any damages caused by the at fault driver.

    To successfully recover compensation, a plaintiff and their personal injury lawyer must be able to prove to the courts that the tailgating driver was acting in a negligent manner in the events leading to the accident. For example, if the other motorist was caught on a rear-facing dashboard camera in the moments before the collision, the plaintiff’s car accident attorney can use this as strong evidence that tailgating was the primary cause of the accident and subsequent injuries.

    Getting Professional Legal Counsel in Oak Brook

    When someone is involved in a rear end collision, it can be a traumatic and disorienting experience. Pursuing litigation for damages can be next to impossible without the support of experienced local personal injury attorneys.

    For years, the attorneys at the law firm of Palermo Law Group have been helping car accident victims in Oak Brook and throughout Chicagoland as they navigate the process of recovering compensation for injuries incurred due to another driver’s negligence. Contact Palermo Law Group today for a free consultation.



    Mario Palermo is the Founder and Lead Attorney at Palermo Law Group in Oak Brook, Illinois. For the past 26 years, he has worked tirelessly to help injury victims and their families in their times of need. He is a seasoned authority on civil litigation, and also a member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum, a prestigious group of trial lawyers who have won million and multi-million dollar verdicts and settlements. Mr. Palermo has been named a “Leading Lawyer” by his peers in 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021 and 2022.

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