Rear-end car accidents are a regular occurrence in Las Vegas. In fact, studies show that up to 37 percent of motor vehicle accidents are rear-end collisions.
As one of the most common types of car accidents, they vary from seemingly minor fender-benders to major crashes that can leave both vehicles completely totaled.
A rear-end collision takes place when the front of one car collides with the rear of another. In most cases, the driver of a vehicle that hits another from behind is considered at fault.
However, sometimes it’s not always so easy to determine fault in a rear-end collision.
Knowing what the law on rear-end car accidents is in Las Vegas can help you if you ever experience one. It’s important to understand which scenarios present issues for proving liability, so you are prepared if you are ever in this situation.
If you have already been involved in a rear-end collision, a qualified car accident attorney can look carefully at the details of your case to determine the best strategy for success.
What does Nevada law spell out for rear-end collisions in Las Vegas?
In most cases, a rear-end collision is caused by a vehicle following too closely behind a another vehicle preceding it.
Pursuant to Nevada Revised Statutes NRS 484B.127 ”Following too closely.“, literally:
1. The driver of a vehicle shall not follow another vehicle more closely than is reasonable and prudent, having due regard for the speed of such vehicles and the traffic upon and the condition of the highway. 2. The driver of any truck or combination of vehicles 80 inches or more in overall width, which is following a truck, or combination of vehicles 80 inches or more in overall width, shall, whenever conditions permit, leave a space of 500 feet so that an overtaking vehicle may enter and occupy such space without danger, but this shall not prevent a truck or combination of vehicles from overtaking and passing any vehicle or combination of vehicles. This subsection does not apply to any vehicle or combination of vehicles while moving on a highway on which there are two or more lanes available for traffic moving in the same direction. 3. Motor vehicles being driven upon any highway outside of a business district in a caravan or motorcade, whether or not towing other vehicles, shall be operated to allow sufficient space between each such vehicle or combination of vehicles so as to enable any other vehicle or combination of vehicles to enter and occupy such space without danger. 4. This section does not apply to a vehicle which is using driver-assistive platooning technology, as defined in NRS 482A.032. (Added to NRS by 1969, 1489; A 2017, 4469) — (Substituted in revision for NRS 484.307)
Definition of following too closely in Nevada
Nevada law requires a driver to leave sufficient following distance between their vehicle and the vehicle in front. The law usually finds the tailing driver responsible for a rear-end collision.
However, the tailing driver can prevail against this presumption if there is evidence showing that the tailing driver did not act negligently.
The reason the tailing driver is presumed liable is because a safe driver should provide enough space between their vehicle and the vehicle in front to stop, even suddenly, without causing a rear-end collision. Failure to stop in time, slow a vehicle for the traffic conditions, and travel within a safe distance are all examples of negligent driving.
However, in some cases, the tailing driver is not the proximate cause of a collision. For example, if the vehicle in front has brake lights that do not work, and the tailing driver has no notice that the vehicle is coming to a stop, both drivers share some portion of liability for the accident.
How do rear-end accidents occur?
Rear-end collisions can happen at stop signs, red-lights and yellow-lights at intersections, any time when traffic is slowing or coming to a stop, or while sitting in traffic.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), of the nearly six million accidents that occur each year in the United States, close to one third are rear-end collisions. These accidents impact roughly 1.7 million drivers and their passengers, resulting in injuries to as many as 500,000 people and more than 1,700 fatalities.
Rear-end accidents happen when one driver fails to apply their brakes or does not apply them fast enough in order to avoid a collision with a vehicle in front.
While road, traffic, and weather conditions may be factors, NHTSA accident investigations indicate it is generally the negligent actions of other drivers that are to blame. Common types of behaviors that can cause rear-end accidents include:
- Speeding and going too fast for conditions;
- Reckless driving behaviors, such as tailgating and improper passing;
- Aggressive driving and incidents of road rage;
- Driving under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or even prescription medications;
- Distracted driving, such as using cellphones or texting;
Drivers are responsible for maintaining control of their vehicle at all times and for avoiding driving behaviors that could put other drivers at risk.
When a driver fails to do so, he or she can be held legally liable for the damages that result.
Rear-end accidents involving multiple vehicles
Rear-end collisions may involve more than two vehicles.
For example, imagine three cars traveling one after the other. The lead car stops at a red light, the second safely stops behind the first car, and the driver of the third car fails to stop in time and rear-ends the second car. The force of this collision may be sufficient to push the second car into the first car causing another rear-end collision.
In most cases, the presumption of liability in a rear-end accident involving more than two vehicles is the same as in rear-end accident involving only two vehicles. In other words, the tailing driver is responsible.
In this example, the driver of the third car would typically be responsible for both collisions. In other words, the first driver can make a claim against the third driver, and the second driver can also make a claim against the third driver.
But not so fast! The third driver can dispute liability if there is evidence of negligence by either the first or second driver.
In some cases, the first driver can also make a claim against the second driver (not just the third), and in which cases the second driver can also dispute liability if there is evidence of negligence by the first driver.
This pattern can be extended for as many vehicles as are involved in an accident and can be amplified if passengers are involved because passengers can make their own claims.
How to prevent rear-end collisions?
You should leave enough room to stop your vehicle if the vehicle in front slows or stops suddenly. In other words, your should leave enough space for yourself allowing for reaction time to slow or stop as necessary.
You should also maintain your vehicle in operating condition including following the manufacturer’s recommended schedule of maintenance inspections of your braking system and brake lights and as necessary according to your observation of your vehicle’s operating condition.
As I have been told, “take care of your car and your car will take care of you.”
Common injuries caused by rear-end collisions
Bodily injuries sustained in rear-end accidents generally depend on a variety of factors.
Even an otherwise minor rear-end accident can do serious damage, depending on for example the victim’s age, height and weight, any preexisting conditions, and whether the victim was using a seat belt.
Details about the car itself, such as the type of bumper and the position of the headrest, also play a role in the severity of injuries, as does the distance and speed at which the cars were travelling when the rear-end collision occurred.
Rear-end collisions can result in an array of injuries, including:
- Muscle and tendon strains, sprains, and tears;
- Broken bones and multiple fractures;
- Back and neck injuries, including whiplash and fractured vertebrae or ruptured disks;
- Spine injuries, including damage to the spinal column or to the spinal cord itself; and
- Head injuries, including concussions and traumatic brain injury.
Any of the above has the potential to cause permanent disabilities that can affect your ability to work or provide for your loved ones, while costing you hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical expenses.
Whiplash is a particularly insidious injury. It is commonly sustained in rear-end accidents and often ignored or mistreated due to lack of understanding of the condition.
If you sustain a whiplash injury, it may affect your life and your ability to work to support yourself and your loved ones long after the event and potentially leading to chronic psychosocial symptoms including depression and anxiety. After an accident, you should receive a thorough diagnosis of your injuries and a complete treatment for the best chance of a full recovery.