Whiplash is a common injury when one car rear ends another. The head snaps forward and back, causing injury to the soft connective tissue surrounding the spine. The injury may be mild, causing pain and discomfort for a few weeks, or severe, lasting years. After a car accident, whiplash symptoms may not be immediate. After a rear end collision, it is wise to seek immediate medical attention.
Deciding Fault in Whiplash-Related Injury Cases
Most accidents causing whiplash are the result of a rear end collision. In New Jersey, the driver of the following vehicle is usually at fault. There are two key reasons for this.
The first is the law. The New Jersey driver's manual states that drivers must maintain a safe following distance and especially avoid tailgating. New Jersey Statutes Annotated 39:4-89 specifically warns operators of commercial vehicles to maintain a safe following distance. Safe is determined by road conditions and the ability of the rear driver to react to an emergency. As such, a safe distance is subject to change with each situation.
To better explain this, the second reason drivers of the rear car are held liable is because many vehicle operators do not understand the mechanics of stopping.
Traffic safety experts advise that in good conditions, a driver should put at least one car length per 10 mph between them and the vehicle they are following. This means that if traveling 60 mph, there should be six car lengths between each vehicle. If traveling in inclement weather, the space should be increased. The exact amount is up to the driver, but it should be enough to safely stop in an emergency.
Four Factors in Stopping a Vehicle
Now consider stopping. There are four factors involved in stopping a vehicle.
- Perception time
- Personal Reaction time
- Vehicle Reaction time
- Brake Capacity
When a person is alert, the average time to perceive danger is about half a second. Then, the average time to react is just under a second. Furthermore, it takes the vehicle a certain amount of time to react once the brakes are applied. This can be anywhere from a second to a few seconds, depending on the age of the vehicle, the play in the brake pedal, the quality of the brake fluid, and other often unknown mechanical factors. So, before the brakes begin to stop the vehicle, anywhere from two to six seconds can lapse.
At 62 mph, four seconds will allow the car to travel 360 feet, the length of a football field. That is the distance your car can travel before the brakes do their job under good conditions. Add ice, water on the road, distractions, or fatigue and the distance needed is far more.
Millville Personal Injury Lawyers at Rone & Kowalski, LLC Help Victims of Car Accidents
A car accident is a difficult and emotional time. Aside from the damage to your vehicle and the trauma of the experience, there are often injuries requiring time off from work, doctor visits, and pain. Whiplash-related injuries can be unbearable. At Rone & Kowalski, LLC, our Millville personal injury lawyers are dedicated to both easing your anxiety and helping you recover fair compensation for your losses and injuries. To schedule a consultation at our Milmay, New Jersey offices, simply contact us online or call 609-476-4044 x 203. We serve accident victims from Vineland, Bridgeton, Millville, Buena Vista, Maurice River Township, Upper Deerfield Township, Greenwich Township, Stow Creek Township, and Cumberland County, New Jersey.