Car Accidents: The Dangers of Tailgating

When motorists follow other vehicles too closely, they risk causing rear-end accidents. Even at relatively low speeds, a rear-end collision may cause serious injuries such as whiplash, head trauma, back and spine injuries, and more.

A red, sporty, motorcycle moves between the lane, dangerously close to cars.

Drivers who tailgate may not have enough time to react if the vehicle in front of them suddenly slows down or comes to a stop. Tailgating is a dangerous type of aggressive driving behavior. It may stem from a driver’s impatience, distraction, or carelessness. On high-speed California highways, rear-end accidents may result in chain-reaction collisions involving multiple vehicles, multiple victims, and extensive property damage.

If you are the victim of a tailgating accident in Newport Beach caused by another driver, you may be entitled to claim compensation to cover the cost of your medical bills, lost earnings, vehicle damage, and pain and suffering.

Sam & Ash, LLP is focused on providing you with personalized legal service throughout your recovery. Our dedicated Newport Beach tailgating accident attorneys have the experience and resources to investigate your accident, gather evidence to support your claim, and demand the compensation you need to rebuild your life. At Sam & Ash, LLP, our injury lawyers are dedicated to pursuing What’s Right for you. Contact us today for a free case review.

Understanding Tailgating

Tailgating occurs when a motorist follows another motorist too closely and fails to leave adequate space to stop safely. Tailgating is considered an aggressive driving behavior.

The California Driver Handbook says drivers should leave three seconds of distance between their vehicle and the vehicle in front. Motorists are expected to leave enough space so that they have time to react and safely slow down or stop if the vehicle ahead stops suddenly.

Tractor-trailers and other heavy trucks need more space than passenger vehicles to stop safely. A large truck traveling at 55 miles per hour needs roughly 800 feet — almost twice the distance needed by an automobile — to stop safely, according to the California Driver Handbook. In commercial truck accidents involving tailgating, the truck driver often cannot stop in time and collides with the vehicle in front.

Penalties for Following Too Closely in California

two cars tailgating

Following another vehicle too closely is an infraction in the California Vehicle Code. A tailgating citation can be costly. An infraction may result in a civil fine and court costs as well as points against the driver’s license.

In addition, the at-fault driver may be held financially liable for the injuries caused to others as a result of tailgating.

A driver or passenger who is injured may file a claim against the at-fault driver’s liability insurance and, if necessary, file a personal injury lawsuit to demand justice. The attorneys at Sam & Ash will focus on seeking What’s Right for you. Driven by our determination to help injured people who turn to us for legal help, we have recovered more than $400 million for clients in California and Nevada.

The Dangers of Following Too Closely

Tailgating is a dangerous practice. Crashes caused by tailgating can cause terrible injuries and sometimes result in fatalities, too. Some injuries sustained due to tailgating may leave permanent disabilities, such as paralysis stemming from spinal damage.

A tailgating accident on a high-speed freeway or interstate may lead to a chain reaction of multiple rear-end collisions and multiple drivers injured.

If multiple vehicles are involved and several people have serious injuries, the accident will involve a number of insurance companies and potentially hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages.

The safest thing a motorist can do is maintain a safe distance between themselves and the vehicle in front of them to avoid a tailgating accident.

Why Do People Engage in Tailgating?

Some of the most common reasons drivers follow other cars too closely include:

  • The driver is rushing – Drivers who are in a hurry to get somewhere may follow other vehicles too closely, mistakenly believing that this will somehow help them get to their destination more quickly.
  • Impatience – If a driver believes that the driver in front is moving too slowly, the driver may engage in various types of aggressive driving including honking, gesturing, and tailgating. This commonly happens when slower drivers are driving in the fast lane. As a faster-moving vehicle approaches from behind, it may tailgate the vehicle in front in an attempt to get the slower driver to move over.
  • Preventing lane cutters – Some drivers follow other vehicles closely because they wish to keep other motorists from cutting in line.
  • Road Rage – Road rage happens when a driver is angry about something. It may have nothing to do with the vehicle in front of them, but they choose to take it out on that driver for some reason. Maybe another driver cut them off. If you notice a driver displaying signs of road rage, do your best to avoid them and avoid a confrontation. Some enraged drivers can be dangerous. It’s not worth engaging with them if it can be helped.

Common Injuries from Tailgating Accidents

Every tailgating accident is unique, but some of the most common injuries that occur in these types of accidents include:

  • Whiplash – Whiplash is a common injury in rear-end accidents. The injury results from the victim’s head being violently thrown back and forth when their vehicle is hit from behind. Whiplash is a soft-tissue injury that occurs when muscles, ligaments, and tendons in the neck extend beyond their normal range of motion. Whiplash can cause pain and neck stiffness. The symptoms of whiplash may not be apparent immediately after a collision. That is why it is vital to get checked out by a medical professional after an accident occurs. Prompt treatment may help prevent or minimize chronic pain and lasting lack of mobility in the shoulder and neck area.woman driving a car and looking at watch
  • Herniated discs – A herniated disc involves damage to one of the rough rubbery discs that cushion the vertebrae. The discs have a tough exterior and a soft, jellylike center. When a disc is torn or ruptured, some of the disc’s soft center may push out of the casing, putting pressure on spinal nerves and causing pain and weakness.
  • Traumatic brain injuries – Traumatic brain injuries, or TBIs, can take a variety of forms, from minor concussions to life-threatening brain bleeds. TBIs are often the result of blunt force trauma to the head. When a motorist is rear-ended, they may bang their head against the steering wheel or window, which could cause a TBI. Minor concussions usually require overnight monitoring, but subdural and epidural hematomas can cause alarming symptoms such as dizziness, vomiting, confusion, lack of coordination, severe headaches, seizures, and more. TBIs can cause problems with memory, personality, and other basic brain functions.
  • Spinal cord injuries – Spinal cord injuries can range from minor pinched nerves to severe injuries, such as a compressed spinal cord. If the spine is severed during a collision, it can lead to paralysis. Paralysis may occur in the legs and pelvis if the spinal cord injury occurs in the lower back. Paralysis can occur in the torso and all four limbs if the injury occurs in the upper back and/or neck area.
  • Internal injuries – Internal injuries often result from blunt force trauma to the body. If a motorist is thrust against their steering wheel in a rear-end collision, he or she may sustain blunt force trauma to the abdominal area, which could cause the liver or spleen to rupture. If a person’s ribs are broken during a collision, a rib can even puncture a person’s lungs. Internal injuries can be life-threatening, but they may not always be apparent right after an accident. A medical professional may be able to detect signs of injuries that are not apparent to the accident victim.
  • Broken and fractured bones – Broken and fractured bones are common injuries in tailgating accidents, oftentimes requiring extensive surgeries and long recovery periods.
  • Soft-tissue injuries – As with whiplash, other soft-tissue injuries involve muscles, ligaments, and/or tendons pulling or tearing resulting from a collision. These injuries can cause pain, swelling, joint instability, and limited range of motion, among other symptoms.
  • Leg and hip injuries – When motorists lock their legs to brace for the coming impact, they may inadvertently cause an injury to occur. Sprained ankles, strained knees, and jammed hips are just a few types of leg and hip injuries that can occur.
  • Seat belt syndrome – Seat belts can save your life and should always be utilized, but they can also sometimes cause injuries in rear-end collisions. Seat belt syndrome may cause seat belt marks around the lower abdominal area, as well as bowel perforations and lumbar spine fractures.

Contact a Car Accident Attorney for Help

If you have been injured in a tailgating accident, you may be entitled to pursue compensation to cover your medical costs, lost earnings, damage to your vehicle, and pain and suffering.

The Newport Beach car accident attorneys at Sam & Ash, LLP have the knowledge and resources needed to investigate your case, gather evidence to support your claim, determine liability, and negotiate assertively for a settlement with the at-fault driver’s insurance company. If the insurance company refuses to agree to a fair settlement cannot, our skilled Newport Beach trial attorneys will be ready to file a personal injury lawsuit on your behalf and fight your case out in court.

We’re ready to help you get started. Contact our firm today for a free case review.