No matter how safely you may drive, you will undoubtedly encounter situations in which you will have to take significant evasive maneuvers to avoid a car accident. While avoiding a motor vehicle crash is virtually always preferable to a collision, there are times when the evasive action can also cause harm.
Consider what happens when you encounter a sudden hazard in the roadway. Whether the car in front of you suddenly brakes, a child darts into your lane, or an unsecured load falls onto the road, you will need to stop quickly to avoid a collision. With little time to spare you might do what most other drivers would—quickly apply your brakes.
While slamming on your brakes might help you stop a car crash from happening, it can also cause you or your passengers to suffer serious injuries. Even when performed as an evasive driving maneuver, slamming on the brakes can also cause a motor vehicle accident. The car accident lawyers at Thomas Law Offices have witnessed how injuries associated with slamming on the brakes can inhibit victims’ daily lives.
Injuries Associated With Slamming on the Brakes
Soft tissue injuries are commonly associated with being in a vehicle when the driver slams on the brakes. As the name implies, these are injuries that occur in the soft tissues in the body. Trauma that happens in the muscles, ligaments, or tendons are typically considered to be soft tissue injuries, and may include symptoms like:
- Generalized pain and soreness
In a car accident, soft tissue injuries may occur as a result of any sudden or extreme back and forth movements. A direct impact against something like the window or pressure from your seat belt may also cause a soft tissue injury.
When looking specifically at injuries—including soft tissue injuries—caused by slamming on the brakes, the following are some of the most common:
- Whiplash is a type of neck injury that occurs when your head whips violently back and forth. Although whiplash is perhaps most commonly associated with rear-end collisions, it can also occur when a driver suddenly and unexpectedly slams on the brakes. Victims may experience pain, stiffness, headaches, and other troubling symptoms.
- A concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury, or TBI. A concussion is often the result of a serious blow to the head, but can also be caused by any violent shaking of the head that causes the brain to twist, bounce, or otherwise move around and strike the skull, causing damage to brain cells. Even a mild concussion can have serious, long-term consequences, so you should always see a doctor if you experience headaches, confusion, nausea, dizziness, or any other concussion symptoms after being in a vehicle when the driver suddenly slammed on their brakes.
- Other TBIs. Concussions are far from the only type of TBI. Any time that your head is jerked around or hits an object, you could be at risk for developing a TBI. When we think of how a TBI relates to slamming on a vehicle’s brakes, it could be the result of hitting your head or simply being moved suddenly back and forth. General TBI symptoms overlap with concussion symptoms, so you should be sure to see a doctor who can correctly diagnose your condition and get you on the right course of treatment, or risk suffering more serious injuries.
- Broken bones. Seat belts saved approximately 374,276 lives between 1975 and 2017. You should always wear your seat belt every time you ride in a motor vehicle. However, it is possible to suffer seat belt-related injuries. Since seat belts are designed to stop your forward movement in situations like when a driver slams on the brakes, the pressure exerted on your body can cause broken clavicles, fractured ribs, and even cervical spine fractures. Vascular injuries can also occur when the pressure from the seat belt causes a blood vessel to puncture or tear, leading to blood loss. This does not take away from seat belts’ life-saving design, though. Having a broken bone is certainly preferable to losing your life.
You can suffer the above injuries without ever being physically involved in a car accident. If the driver in front of you stops without warning, or you are riding as a passenger in a motor vehicle and the driver slams on the brakes, the sudden resulting back and forth movements may be sufficient to cause injuries. You may need the help of a lawyer to determine liability in a personal injury claim involving these types of injuries.
Accidents Caused by Slamming on the Brakes
Rear-end collisions can easily occur when a driver in a leading vehicle slams on the brakes. When this happens, there are usually two things to consider when trying to pin down liability—why the leading driver suddenly applied the brakes and the following distance between the two vehicles.
For example, a driver who unexpectedly slammed on their brakes to avoid striking a child who ran into the road would have been trying to prevent a pedestrian collision. Although an experienced car accident lawyer would have to consider other factors (including possible distracted driving that prevented the driver from seeing the child in a timely manner), it is possible that they might not be wholly at fault.
If you consider instead a driver who slammed on their brakes as an act of aggressive driving, liability becomes much clearer. There are also unique factors in chain-reaction crashes that started or were worsened because one or more drivers suddenly applied their brakes.
Following distance is also important to consider, even in conjunction with a driver who was purposely acting recklessly or negligently by “brake checking” a rear vehicle. If you were following too closely, you could be partly liable for an accident even if the other driver behaved poorly. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration—NHTSA—suggests maintaining at least three or four seconds of distance between vehicles to ensure you have enough time to stop in the event of upcoming danger.
When driving conditions are less than ideal (including when it is raining or at night), you should lengthen the distance between vehicles to give yourself more time to stop.
Finding the Right Car Accident Lawyer
Recovering from a car accident takes time. You may also need financial help to support your recovery, including compensation that can replace your lost wages and cover your medical bills. If the accident you were injured in was caused by a driver slamming on their brakes, you need the help of an experienced attorney to accurately determine liability.
The insurance company will potentially try to contest liability, blaming you or other factors for the accident. Even if the insurer concedes liability, they may still try to push you to accept a settlement that does not fully cover the scope of your injuries.
At Thomas Law Offices, our car accident lawyers know that dealing with the insurance company on your own is never easy. When you contact us to schedule your free consultation, we’ll go over your options for filing a personal injury claim, as well as how we can handle the insurance company on your behalf.