Rear-End Shunt Accidents

What Is a Rear-End Shunt Collision?

A rear-end shunt collision is one where a vehicle strikes another from behind and forces (or "shunts") the other vehicle forward, potentially causing a chain of collisions between multiple vehicles. This chain effect is sometimes called a "concertina” or “accordion” collision because of the tendency for the vehicles caught in the middle of the chain to crumple at the ends like the bellows of an accordion. These accidents occur from a number of causes, such as a poorly maintained brakes or tail lights, distracted driving, tailgating, intoxicated driving, or, in extreme cases, road rage.

Motorcyclists are particularly vulnerable to these type of accidents, either because of a driver following too closely or because the driver did not notice the motorcycle. When a motorcyclist goes unnoticed by drivers who are following them, there is a greater danger of serious injuries in rear-end shunt collisions.

Common Injuries and Damages

Rear-end shunt accidents commonly result in soft-tissue injuries to the back, and whiplash injuries, where the neck moves suddenly forward and then back. In a whiplash injury, the neck’s muscles, tendons, and ligaments can be hyperextended beyond their normal range of motion. This can lead to short-term pain or numbness, or long-lasting chronic symptoms. If the force of the collision is severe, a whiplash motion can even cause a concussion from the impact of the brain against the inside of the skull. Such an injury can cause weeks, months, or years of chronic fatigue, nausea, sensitivity to light, and disruption in cognitive abilities.

For a motorcyclist, there are additional possible injuries in rear-end shunt accidents. Often a rider will be thrown from his or her motorcycle, or may be run over by another vehicle. Thus, spinal and head injuries can be more severe, and fractures of limbs are much more frequent than in rear-end shunt collisions between automobiles. These injuries can be significant and permanent, requiring years of difficult and expensive physical therapy.

Liability in Rear-End Shunt Collisions in California

In California, there is a legal doctrine known as "comparative negligence." This means the jury will determine whether one or both parties were at fault, and to what degree each party’s conduct contributed to the accident. The plaintiff can still recover, but their damage award will be reduced by the percentage of fault that the jury assigns to them.

Suppose there are three vehicles coming up to a stoplight in this order: a truck, a motorcycle, and a car. The light turns from yellow to red as the truck stops safely at the line. The motorcyclist, guessing that the truck driver was going to go through the yellow light, fails to stop in time and hits the rear of the truck, falling to the ground. The driver of the car was checking a text message, and did not notice that the motorcyclist had collided with the truck, and runs into the fallen rider. A jury could determine that the truck driver had no fault, the motorcyclist was 30% to blame, and the driver of the car was 70% liable. The motorcyclist could recover, but his total damage award will be reduced by the amount the jury decided he was to blame, or 30% less than he would have received without any fault of his own.

Contact a Knowledgeable Motorcycle Accident Attorney Today

Accidents like these can result in significant pain, missed time at work, and years of physical therapy. If you are a motorcyclist who has suffered an injury or loss because of a rear-end shunt collision, you should contact Jamal Injury Law for a free consultation. Call us today at 714-907-1021 to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation.