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What to Know About Rear-End Collisions in Des Moines


Were you involved in a rear-end collision in Des Moines? If so, you are certainly not alone. Rear-end accidents are the most common type of multi-vehicle crash in the United States. According to data put together by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 29 percent of all automotive accidents in the U.S. are rear-end collisions. Navigating the claims process after a bad rear-end crash can be challenging. Within this article, our Des Moines car accident attorney highlights the key points that you should know about rear-end collision claims in Iowa. 

The Most Common Causes of Rear-End Collisions

Rear-end crashes are relatively common in Des Moines. Around half of all car accidents are multi-vehicle collisions—and around half of those multi-vehicle collisions are rear-end crashes. Rear-end collisions can happen for a wide array of different reasons. Some of the leading causes of rear-end collisions that are reported in Des Moines County include: 

  • Speeding: Speeding is exceptionally dangerous. A driver who is above the speed limit has far less time to react to sudden stops or changes in traffic flow. It increases the risk of a rear-end collision. Notably, when motorists travel at high speeds, they also require more distance to stop safely. Speeding is one of the top causes of rear-end crashes in Des Moines. 
  • Distracted Driving: All drivers have a duty to keep their full focus and attention on the road. Serious hazards can arise at any time. The lack of focus delays reaction time. It could be the difference between a safe stop and a bad rear-end collision. Notably, cell phones are one of the most dangerous forms of distracted driving. Many rear-end collisions in Des Moines are caused by motorists who are texting while driving. 
  • Tailgating (Following Too Closely): Tailgating is a common cause of rear-end collisions because it does not allow sufficient space for safe stopping. Following another vehicle too closely reduces the time available to react to sudden stops, making collisions more likely when traffic flow is interrupted. Drivers should always maintain a safe following distance. 
  • Unexpected Stops: In some cases, drivers must stop suddenly due to obstacles, accidents, or erratic behavior of other road users. These unexpected stops can catch following drivers off guard, particularly if they are not maintaining a proper lookout or if they are distracted. To mitigate the risk of rear-end collisions, it is essential for drivers to remain alert. 
  • Malfunctioning Brake Lights: Not all rear-end collisions are the fault of the second driver (rear driver). If brake lights are malfunctioning or completely out, trailing drivers may not realize the vehicle ahead is stopping or slowing down, leading to a rear-end collision. Drivers should be aware of their vehicle’s condition and ensure that lights are operational.

Understanding Liability for a Rear-End Collision in Iowa

Who is responsible for a rear-end collision in Des Moines? The answer depends on the specific circumstances of the case, including the how and why the accident happened. In Iowa, motor vehicle accident liability is based on fault. The rear driver is often—but not automatically—legally responsible for the crash. Every accident should be thoroughly investigated by an experienced Des Moines rear-end collision attorney. Fault for a crash is based on negligence. 

  • Negligence is the failure to take due care. A driver is negligent if he or she does not take the proper safety precautions. 

Under Iowa law (I.C.A. § 668.3(1)(b)), a modified comparative negligence standard applies to all types of crashes, including rear-end collisions. In effect, this means that multiple parties may share liability for the same rear-end collision in Des Moines. When that happens, each party is legally responsible for their “share” of the blame for the crash. However, if a driver is found to be at fault for 51 percent (or more) of a crash, he or she is barred from recovery through a personal injury claim. 

A Two-Year Statute of Limitations for Auto Accident Claims in Iowa

Be proactive after a bad accident. Under Iowa law (Iowa Code § 614.1(2)), most car accident claims—including rear-end collision cases—are subject to a two-year statute of limitations. Only limited exceptions apply to the rule. If you were injured in a crash, it is crucial that you bring your claim in a timely manner. You do not want to fall behind an insurance company in the legal process. They will start building their legal defense right away after an accident. Consult with a Des Moines car crash lawyer right away after a major rear-end collision. 

Recovering Compensation After a Rear-End Crash in Des Moines

Injured in a rear-end collision in Des Moines? You have the right to seek financial compensation for the full value of your damages, including tangible and intangible losses. Unfortunately, auto insurance companies can make it very challenging for injured victims to get a full and fair settlement. Our Des Moines car crash attorneys go above and beyond to help injured victims seek the absolute maximum compensation. Rear-end crash victims may be able to recover for: 

  • Property loss, including automobile repairs; 
  • Ambulance costs and emergency medical care; 
  • Hospital bills and other medical costs; 
  • Physical therapy and rehabilitative care; 
  • Loss of income and loss of earning power;
  • Pain and suffering & mental anguish; 
  • Disability or disfigurement; 
  • Reduced quality of life; and
  • Wrongful death of a family member. 

Set Up Your Free Case Review With Our Top-Rated Des Moines Auto Accident Lawyer


At Ball, Kirk & Holm, P.C., our Des Moines car crash lawyer has the skills and experience to take on the full range of cases, including rear-end collisions. If you or your family member was hurt in a rear-end accident, our firm is here as a resource that you can trust. We are always ready to come directly to you after a serious accident. Contact us today for no cost, no commitment initial case review. Our firm handles rear-end collision cases in Des Moines, Des Moines County, and beyond.