A rear-end collision can cause serious injuries to those involved, which can result in serious pain and discomfort. You have the right to receive fair compensation for all the financial losses and suffering that a negligent driver causes.
Some injury victims think that they can handle a rear-end injury claim on their own. They might believe that the rear-position driver is automatically at fault and assume that it will be easy to get the money they deserve from that driver’s insurance company. This is not the case in every situation, however.
It is important to consult with a car accident lawyer after any traffic crash to ensure that you fully protect and uphold your legal rights. Remember, the other driver’s insurance company is on the other side. They are actively working against you. This is why it is so important to hire your own car accident lawyer who knows how to fight for your legal rights and identify all options for compensation.
What to Do After a Rear-End Collision
It can be difficult to know what to do after the shock of being struck by another vehicle. Unfortunately, not knowing what to do can lead you to say or do something that could ultimately affect your legal right to compensation.
Take these important steps after suffering injuries in a rear-end accident:
- First, make sure that you get all of the medical attention and treatment that you need for your injuries. This is not the time to try to “tough it out” and push through pain or discomfort. Whether you feel pain right away or hours later, get checked out by a medical professional as soon as possible. This will help your prognosis and create a record of your rear-end crash-related injuries.
- Do not discuss what happened or who is at fault with the other driver or anyone involved in the crash. The insurance company can use these statements against you to limit your payment. Never apologize or admit any type of fault to insurance adjusters who contact you. It is also wise to stay off social media altogether while your injury claim is pending.
- Consult a car accident lawyer as soon as possible. The sooner you have a lawyer on your side, the better they can protect your legal rights. Your lawyer will also prevent you from saying anything that could hurt your claim to the insurance company. This is because the insurance company should not contact you about the accident once they receive notification that you have a lawyer - all communications must then go through your attorney’s office.
After a rear-end crash, stay calm and seek out both the medical and legal help that you need.
The Injuries You Can Sustain in a Rear-End Collision
There are many ways you can suffer injuries when another driver hits you from behind. Often, people assume that this type of collision is merely a “fender-bender” and is not serious, though many rear-end crash victims suffer surprisingly serious injuries.
If the force of a collision is great enough, a victim can suffer serious damage to the brain or spinal cord. This can lead to permanent disabilities, such as paralysis or the inability to speak.
When accidents occur at lower speeds with less force, injuries tend to be less serious, but they can still require medical treatment and result in losses. For example, whiplash is a very common injury in rear-end accidents. This is a strain to the neck muscles resulting from the sharp movement of the head in this type of collision. The neck cracks like a whip, and the neck structure can suffer strains as a result. This condition often requires physical therapy and can be extremely painful and cause a lot of discomfort while it lasts.
When rear-end injuries are relatively minor, insurance companies like to try to lowball the victim during settlement negotiations. The claims adjuster might say that you weren’t really in that much pain, or that a jury wouldn’t award you much money, or that your claim simply isn’t worth very much. You should never take this type of advice from someone who is on the other side. Only your own injury lawyer can tell you what your injuries are fairly worth, and they might be worth more than you imagine.
Common Causes of Rear-End Collisions
Rear-end collisions occur for many reasons.
Some of the most common include:
- Distracted driving (especially texting or using other mobile devices)
- Drunk driving
- Drugged driving
- Slick roads
- Low visibility (due to weather conditions or driving at night)
The rear position driver is often at fault for causing a rear-end collision. But this is not always the case, and it is important to be prepared to fight any attempts by the insurance company to shift the blame. You want the right attorney who can address these complex issues of legal liability.
Who is Responsible for a Rear-End Collision?
The person who was driving negligently is legally at fault for causing a car accident. In a rear-end collision, the rear position driver often negligently fails to see the car ahead and avoid collision due to distraction, or perhaps they were following too closely.
But a rear-end accident is not always 100 percent the fault of the person in the back. What if the driver in front was illegally traveling with broken tail or brake lights? This would make it more difficult to see the car and avoid a collision. In this example, if you were the rear driver, you can argue that you would have avoided the crash had the front driver had the proper working lights.
In another example, imagine that the rear driver could not stop due to faulty brakes. In this case, the auto manufacturer could be liable for the accident as a result of selling a defective vehicle. The rear driver’s insurance company could deny the claim entirely, saying that the auto manufacturer is 100 percent liable for injuries to everyone involved.
But the case could become even more complicated: what of the rear driver received a recall notice warning him of the defective brakes, but chose to drive anyway? What if the manufacturer attempted to send a recall notice, but the driver never received it? Liability in this case could fall on the driver, the manufacturer, or both.
As you can see, liability in a rear-end collision is far more complicated than simply blaming the rear position driver every time. Insurance companies train their claims adjusters to deny as many claims as possible, so hire a car accident attorney. An experienced lawyer can prove who was at fault—and what your claim is fairly worth.
Compensation You Can Seek in a Rear-End Accident Claim
So what is your claim worth? This is one of the first - and most important - questions our lawyers hear from potential clients. It is impossible to answer this question without closely reviewing the details of your specific situation.
Simply put, the value of your claim depends on the severity of your injuries.
The law entitles you to compensation for:
- All medical bills related to the accident
- Lost wages for any time you were off work due to your injuries
- Pain and suffering (including intangible losses such as the loss of enjoyment of life)
You can also seek compensation for the future losses you will suffer as a result of your injuries. This could include ongoing medical bills, in-home care, and rehabilitation services. It could also include any decreases in your earning potential.
If you can only work part-time or with limited responsibilities because of your injuries, you deserve compensation for the difference between your earnings before the accident and after it. If you lost out on employment benefits (such as health insurance or retirement contributions), you should seek compensation for these losses, as well. You should also receive compensation for the ongoing pain and suffering your injuries will cause throughout your life.
So how can your attorney prove the value of losses that have not yet occurred? Injury lawyers regularly work with expert witnesses to make accurate projections of the value of your future losses. They can project the value of your lost wages and future medical care. They can adjust lost wages for inflation, employment benefits, and other market conditions. Their reports are important tools in settlement negotiations or at trial, if necessary.
The defense also has the right to rebut these opinions with opinions from their own expert witnesses. This is why it is especially important to hire an attorney whenever you have a claim for future losses. Because these values are less certain, the insurance company is more likely to challenge them.
Property Damage in a Rear-End Collision
Property damage in a rear-end collision can be substantial. Now that backup cameras and other sensors are standard equipment on most new vehicles, even a simple bumper replacement can cost thousands of dollars.
If the rear position driver is at fault, he or she must pay for the property damage they cause. This includes all cosmetic and structural damage to your vehicle. It can also include any damage to your personal property inside the vehicle, such as a smartphone or other electronics. You should also have coverage for a rental car for however long it takes for your vehicle to receive necessary repairs. If you choose not to rent a vehicle, you might seek compensation for the loss of use of your vehicle while it is in the shop.
A property damage claim is often handled separately from a car accident claim. If, however, the insurance company is denying liability for the accident, they will not agree to pay for your repairs or rental vehicle. This is where your car accident lawyer can help. Your injury lawyer will need to prove liability to get compensation for your injuries, so this can help you get your property damage resolved, as well. Let your attorney know as soon as possible if the insurance company is giving you any trouble about repairing all the damage to your vehicle or paying for your rental car.
Rear-End Accidents Involving Trucks
The force generated in a collision will determine the severity of your injuries. This is why collisions at high rates of speed are more likely to be fatal—speed generates force in a collision. Weight can also generate more force in a collision. This is why crashes involving larger, heavier vehicles are also more likely to cause fatal injuries.
When a truck rear-ends your vehicle, your injuries will likely be more serious than if it was a smaller vehicle. More serious injuries lead to more compensation. This means that you have a greater financial stake in a serious injury case, and it is more important than ever to hire an injury lawyer to protect your legal rights.
Just how dangerous are truck accidents? The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) reports that over five thousand fatal accidents occurred in the United States in a recent year involving large trucks and buses. This was a one percent increase over the previous year.
Some experts predict a decrease in all traffic accidents when the 2020 statistics come out because of less travel during the coronavirus pandemic. But regardless of how these numbers change, what is certain is that thousands of Americans die every year in truck accidents. Hold negligent truck drivers and transportation companies accountable for the injuries and losses they cause.
Seek Help From the Best Truck Accident Lawyer Near You
When you need someone to assess your rights following a rear-end crash, you want to find the best car accident lawyer in your area. This can ensure a successful claim and maximize the compensation in your situation. Never hesitate to use online resources or recommendations from people you trust to find the legal representation that is right for you.