Rear end collisions are the most common motor vehicle accidents in the United States; millions occur annually. Despite their reputation as minor fender benders, they frequently cause serious harm to occupants of both vehicles. Some are fatal.
Here is an exploration of rear end accidents, including how they happen, who causes them, the compensation due to their victims, and the role experienced car accident injury lawyers play in obtaining it.
Overview of Rear End Collisions
Rear end collisions typically occur when a vehicle fails to stop in time to prevent contact with the one in front of it. The leading vehicle may have slowed or stopped abruptly, leaving the driver of the trailing vehicle insufficient time or distance to react safely.
Numerous factors can contribute to rear end collisions. Distracted driving, which includes text messaging, changing the radio station, or interacting with passengers, is common. Speeding can reduce a trailing driver's response time, as can tailgating (following too closely).
In heavy traffic or adverse weather, drivers have much less time and distance to stop safely. Other factors are drunk, drugged, or fatigued driving and poor vehicle maintenance that limits braking power or extends stopping distances.
Common Rear End Collision Injuries
As the most common type of vehicle accident, a rear end collision can cause various injuries to both vehicles' occupants.
Common rear end accident injuries include:
- Whiplash: The hallmark injury of rear end collisions, whiplash occurs when your head rapidly jerks forward and back, causing damage to muscles and ligaments in the neck, back, and shoulders. It is most common for occupants of the leading vehicle and can lead to chronic pain, neurological disorders, headaches, and loss of motion range.
- Traumatic brain injury (TBI): The jarring impact of a rear end collision can cause occupants of either vehicle to strike their heads against the dash, steering wheel, headrest, or frame, causing brain trauma, including concussions and serious axonal injuries. TBIs can cause death or major motor, cognitive, and emotional impairments.
- Spinal cord injury: Spinal cord trauma results from the same forces that can inflict whiplash. Damage to the spinal cord interferes with bodily sensation and function, paralyzing victims and leaving them reliant on medical support.
- Crush injuries: Violent rear end collisions, where the vehicle frame collapses around occupants, can cause crush injuries. They can lead to extensive tissue damage, amputation, and other complications, such as compartment syndrome.
- Fractures and broken bones: The intense impact of a rear end collision can cause fractures and broken bones. These injuries range from minor fractures, such as a broken wrist or arm (when bracing for impact), to more complex fractures, such as pelvic or rib, requiring intensive treatment and long recovery periods.
- Internal injuries: Sudden forward movement or powerful restraint by a seat belt may cause internal injuries, including to the heart, lungs, liver, or spleen. These can be life-threatening if you do not receive prompt diagnosis and treatment.
Who Has Liability for a Rear End Collision?
Liability for a car accident typically hinges on negligence. A driver is liable if they failed to exercise reasonable care or caution behind the wheel, which resulted in a collision causing injury or property damage.
Factors courts consider when determining negligence include whether a driver was speeding, disobeying traffic signals, following too closely, or driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
In most rear end collisions, the trailing driver deserves some blame and therefore faces liability. It is a basic rule of the road that drivers should maintain the correct following distance for safely stopping when necessary. When the trailing driver fails to maintain this distance and a rear end collision occurs, they are usually liable.
This rule isn't absolute. The leading driver, or even a third party, could bear all or some liability. A leading driver could be partly to blame if their brake lights were not working or they caused the crash while reversing.
If cargo fell from a truck onto the road, forcing the leading driver to brake suddenly, the truck business or driver responsible for failing to secure that load could be at fault. An automotive manufacturer could owe damages to victims if a defective part or system contributed to the crash.
Experienced car accident attorneys recognize that it is never safe to assume that the trailing driver is the sole party at fault for a rear end accident. They review the evidence in detail to identify everyone who might be liable for causing the collision so you can pursue damages from as many individuals, businesses, or organizations as possible.
Compensation for a Rear End Collision
As an injured victim of a rear end collision, you have the legal right to seek compensation from liable parties for a range of damages.
Every rear end crash differs, but your compensation claim can seek payment for:
- Medical expenses, including costs of hospital stays, doctor visits, physical therapy, prescription medication, and any other necessary treatments.
- Loss of income due to inability to work and future earning capacity if your injuries are long-term or permanent.
- Property damage to a car or any other items in the accident.
- Physical pain from your injuries or medical treatments.
- Emotional anguish from the trauma of the crash or injuries.
- Diminished quality of life or loss of independence.
- Scarring, disfigurement, or loss of bodily function.
Where the at-fault party's behavior was reckless or egregious, courts may award punitive damages, which punish a liable party and deter others from displaying similar conduct.
In a fatal rear end collision, the surviving family members of the deceased can often pursue a wrongful death claim against the liable parties. Courts can award compensation for losing the victim's financial support, services, guidance, companionship, and consortium. They can also recompense funeral and burial expenses and other costs relating to the death.
A skilled rear end accident lawyer can evaluate your losses in a crash. They can scrutinize the evidence and determine the amount you can claim in a lawsuit or from insurance, aiming to maximize your settlement.
Your Lawyer's Role in a Rear End Collision Case
Your lawyer's primary role in a rear end collision case is to secure the maximum possible compensation for your injuries.
They can offer many crucial services, including:
- Investigating the accident to determine how it happened and who bears the blame.
- Evaluating your damages and the amount of compensation you deserve.
- Handling all communications with insurance companies.
- Answering your questions promptly and explaining your options clearly.
- Gathering evidence to support your claim.
- Preparing and filing lawsuits and insurance claims.
- Negotiating settlements when possible.
- Advising you whether to accept or reject settlement offers.
- Taking your case to trial if necessary.
Hiring an attorney for these and other services after a rear end collision is affordable. Lawyers for accident victims offer free consultations, allowing you to discuss your case, understand your legal options, and decide what steps to take.
Rear end accident attorneys typically work on a contingent fee basis, which means they only charge fees if they win your case. This makes their services affordable for anyone who needs them, regardless of financial circumstances.
Frequently Asked Questions About Rear End Collision Cases
Victims of rear end collisions often have many questions about their rights and options. Here are the answers to some of the most common queries about these cases:
Can I Seek Compensation if the Police Accident Report Says I Was Partially at Fault?
You can seek compensation even if the police accident report suggests you were partially at fault for the rear end collision. An accident report isn't the final say on liability for a crash.
A skilled lawyer can review the evidence and reach an independent conclusion about who should bear the blame for what happened. Even if your actions contributed to the incident, you could still seek compensation for your losses.
How Much Money Can I Receive for My Injuries?
No one-size-fits-all reply will answer this question, as the amount of compensation in a rear end collision case depends on the specific details of each accident.
Factors such as the seriousness of your injuries, the reduction of your earning capacity, your lawyer's skill and reputation, and the financial resources available to pay your damages come into play.
The most dependable way to learn about the compensation you can receive is to speak with a knowledgeable lawyer today.
How Long Will It Take to Receive Payment?
The time frame for receiving compensation in rear end collision cases varies. It largely depends on the complexity of the case, the ability or willingness of the at-fault party to settle, the negotiation process with insurance companies and defense lawyers, and whether the case goes to court.
Some cases resolve in a few months, while others might take a year or more. The most efficient way to resolve a rear end collision case is to hire an experienced lawyer to handle your claim as soon as possible.
Actions to Take Immediately After a Rear End Collision
The steps you take after receiving injuries in a rear end collision can have consequences for your health, well-being, and legal rights. Consider these tips to protect your interests:
Look After Yourself
Following a rear end collision, the first and most important action is to take care of yourself. Seek medical attention immediately, even if you believe your injuries are minor.
Follow your doctor's orders for the best physical and emotional recovery possible. This promotes your health and well-being and protects your legal interests by generating medical records that may become crucial evidence supporting your claim.
Do Not Accept an Insurance Settlement Offer Without Hiring a Lawyer
Insurance companies are businesses looking to minimize their expenses, and their initial offers may not adequately cover your medical costs, damage to your vehicle, lost earnings, and pain and suffering.
Before accepting any settlement offer, talk to an experienced car accident attorney who can review it, advise you on its fairness, and negotiate with the insurer to win you a better deal.
Hire a Lawyer Immediately
The sooner you hire an experienced rear end collision lawyer, the better your chances of securing full compensation for your losses.
An attorney can take prompt action to gather and preserve crucial evidence before it goes missing, meet any pending deadlines with consequences for your rights, and advise you during this difficult time.
Contact an Experienced Rear End Collision Lawyer Today
The aftermath of a rear end collision can be stressful, confusing, and painful. Your injuries and damages can be serious, and the financial burden can be enormous. With the services of a skilled lawyer, you can seek compensation from the liable parties.
If you or your loved one has recently sustained injuries in a rear end collision, do not let it derail your life. Contact an experienced personal injury lawyer for a free consultation today.