Rear-End Collisions

Who is Responsible in A Rear-End Accident?

Rear-end collisions are one of the most frequent types of accidents—so frequent, in fact, that they have earned the nickname fender-benders. That name makes rear-end collisions sound harmless. In fact, rear-end collisions were responsible for more than 7 percent of fatal vehicle crashes nationwide in one recent year. Below our experienced car accident lawyers discuss important factors for the legal process around filing a rear end auto accident claim.

Responsibility for Rear-End Collisions

Rear End Collision InjuriesIn most cases, the driver at the rear is responsible for rear-end collisions. It’s common knowledge that one shouldn’t drive too close to the car ahead. Each driver must follow at a distance that will allow them to safely stop, even if they suddenly must brake.

As a rule, an adequate following-distance is one car length for every 10 miles per hour of speed. For example, if you drive at 50 miles per hour, you need to leave at least five car lengths between you and the other driver. Drivers also need to account for factors that may make it prudent to leave more space, such as heavy traffic or inclement weather.

Still, the general rule that the driver in the rear is responsible for a rear-end collision is not true 100 percent of the time. For instance, what if you’re in a parking lot and a careless driver backs up into the front of your car while you are at a stand-still? In this case, the driver backing out may bear responsibility, because they moved, and any driver backing out of a parking space should first look to see that the coast is clear.

Responsibility, in any case, will depend on who breached their duty of care. All drivers’ have a duty of care to drive safely and obey all traffic laws. Sometimes, however, it may be that no driver breached their duty of care. In some cases, factors completely other than drivers can cause rear-end collisions. For example, malfunctioning brakes can make it completely impossible to stop a car. In that case, a car manufacturer, component manufacturer, or repair shop could bear responsibility for the accident.

How to Recover Compensation for Injuries Suffered in a Rear-End Collision

You may recover compensation, or “damages,” for injuries to your person and property from a rear-end collision caused by someone else’s negligent, reckless, or intentional conduct. Normally, insurance pays compensation. What rules will apply to determine responsibility to compensate those injured in a rear-end collision depend on the state where you live.

For many people, medical bills come to mind as damages they can recover from a rear-end collision. But you may deserve compensation for other expenses and harms.

Below is a list of damages one may recover from a rear-end collision:

  • Medical and related services for ambulance transport, emergency department treatment, diagnostic tests, surgery, hospitalization, doctor’s appointments, assistive devices (such as crutches or canes), medical equipment, prescription medication, retrofitting a home for disability, and more. This may include both medical expenses incurred and expenses one is likely to incur in the future due to the wreck.
  • Lost wages for wages lost while one can’t work as they undergo treatment and recovery
  • Damage to personal property for damage to personal property, the most obvious example being the victim’s car
  • Pain and suffering for physical, mental, and emotional pain and suffering

Victims can recover these damages in a settlement with the at-fault party and their insurance carrier or via a car accident lawsuit.

Common Injuries in Rear-End Collisions

One of the most common injuries associated with rear-end collisions is whiplash, which is a neck injury caused by jolted the body forward and back. Whiplash can injure the disks between bones, ligaments, muscles, nerves, and soft tissues. Symptoms can range from mild transitory pain and stiffness to severe chronic pain and mobility issues.

Rear-end collisions often cause many other types of injuries. A more violent impact may throw occupants into a windshield or jostle one into other hard surfaces inside the car, leading to broken bones.

Potential injuries include:

  • Soft tissue injuries
  • Bruises
  • Cuts
  • Broken bones
  • Internal injuries
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Head and skull injuries
  • Amputation of limbs
  • Loss of organs, such as eyes
  • Coma
  • Death

What to Do if an Insurance Company Won’t Settle Your Claim Fairly

Gordon McKernan Rear End Accident LawyerIn the wake of an accident, injured parties may assume that the at-fault party’s insurance company will be fair in paying for damages. After all, that’s why people carry liability insurance, right?

Unfortunately, more often than not, it doesn’t work that way. Insurance companies are for-profit businesses. Their first priority is to make money, not to fairly compensate victims. To that end, insurance companies use many strategies to pay out the lowest claim possible—or even to try and deny a claim entirely.

They may try to avoid paying at all by pinning responsibility on a victim or a third-party. Or, they may try to lessen what they have to pay by mischaracterizing a victim’s injuries as minimal. A favorite tactic of insurance companies is to settle a claim quickly, but for an amount much less than the victim deserves.

Knowing the often desperate circumstances of victims trying to pay medical bills, getting back to work, and handling other stressors that arise from the wreck, insurance companies will pressure a victim to take an unreasonably low payment. Insurance companies may also delay communications with a victim, or cut off all communications, hoping the victim will tire and give up pursuing their claim.

You can level the playing field by retaining a car wreck lawyer with experience in rear-end collisions and negotiating with insurance companies. It’s best to do so as soon after the accident as you can. With a personal injury attorney representing you, the insurance company will take your claim more seriously, and you may significantly increase the amount of compensation you recover.

To learn more about our firm visit our personal injury lawyer page to learn more about the legal process regarding your auto accident claim. we also have more related blog topics such as: