Steven A. Bagen | July 15, 2022 | Car Accidents
Rear-end accidents are the most common type of accident. Roughly one in every three car accidents is a rear-end collision. Millions of these car crashes happen throughout the country each year. Rear-end accidents can happen in traffic on the highway or when you are stationary at a red light. Rear-end crashes take you by surprise because you do not expect to be in an accident when you are stationary or traveling slowly. You do not have time to prepare or brace for the crash. Having an experienced car accident lawyer can help you understand your rights after a crash and how to proceed.
Common Crashes Can Cause Severe Injuries
However, the fact that these accidents are common doesn’t make them less dangerous. If you are the driver of the front car and another car hits you from behind, you can suffer many serious injuries. When that happens, you can file a claim or lawsuit against the driver who was responsible so you can seek financial compensation.
This seemingly clear-cut car accident case becomes much less predictable when an insurance company is involved. Getting the money you deserve always presents challenges when dealing with a self-interested business with thousands of reasons to take advantage of you. If you have suffered an injury in a rear-end car crash, you need an aggressive and experienced lawyer to protect your legal rights.
Why Rear-End Car Accidents Happen More Frequently These Days
The number of rear-end car accidents is increasing throughout the country.
Many poor driving habits raise the risk of rear-end car accidents are getting worse these days, including:
- Reckless driving can occur when motorists travel too close to the car in front of them and will hit them when the front vehicle applies the brakes. Tailgating is a primary cause of rear-end crashes.
- Distracted driving causes drivers to not see a car in front of them that is either stopped or traveling more slowly. Just taking eyes off the road for a second to read a text can mean the difference between stopping and not stopping in time.
- Speeding means the difference in how fast the two drivers go. Drivers who speed have lowered reflexes and less time to stop when there is a hazard or car in front of them.
In addition, drivers may not slow down enough to account for hazardous conditions on the road. If a driver sees a sign for a work zone, they should automatically expect that cars will be stopped or going slower in front of them. Instead, many motorists do not exercise any caution and continue to speed while approaching work zones, raising the risk of a rear-end crash.
Drivers may also not adjust their speed in rain and inclement weather. The speed limit is the maximum speed that drivers should travel. Even traveling at the speed limit can be unreasonable if the road is slippery.
Whiplash Is a Serious Injury Not to Be Overlooked
The most frequent type of rear-end car accident injury is whiplash. The injury gets its name from the fact that your neck makes the motion of a whip when your head pitches forward. When you are not moving or traveling slower than the car behind you, the physics of the crash means that your head will snap forward.
This one instant can significantly impact you physically, both in the short and long run.
Whiplash can cause:
- Neck pain
- Difficulty moving the neck
- Back pain
- Brain injury
- Shoulder pain
- Loss of range of motion in the neck
None of these injuries are minor. Many of them can linger for days or months after an accident, making it more difficult for you to work or enjoy your pre-accident daily life.
Whiplash Can Cause a Traumatic Brain Injury
One thing people usually do not associate with whiplash is a traumatic brain injury. When the head snaps forward, the brain can hit against the skull. Accident victims can suffer anything from a concussion to a permanent TBI.
A concussion will impose severe physical and medical costs, even when the accident victim can fully recover from it. Other TBI victims can suffer permanent brain damage and will never be the same again. All this happens when the brain moves inside your head. The brain may never recover from the impact.
Determining Liability in a Rear-End Car Crash
If you are driving in the front car and another car hits yours, liability will not be as much of an issue in a rear-end case. It is a well-settled principle of personal injury cases that the car that hits the front car is almost always the one that is legally responsible. Unless certain uncommon circumstances apply, you should have less of a hard time proving your entitlement to damages.
Never underestimate what the insurance company has the capability of doing in response to your claim. They are looking for any way possible to try to save themselves some money. Even if liability seems clear-cut and established, they may shift blame to you to save them some money. You may need to defend your actions before the crash so you can protect your settlement check.
The insurance company trains its adjusters to discount a claim of whiplash. Although they know how severe whiplash can be, the adjuster is looking for any excuse possible to save their employer money. The adjuster knows that an insurance company can sit back and take a “prove it” attitude because the burden of proof is on you to prove your damages, even after you have shown entitlement.
What to Do After a Rear-End Accident Injury
After you have suffered an injury in a rear-end accident, you should:
- See a doctor as soon as possible
- Contact an experienced attorney at your first possible opportunity
Rear-end car crash injury symptoms often have a delayed onset. In some cases, whiplash symptoms may appear at the accident scene. In other cases, they can take days or weeks to begin to impact you. Delayed onset of symptoms does not mean that you are not injured. In fact, your injury can get worse because a doctor is not treating it. Even if you think you are okay, see a doctor to rule out any hidden injuries.
Since whiplash primarily involves neck and back injuries, the longer you wait, the more likely the insurance company is to dispute your injury itself. They may claim that you either had a pre-existing condition or something else injured you, meaning that their policyholder did not cause your injuries.
You cannot begin the claims process until you know the extent of your injuries and damages. Your doctor’s diagnosis is the first step in valuing your case. Then, you will know how much treatment you need and have an idea of your recovery process.
Contact an Experienced Rear-End Car Accident Lawyer
You will also need a lawyer as soon as possible. When liability for the accident is more apparent, the insurance company may move into damage control mode. In other words, they will use tricks to reduce their liability, knowing they need to write a check. Their tactics can include pressuring you to accept a low settlement offer. The sooner you get an attorney working for you, the less risk you have of the insurance company bull rushing or bamboozling you.
When You Can Hold the Front Driver Responsible for the Accident
If you are the car that strikes the one in front of you, there will likely be an uphill battle to get financial compensation after a rear-end car accident. However, it is not impossible.
You may show that the car in front of you caused the accident by:
- Stopping short in front of you
- Cutting you off
- Going unreasonably slow in traffic
- Making an illegal lane change
- Driving recklessly or erratically
- The front car backed out into you
Nonetheless, you will need to find a lawyer toll take your case. Not every lawyer will want to accept a case if it was a long shot for you to win because it means they have long odds of getting paid. You should still call a car accident lawyer and tell your story. There is still a chance that you can show that the front driver was more to blame than you, which will enable you to recover some financial compensation or some form of settlement.
Product Liability Lawsuits for Rear-End Car Crashes
In addition, you can get compensation when you hit the car in front of you. If the brakes on your car failed, you can file a product liability lawsuit against the company that made the car or the brakes. You will need to prove that the brakes were defective, not that you failed to maintain the brakes. Product liability lawsuits are complex cases, but they can result in significant financial compensation.
Hire an Experienced Attorney to Maximize Your Settlement or Award
Even if proving liability in a rear-end car accident case is not as much of an issue, you will still need legal help. When you negotiate compensation, a wide range of outcomes can result.
There is nothing that stops an insurance company from trying to settle a $100,000 claim for $10,000. For them, this is just good business. They like to see what they can get away with and then take full advantage of their superior knowledge. Your goal should be to get every dollar you can, and you have a far better chance of that with an experienced attorney on your side.
Your damages in a rear-end car accident case can be in dispute. Whiplash injuries do not always show up on an MRI or CT scan. Although you may be in pain and discomfort, the insurance company will deny or minimize it because that is their route to saving money. They will not give you any benefit of the doubt when it means that it costs them money. You have the legal obligation to prove your damages to be paid for them.
Damages in a Rear-End Car Accident Case
In a rear-end car accident case, you can seek:
- Medical bills
- Lost wages (for time missed from work or any reduction in the work that you can do)
- Property damage to your vehicle
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of enjoyment of life
There is plenty of room for disagreement over rear-end car accident damages. For example, the insurance company will almost certainly try to minimize your pain and suffering. They will attempt to characterize your pain as “just a backache.” For you, persistent back pain is debilitating and will rob you of the quality of your life. An experienced car accident lawyer will tell your story.
Then, your lawyer will negotiate with the insurance company. The insurance company does not decide your compensation. They make an offer, and you choose whether to accept it. Turning down their proposal does not mean the end of your legal rights. It does mean that you can make a settlement offer of your own or file a lawsuit in court.
Never make any assumptions or leave anything to chance after a rear-end car accident. Even if you think your injuries are minor, you can still receive financial compensation. While you can choose to represent yourself in an injury claim, it is likely a bad idea. The insurance company will make every effort to try to pay you as little as they can.
On top of this, the legal system is complicated. Always talk to an attorney after the accident to understand your legal situation and options.