Rear-end accidents are one of the most common types of car accidents. It’s estimated that around 1.7 million occur in the United States each year – which makes up nearly 30 percent of all car crashes. Being involved in a rear-end accident is scary, as the consequences can be more damaging than they initially seem.
Rear-end car accidents are commonly referred to as “fender benders”. While this term doesn’t sound very serious, many victims end up with lasting injuries. The good news is the law almost always sides with the victim in these scenarios. However, earning justice is more difficult than many assume.
In this post, we discuss the ins and outs of rear-end accidents – and what the path looks like to earn fair compensation for damages. Let’s dive into it.
What Happens When You’re involved in a Rear-End Car Accident?
A rear-end accident occurs when a vehicle is struck from behind by another vehicle – or the “rear end” of the vehicle gets hit. These accidents commonly occur in three different scenarios.
One – The front driver is stopped. The driver behind them didn’t stop quickly enough and rolled into the back bumper at a low speed.
Two – The front vehicle is completely stopped and the rear vehicle collides while traveling at a high speed.
Three – The rear vehicle is traveling faster than the front vehicle and a collision occurs while both are in motion.
The first scenario is the most common, and the damages are rarely life-threatening. The second and third scenarios can be extremely dangerous.
What Causes Rear-End Accidents
Rear-end accidents can be caused by many different factors. Some of the most common ones include:
Many rear-end accidents happen when the roads are covered in ice, snow, or water and the rear driver cannot stop their vehicle in time.
Some incidents occur when the rear driver takes their eyes off the road and doesn’t give themselves enough time to adequately stop. This can involve looking at their phone, tinkering with the stereo, eating, reaching for something in the backseat, etc.
Driving under the influence
Driving under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol is known to impair vision and reaction times. This can impact the driver’s depth perception and ability to stop in time.
Like driving under the influence, fatigued driving can slow reaction times and cause the driver to zone out.
Road rage commonly results in the rear driver tailgating too close, speeding, or driving erratically. These aggressive behaviors can easily result in a rear-end accident.
What Are the Common Car Accident Rear-End Injuries?
Perhaps the most dangerous aspect of rear-end accidents is that most come as a complete surprise to the victim. Since most victims do not have time to brace, even low-impact accidents can have serious consequences.
Many car accident rear-end injuries are caused by whiplash, which can lead to:
Neck and back injuries
Neck and other spinal cord injuries are extremely common in rear-end accidents – due to whiplash. Both low and high-impact crashes can result in strains on soft tissue and tendons. Victims will notice pain, limited movement, stiffness, and more. However, most of these injuries take time to feel the symptoms. Victims need to get checked out by medical staff after the accident, whether they are feeling pain or not.
Traumatic Brain injuries
Whiplash can sometimes lead to concussions in a rear-end accident. Or, the victim’s head can collide with the window or back of the seat. In some cases, a strong jolt from the impact can be enough to cause a brain injury. These injuries can have lasting physical and mental effects.
It’s very, very important to get checked for a concussion after a rear-end accident – even if it only felt like a slight bump.
Broken bones and lacerations
There is a lot of potential for broken bones and lacerations in a rear-end accident. While airbags can prevent serious brain injuries, they are known to break bones in the face on heavy impacts. Bones in the lower body can be broken upon collision with the dashboard – and the victim can suffer lacerations if a window shatters during the crash.
Fortunately, broken bones and lacerations can be healed relatively fast with medical treatment, compared to brain and spinal cord injuries.
Who Is At Fault in a Rear-End Accident?
We’ve all likely heard that the rear driver is automatically at fault in a rear-end accident. This is true in most situations. However, there are some scenarios in which the front driver is at fault. For instance:
- The front driver stopped too suddenly.
- Their brake light is broken.
- They were driving erratically.
- They reversed into the rear vehicle.
- The vehicle is stopped in the middle of the road without hazard lights on.
Attributing fault in a rear-end accident can be difficult if you are the rear driver. Unfortunately, it’s usually an uphill battle. You will need to hire a skilled rear-end accident lawyer to fight your claim. This process will involve gathering sufficient evidence to prove the front driver made a mistake that led to the accident.
Do You Need An Attorney After You Get Rear-Ended?
Seeking a fair rear-end accident payout is extremely difficult without an attorney – even if the other driver is clearly at fault. In any car accident, earning compensation for damages involves a rigorous process of gathering evidence and negotiating with insurance companies for the settlement.
At a glance, here’s what a specialized lawyer will manage:
1. Add up all damages to recoup.
Damages from a car accident will add up quickly – and you don’t want to leave anything on the table. These damages are grouped into two different categories: economic and non-economic.
Economic damages are easier to add up. These include (but are not limited to):
- Medical bills
- Future medical treatment
- Property damage
- Lost wages
- Loss of future earning potential.
Non-economic damages are more of a gray area, including:
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Loss of companionship
Your attorney will work closely with you to put a price tag on all these damages.
2. Gather evidence to file the claim
The next step will be gathering evidence to place liability on the at-fault party. In a rear-end accident, this will include (but is not limited to):
- Police report
- Medical analysis of the injury
- Pictures of the accident
- The road conditions
- Witness statements
This information will play a vital role in the personal injury claim.
3. Negotiate the settlement with insurance companies
Negotiating with insurance companies is the biggest obstacle in most car accident cases. Now, many people assume their car insurance company is on their side. When an injury is involved, this is not the case. Insurance companies have an obligation to maximize their bottom line – your best interests are secondary.
It’s important to be careful when you speak with your insurance company after an accident. There are many things you can inadvertently say that will compromise your claim.
Negotiating with insurance companies is why you hire an attorney. These lawyers are trained to fight for the highest rear-end accident payout. More importantly, they will make sure victims do not get taken advantage of in the process.
How Much Does a Rear-End Accident Lawyer Cost?
Many people assume they have to navigate the car accident process alone simply because they can’t afford an attorney. This is not true. In fact, hiring an attorney doesn’t cost victims ANYTHING out-of-pocket.
This is because car accident attorneys work on a contingency fee agreement. This means they make a percentage of the total car accident rear-end settlement paid out AFTER they win the case. Victims do not have to pay a penny upfront.
What’s the Next Move?
Knowing what to do when you get rear-ended is not always clear. The most important thing to keep in mind is you are not alone. If you have suffered an injury due to someone else’s negligence, you deserve compensation for your damages.
Hopefully, this post has provided some good insight on rear-end accidents and what the next steps are. If you have any further questions or concerns, do not hesitate to reach out to Midwest Injury Lawyers. One of our specialized car accident attorneys will be happy to guide you in the right direction.