Most of the time, the at-fault driver pays for damages stemming from a rear-end collision. They’ll either pay out of pocket as directed by a civil court or through their liability insurance. While rear drivers are often the culprit in rear-end collision cases, that’s not always the case. There are many factors that could make another party financially responsible for your losses.
If you suffered injuries in a rear-end collision, the liable party should compensate you. Yet, you might have a hard time determining who this is. In that situation, you can entrust your case to a car accident lawyer who can investigate the collision and determine liability.
The At-Fault Party Generally Pays for a Rear-End Collision
The driver in the back usually causes rear-end crashes. Here, the rear driver typically made some error that sent their vehicle slamming into the car in front. Unless the front vehicle decided to move in reverse (or braked suddenly), they’re generally not responsible.
Most states require motorists to carry liability car insurance for instance just like these. When a collision happens, injured parties can seek damages through a liability claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance. How much insurance they have depends on many factors, including the state’s requirements. For instance, in Georgia, motorists must carry at least $25,000 in bodily injury liability coverage.
The At-Fault Party Isn’t Always the Rear Driver
Sometimes, the lead driver can cause a rear-end collision. The driver in front may have stopped abruptly without reason, making it difficult for the rear driver to stop in time. Additionally, if the driver switched gears and moved in reverse, crashing into the car behind him, he would be at fault.
Confusion over traffic lights and the right of way could also cause a lead driver to falter, resulting in him hesitating or stopping at an inopportune moment. Even if you hit the car in front of you, don’t immediately assume that you’re liable. If the other driver’s negligence caused the collision, you can seek damages from them or their insurer.
You Could Seek Damages Through Your Own Insurance Policy
While many laws require motorists to have coverage, not everyone follows through with this obligation. This leaves injured claimants with few options for seeking damages through the fault-based system. Yet, they could seek damages from their own insurer via an uninsured motorist accident claim.
Some states require that motorists carry uninsured motorist protection coverage. In some states, like Georgia, these policies come with standard plans, and the claimant must reject them in writing to waive coverage. While seeking compensation through a claim with your own insurer may seem arduous, it could ultimately offer the coverage you need.
These Errors Could Make a Driver Responsible for a Rear-End Collision
A motorist could be liable for a rear-end collision if they:
- Drive while distracted. Distracted drivers generally have their eyes, hands, or mind off the road in front of them. This gives them less time to react if a hazard suddenly interrupts the flow of traffic.
- Speeding. When drivers speed, it increases the risk of crashing into other vehicles. Speeding vehicles are also harder to control.
- Driving too fast for conditions. Sometimes, a driver isn’t speeding. Instead, they’re traveling too fast, given present roadway conditions. For instance, even if the posted speed limit is 45 miles an hour, when it rains, a driver may want to slow down. This reduces the risk of hydroplaning and other incidents.
- Fatigue. Overtired drivers are prone to not only falling asleep at the wheel but poor decision-making. A tired brain has trouble concentrating and processing information. Ultimately, this can lead to slower reaction times, thereby increasing the risk of a rear-end collision.
- Misjudgment. Drivers may misjudge the speed of the leading car or the distance between their car and the one in front. All motorists must use their best judgment to avoid collisions.
- Tailgating. When drivers fail to leave proper distance between their vehicles and the one in front, they increase the likelihood of an accident.
- Driving under the influence. Drivers who are impaired by alcohol or drugs cannot make sound judgments while operating a vehicle. They may drive erratically and aggressively, increasing the risk of a traffic accident. Further, they experience blurred vision and slow reaction times, which make matters worse.
Another Party Could Have Liability for Your Losses
While driver error is the leading cause of rear-end collisions, another motorist may not have liability for your losses. For instance, what if faulty brakes caused the crash? Who could hold liability then? Here, you would pursue a product liability claim against the brake’s manufacturer, and not the other motorist.
Issues regarding liability is one of the many reasons you should consider hiring a lawyer in the aftermath of your rear-end collision. They can investigate the accident and pursue the liable party (or parties) for damages.
The Liable Party Could Owe Compensation for These Damages
The amount of money you can receive for a rear-end car accident depends on the situation. There is no average amount you can expect. Your damages are based on your specific losses, which can include:
Economic losses are your financial expenses from the collision. These are easily calculable because they come with documentation, such as bills, receipts, or invoices.
After a rear-end collision, you could collect reimbursement for:
- Lost income. When you suffer injuries, your ability to work suffers, too. You may be out of work for weeks, months, or years depending on your recovery time. A settlement or court award could offer compensation for tips, commissions, bonuses, hourly rates, and other lost earnings.
- Reduced future earning capacity. If you suffered any disability, whether permanent or temporary, it may mean you cannot work at your former capacity. You can include the difference in your past and future earning capacity in your case.
- Medical expenses. The injuries you suffered in a rear-end collision may require medical care. If you received emergency services at the scene, need to continually see a doctor, or require chiropractic care, physical therapy, occupational therapy, or any other treatment, you can collect the money to pay for these necessary expenses.
- Vehicle and property damage. A rear-end collision can destroy the back of your vehicle and lead to other complications. You can include the cost of repairs or replacement in your case.
- Transportation costs. If your vehicle is out of commission, you still need transportation. You may decide to rideshare, use a taxi, take public transportation, or rent a car. In any case, you would not have these expenses were it not for the car crash; therefore, you can add these transportation costs to your car accident claim.
There are many other types of economic losses that can result from a rear-end crash. You can speak to a car accident attorney who can explain which economic damages apply to your case.
Non-economic losses can result from rear-end collisions, as well. These losses refer to the emotional, physical, and psychological costs of the car accident.
You could recover compensation for these non-economic losses:
- Disability. You may lose bodily functions due to the car accident. Sometimes, these losses are temporary. Other times, they are permanent. The loss of use of your body parts, function, or organs could entitle you to compensation.
- Emotional distress. Your emotional well-being may suffer when you experience a rear-end collision. You may experience fear, anxiety, depression, self-isolation, insomnia, or many other issues in response to the crash. Your settlement could include damages for this hardship.
- Diminished quality of life. Physical injuries and emotional trauma both significantly reduce your quality of life. If you cannot move without pain, perform simple tasks on your own, enjoy the activities you love, or carry on relationships the way you used to, you can claim this reduced quality of life in your case.
- Pain and suffering. Pain and suffering is a catch-all term that refers to the physical and emotional turmoil the accident caused. How much you can recover for this expense is contingent on your situation.
There are different methods for calculating non-economic losses. Injury lawyers consider your age, health, occupation, injury, and other factors to figure out how much money you should recover. They also consider the value of your economic damages when calculating your losses.
The At-Fault Driver Could Owe Damages if They Caused These Injuries
Rear-end collisions are the most common roadway accident. These incidents can result in serious injuries that require medical attention.
You could recoup damages for:
- Neck and back sprains
- Neck and back strains
- Nerve damage
- Spinal cord injuries, such as spinal dislocation
- Muscle, ligament, or tendon tears
- Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs)
- Bone fractures
Rear-end collisions can result in fatalities. If you lost a loved one to a rear-end collision, you could file a wrongful death claim or lawsuit to recoup your damages.
Considerations After Suffering a Rear-end Collision
If you want to recover compensation after an accident, there are many things you can do to promote your case’s outcome. Some of these considerations include:
Visiting a Healthcare Professional
Rear-end collisions are a common source of soft-tissue injuries, such as whiplash. Even if you think you can power through your pain and discomfort, don’t. Visiting a doctor rules out any underlying conditions that could threaten your well-being later. Also, your doctor can offer information that could support your case, such as copies of your x-rays and other imaging scans.
Following Your Treatment Plan
You must follow your doctor’s treatment plan exactly. Doing so promotes your recovery period and shows the insurer that you’re committed to recovering your health.
Your treatment plan may include:
- Taking medications as prescribed
- Attending physical therapy
- Limiting strenuous activity
- Taking time off from work or school
- Using assistive devices, such as wheelchairs
Any deviation from your treatment plan could reflect poorly on your case. If you want to make any changes to your treatment plan, tell your doctor first. They can alter your treatment plan and make alterations as necessary.
Referring All Communications to Your Legal Team
Your phone may ring off the hook after a rear-end collision. Even late into the night, you could get text messages from claims adjusters and other insurance representatives. When you have a lawyer, they can field all communications with those involved.
Here, you wouldn’t have to worry about:
- Juggling communications with more than one party
- Accidentally admitting fault for the accident (even if it’s not true)
- Jeopardizing your case
- Having to keep track of who said what
The insurance company cannot contact you directly once you hire an attorney. Any attempts to reach you otherwise could be a bad faith effort to jeopardize your case.
Taking Photos of Your Car’s Damage and Your Injuries
If the collision damaged or destroyed your car, these costs could comprise a significant portion of your claim. To assert the cost of your damages during negotiations, you should take photos of your car’s damage before it gets repaired or towed away.
If possible, you should also take photos of your external injuries, like any bruises or scratches. You want to show that because you suffered injuries in a rear-end collision, you deserve financial recovery.
Considering Help From a Personal Injury Lawyer
As an injured claimant, you have every right to partner with a personal injury attorney in Atlanta after a collision. They have one goal: to resolve your case for the amount you deserve. While you focus on healing, they focus on pushing your case forward. They can negotiate with insurance companies, gather evidence, and advise you on your rights.
What’s more, many lawyers work on contingency. In this arrangement, you pay nothing out of pocket for their services. This makes retaining legal help more financially feasible than you think.