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Can You Sue for a Rear-End Collision?

Rear-end collisions account for approximately 29% of all auto accidents in the U.S., making it the most commonly occurring type of collision on the roads. More than 500,000 people are injured in these types of crashes. If you’re one of them, you may wonder if you can sue for compensation. If another driver was responsible for the crash, you can sue the liable party.

Causes of Rear-End Collisions

A majority of rear-end collisions happen when the lead car is moving very slow or is at a complete stop. Distracted driving is the leading cause of these accidents. The driver in the car behind is frequently following too closely and doesn’t react to the slowing or stopped vehicle in time. The primary sources of distraction include:

  • Texting
  • Talking on a cellphone or with a passenger
  • Eating
  • Looking at the surrounding area for too long

Other common rear-end collision causes include the at-fault driver speeding, road rage or other reckless driving, driving too fast for road conditions, tailgating, and drunk driving.

Where You Can Sue After a Rear-End Collision

Auto insurance companies often attempt to pay out as little as possible for accidents. Depending on what state you live in, you may have no-fault insurance laws or comparative-negligence rules that impact your ability to file a suit and collect compensation.

No-Fault Impacts

No-fault laws limit when you may sue a negligent driver for the personal injuries you sustain in a car accident. In these states, every driver is required to file car accident claims with their own insurance company, even when the driver sustains an injury. These 12 states currently have true no-fault laws on the books:

  1. Florida
  2. Hawaii
  3. Kansas
  4. Kentucky
  5. Massachusetts
  6. Michigan
  7. Minnesota
  8. New Jersey
  9. New York
  10. North Dakota
  11. Pennsylvania
  12. Utah

Puerto Rico also has a no-fault insurance law. If you live in one of these places, you can only sue the at-fault driver in a rear-end collision when personal injuries exceed a legally designated threshold. In some states, there is a monetary threshold, which may be as low as $500. In others, the threshold may be the type or severity of injury sustained.

Comparative-Negligence Impacts

Many states have comparative-negligence rules. These rules distribute liability between any driver involved in a car accident. The insurance companies involved (or the court) determine how much each driver contributed to the accident and assigns a percentage. Even in a rear-end collision, you could be assigned some of the blame, thereby reducing how much compensation you are eligible for.

True comparative negligence laws allow a plaintiff to collect damages from the other party if the other driver is found liable for any part of the accident, even if it is only 1%. Other states establish a liability limit such that if the court decides the driver is at least 50% at fault, the individual is ineligible for compensation from the other driver.

Reasons for a Lawsuit After a Rear-End Collision

If you rely on insurance companies to compensate you for your injuries and damages, you are unlikely to receive enough to cover all your costs. Insurers tend to offer quick settlements. Not only do they want the claim closed, but they also want to lower their expenses. You may not even know the full extent of your injuries when they deliver the settlement offer.

Furthermore, the other driver’s insurance company may draw up a settlement that does not include important factors such as:

Accepting an offer too quickly can leave you holding the bill for a lot of expenses related to your accident. Additionally, the other driver’s insurer may attempt to deny liability, and your own insurance company may claim that you don’t have sufficient coverage.

If you live in a state that has comparative-negligence laws, you may be at risk of the other driver attempting to place half of the blame on you. They may claim that you slammed on your brakes without any reason or failed to signal before slowing down to make a turn. While much of the liability may still rest with the other driver, you may still end up paying a large portion of the expenses you incur from the accident.

Proof of Liability

Liability laws can be complicated, especially given that there is no consistency across states. If you’ve been rear-ended, you may want to consult with a personal injury lawyer before filing a claim. An attorney who knows liability and personal injury laws can help you understand the legal complexities so you can decide how to proceed.

After a car accident, if you are physically able, it’s a good idea to take photos and videos of the scene. Street and dash cams are other sources of video footage. An attorney knows how to gather this evidence, along with other important elements that support your claim with an insurance company or in the courts, including:

  • Testimony from witnesses at the scene and all those involved in the rear-end collision
  • The police report from the accident
  • Medical reports and testimony from your doctors and healthcare providers (including mental health professionals)
  • Expert testimony from other professionals who can offer additional insight and information

A lawyer can evaluate all the evidence, interpret your insurance policy and assess the facts according to state law.

Compensation Factors

Calculating what you deserve in compensation isn’t as easy as adding up your current hospital bills, though those figures are an important factor. It’s important to understand that car accidents, especially rear-end collisions can cause injuries that aren’t immediately apparent.

Types of Injuries

The type of injuries you receive from a rear-end collusion contribute to what kind of compensation you should pursue. Neck, back and spinal column injuries are common, as are broken bones and brain injuries. While a car accident victim is usually aware of serious injuries, some injuries lead to complications or don’t present themselves until weeks later.

Rear-end collisions frequently lead to concussions or traumatic brain injuries even if an airbag is deployed. Traumatic brain injuries can lead to serious cognitive deficits, and it’s often difficult to determine if the individual will fully recover.

Qualifying Expenses

Your compensation should cover your medical bills for treatments related to the accident, both currently and any future procedures you may require to get your health and quality of life back. Medical bills include procedures, medications and aids. Additionally, any physical or mental health therapies you need can also factor into your compensation amount. You should also be able to recoup your transportation costs to these appointments.

Other Losses

If you’ve been seriously injured in a rear-end collision, you can include certain losses when determining what to include in your compensation. You may be able to recover lost wages for time missed while recovering. Furthermore, if you can no longer work in the same capacity, you can include future wages lost due to a diminished work capacity. Finally, rear-end collisions can lead to tremendous pain and suffering. While it’s difficult to put a figure on this loss, you may be able to receive compensation for it.

Help for Your Rear-End Collision Claim

At Fielding Law, we are committed to helping people with their car accident and personal injury claims. We know the law, and we understand how insurance companies operate. When you work with one of our attorneys, you receive personalized attention from a skilled personal injury and car accident lawyer. Get in touch with us today to find out how we can help.