Car collisions can make you suffer a great deal of temporary and permanent damage. You may have to undergo treatment for physical injuries, and also get your car repaired. The national record highlights the seriousness of this issue, with more than 32,000 fatalities in six million auto accidents that occurred throughout the country in 2014, including lives lost in rear-end collisions.
Rear-end crashes can caused by a number of factors, but are more prevalent due to road hazards including blurred vision due to foggy weather, potholes, and damaged or defective traffic signals. Diversions for construction projects on highways can act as sudden obstacles or distractions for drivers. Drivers need to be cautious and attentive of such obstructions and avoid stopping abruptly. Tail lights should be used to intimate the rearward drivers.
While you can be compensated for the injuries caused by rear-end collisions, you should be thorough about your rights, valuation of your indemnities, and the legal procedures related to filing a claim. Consult an experienced attorney to benefit from his/her detailed understanding of complex legal matters.
If you plan to file a rear-end collision claim, here are a few reasons hiring a car accident lawyer can be a boon:
1. Determining Who’s at Fault
Liability in a rear-end collision is generally determined by the conditions of the accident. In the majority of cases, the tailing driver is found to be at fault for his/her negligence, causing the accident. This is a well-established situation, and many insurance companies rarely question the victim’s claim. Here, the rearward driver is accused of being negligent of his duty of maintaining safe distance from the vehicle in front. In such cases, the insurers of both parties look into the severity of the vehicle damage and bodily injuries sustained from the accident.
This may not always be the case, and motorists driving in front can also be responsible for a rear-end collision. In such a scenario, the victim (rearward driver) needs to prove that the other party failed to pay attention to the road and look for hazards, didn’t stop at a reasonable time, didn’t maintain control of the vehicle, or didn’t use turn signals at the right time. If the tailing driver isn’t able to stop in time due to any of these reasons and hits the vehicle in front, the front driver may be held responsible for the crash.
Your lawyer will be the best person to help you determine the liability for the accident. He/she can do so by examining the damage sustained by both vehicles, the skid marks and the evidence from the accident site. It will be easier for your lawyer to prove the credibility of the rear-end collision claim when he/she can establish the actual cause of the accident.
2. Analyzing Severity of Injury/Damage
Soft-tissue injury or whiplash is one of the common injuries associated with rear-end car accidents. Such injuries are common in auto accidents, especially in cases of rear-end crashes, because of the impact of the collision. The force exerted during the crash can cause the passengers to experience severe jerks or jolts.
In medical terms, whiplash injuries are cervical strain/sprain or hyperextension injury. Common symptoms of whiplash include pain in the neck, shoulder, back and arm areas, stiffness, blurred vision and concussion, and restricted limb movements.
After the accident, get medical care for your injuries immediately. Share your medical reports and test results with your attorney so that he/she can determine the severity of the injuries. Knowing the intensity of the damage sustained can help draft the claim.
3. Filing Accident Report with Police
Depending on the state laws, you may be required to file a report about the accident with the local police department. Even if it isn’t mandatory to do so, filing a police report can help you file a claim, even if the accident seems minor to you. Consult your attorney to arrange all relevant details in the form of medical records and bills, car repair bills, and conveyance costs that need to be present in your official statement.
All experienced car accident lawyers will advise you to include as much information as you can in the report. Ideally, your accident report should have a detailed description of the incident, the number of passengers in both vehicles, the other driver’s name, driving permit and insurance information, damages to your vehicle, and names and contact details of witnesses.
Sometimes, the injuries may not be apparent for a few days or weeks. They may have not required immediate medical attention, but make sure that your medical records reflect the probable cause of the injuries (auto accident) at a later time.
4. Estimating Settlement Value
Settlements for low-impact rear-end collisions without severe injuries are not the same as those meant for accidents with serious damages. The former may range within a few thousand dollars. For accident claims that include medical expenses, lost income, and car repairing costs, the compensation can rise to higher value. Further, if your lawyer can convince the insurance adjuster that you deserve punitive awards to deter or punish the defendant, then the final amount can be above USD 1 million. Factors that are taken into consideration to calculate the settlement value are:
Special Damages: This compensates for economic losses, such as lost wages, lost earning capacity, medical expenses, funeral and burial expenses, and property damage.
General Damages: This includes non-economic losses caused by the accident. The adjuster appointed to your case will consider factors like physical pain and mental suffering such as embarrassment, loss of reputation, and discomfort. General damages can exceed by 1.5 to 5 times the amount allocated for special damages.
Background of the Defendant and Plaintiff: In special cases, the age, occupation, financial background, medical and driving history of both parties can affect the settlement amount. For instance, a plaintiff suffering from a heart condition may be entitled to a higher compensation.
When involved in a rear-end car collision, you should first consult a doctor for treating your injuries, and then hire legal representation to be rightly compensated for the damages. Ignoring the consequences of the accident can have long-term effects on your medical and financial situations. Your lawyer can try to ensure that the liability and compensation in your case are determined, bearing in mind the seriousness of the accident.
Matt Conner is an associate attorney at Brett McCandlis Brown Law Firm. Matt has undergraduate degree from from Willamette University in Salem in mathematics and economics. Matt likes playing soccer, fishing, skiing and camping.