Rear-end collisions are very common in the U.S. According to the Insurance Information Institute (III), they caused 7.1 percent of traffic fatalities in 2019. Typically, the rear driver is at fault in a rear-end collision. However, that’s not always the case. It all depends on who acted negligently.
Injuries and property damage in rear-end collisions can be costly. Those who suffered injuries at the hands of a negligent party will want to prove fault in order to pursue compensation. In many cases, consulting with a car accident lawyer can help determine who is at fault.
Reasons for Rear-End Collisions
There can be many reasons why a negligent driver might crash into the back of another car, including:
- Drunk driving
- Distracted driving
- Drowsy driving
- Following too closely
- Generally reckless behavior
If a driver was texting and then slammed into your vehicle, for example, then fault is clear-cut. In this instance, you would normally be able to hold the other driver accountable for your damages. The at-fault driver generally is responsible for compensating any other road user who suffered injuries and material damages due to their negligence.
However, if your brake lights were broken and you stopped suddenly, leaving another driver little time to react and stop, you may be found partly or wholly at fault for an accident.
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Determining Fault in a Rear-End Collision
Some rear-end collisions, especially those involving multiple cars, are challenging to understand. A driver may be doing everything right and still rear-end another vehicle. This can happen if they get rear-ended and are pushed into the vehicle in front of them, for example. There can also be other circumstances where fault falls on the driver in front, which can include:
- A driver suddenly pulls out into another lane without using indicators.
- The driver in front reverses the vehicle, hitting the car behind them.
- A driver makes an illegal U-turn.
- A driver does not use hazard lights on a disabled car.
There are also other ways a driver in front can be responsible for causing a rear-end car accident.
Other Parties Could Have Caused Your Collision
Although you may think that another motorist caused your accident, fault could rest with:
- A parts manufacturer. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recalls many faulty automotive parts each year, including faulty brakes. If a driver wasn’t able to brake properly because of a malfunctioning part, you could sue the parts manufacturer.
- A government entity. The government is responsible for maintaining safe roadways. If a slippery substance caused a driver to collide with your vehicle, you could hold that agency responsible.
- A car repair service. A mechanic may have improperly installed brakes, creating a hazard. Here, you could hold the mechanic (or their employer) accountable.
Someone Rear-Ended Me. Can I Sue?
If you can prove that another party is at least partly responsible for the accident, then yes, you can sue if your car was rear-ended.
A car accident lawyer can tell you who is at fault for your rear-end collision. Once they have completed their investigation, recovering compensation for your injuries may follow these steps.
Contacting the Insurance Company
No matter who was at fault for your rear-ended car accident, they will likely be represented by an insurance company. The insurer must be notified about the accident so they can:
- Investigate what happened
- Determine who is at fault
- Determine if they should offer you a settlement and, if so, how much
The insurer’s goal is to save themselves money by minimizing the amounts they pay to accident victims like you. This is just as true of your own insurer as the liable party. It is usually a good idea to avoid speaking with them directly and to instead allow a car accident attorney to:
- Notify the relevant insurance companies about your accident
- Tell the insurers how much you are seeking in compensation and why
- Schedule any necessary meetings with the insurers
- Field all telephone calls and emails from the insurer
Negotiating a Settlement
While insurers may be reluctant to pay victims, they are often just as reluctant to go through the expense of a court case. Your lawyer may therefore be able to negotiate a satisfactory pretrial settlement with the insurer by:
- Representing you at all meetings with them
- Presenting evidence to show why you deserve the amount of compensation you are seeking
- Pressuring the insurer to pay a fair amount in a timely manner
Going to Court
In cases where it is impossible to obtain a pretrial settlement, your lawyer may be able to recover a jury award on your behalf instead. This involves:
- Submitting evidence and other paperwork to the court
- Arranging for witnesses to testify on your behalf
- Questioning witnesses on the stand
- Making statements before a judge and jury
- Raising objections if the defendant does not follow proper procedure
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Evidence You Can Use When Naming Liable Parties in Your Rear-End Collision Case
Different forms of documentation can help us pinpoint who caused your rear-end collision. We may collect and analyze evidence, such as:
- The crash report
- Witness statements
- Traffic citations
- Traffic surveillance footage
- Medical records
You must apply this information to these four elements of negligence:
- Duty of care: The other driver was to exercise their legal duty of care.
- Breach of duty: They didn’t act with your safety in mind.
- Causation: They caused a rear-end collision, which injured you.
- Damages: You suffered injuries and losses due to the accident.
Each of these elements must be present in your case to collect compensation.
Compensation in Rear-End Accidents
Determining who is at fault in a rear-end collision is crucial for recovering compensation from the negligent driver and their car insurance company. In some cases, however, proving fault can be tricky. A car accident lawyer can help gather the necessary evidence. They will also know how to accurately calculate an accident victim’s damages and losses.
In a personal injury lawsuit, victims may be able to recover various types of compensation, including economic damages such as:
- Medical bills
- Lost wages
- Medical equipment
- Property damage
- Transportation costs
- Out-of-pocket expenses related to the accident
If a victim suffered significant or life-changing injuries, they might be entitled to non-economic damages for their suffering. These damages can include:
- Physical pain
- Emotional anguish
- Loss of a limb or a sense
Possible Wrongful Death Damages You May Collect
If your loved one passed away due to injuries they sustained in a rear-end collision, you can claim damages for:
- Funeral, burial, and memorial service bills
- Loss of financial assistance
- Final medical costs
- Loss of society or companionship
- Loss of parental guidance or household services
This is not an exhaustive list of available financial awards. If you would like to know how much your case may be worth, a car accident lawyer can give you clarity.
How Long You Have to Sue the Other Driver in Your Florida Rear-End Collision Case
Florida sets a time limit for collecting damages after a rear-end collision. Per Florida Statutes § 95.11(3)(a), you typically have four years to file a personal injury lawsuit. If you lost a loved one in the rear-end collision and are filing a wrongful death lawsuit, the state shortens the deadline to two years in most cases, according to Florida Statutes § 95.11(4)(d).
Complying with your given timeframe is imperative for your right to financial recovery. Failure to adhere results in the state banning you from suing the other party.
In addition to legal deadlines, it is a good idea to keep the availability of evidence in mind as you consider filing a suit. Waiting too long to begin your case could make it more difficult to acquire important evidence such as:
- Surveillance video, which may be deleted within weeks of the accident
- Statements from witnesses, who may quickly forget details of what they saw or be influenced by news reports of the accident
- Statements from experts, who are busy professionals and may need sufficient advance notice if they are to examine and speak about your case
What Should I Do After Being Involved in a Rear-End Accident?
First things first: even if you think you caused the collision, don’t share your thoughts with anyone. For all you know, something beyond your control (or another factor) caused the collision.
Here are some other considerations that could build a strong case:
Seek Medical Attention and Follow Through with Treatment
Rear-end collisions can cause serious injuries, including spinal cord trauma, whiplash, and broken bones. Some of these injuries don’t manifest symptoms right away. It could be days before you notice anything “off.”
By seeking a doctor’s opinion, you can learn more about your condition and what measures could help you reach maximum medical improvement (MMI). You can also start gathering medical evidence that could help your case, such as your lab test results, imaging scans, and other data.
Keep Track of Your Injury-Related Losses
You want compensation for each of your injury-related expenses. To assert your case’s value, you should keep your injury-related invoices, receipts, billing statements, and estimates. Even if you’re not sure whether a document is worth keeping, hold onto it. The smallest shred of information could bolster your claim.
Limit What You Share with Other Parties
Only you and your legal team need to know about your collision’s details. Anything you share could be used to jeopardize your case. You should avoid sharing information:
- Via a recorded statement. The claims adjuster may ask you to give a recorded statement. They may ask you questions that don’t have correct answers or questions that imply you caused the collision.
- Via social media. The claims adjuster could see your posts and use them to delay or contest your case. You should be wary of what you share via email, too.
- With reporters. Car accidents sometimes make the local news, especially if they are severe. Minimize what you share with reporters—or, better yet, avoid them entirely.
While you should certainly cooperate with the police investigation into your crash, be careful about providing more information than the officer asks for. Keep answers short and factual until you have had a chance to get legal advice.
Consult with Your Lawyer About Any Possible Settlement Offers
The insurance company wants to settle your case as soon as possible. So, it may offer a fast (but low) settlement, hoping you’ll accept it. This could actually jeopardize your financial standing. After all, if you accept a settlement offer, your case ends.
You should consult with your lawyer about any possible offers. After evaluating your case, they can explain whether any offers meet your past, present, and future needs.
How a Car Accident Attorney Can Help You with Your Personal Injury Case
After getting hurt in a rear-end collision, navigating the legal system can be frustrating and complicated. Don’t think you have to go through this claims process on your own – consider having a personal injury lawyer go to bat for you while you recover.
- Evaluate settlement offers and negotiate a fair figure with the insurance company
- Take the liable party to court if necessary
- Gather evidence to prove the other party’s negligence
- Talk to your doctors to better understand your injuries and prognosis
- Interview witnesses of the collision
- File your insurance claim and personal injury lawsuit on time
- Deal with all communication with all parties involved
In addition to managing correspondence with other parties, you may rely on your lawyer to keep in contact with you throughout your case. They can give you their phone number, help you set up appointments, update you on the state of your case, and answer all your questions in a timely fashion.
Contact Us for Help with Your Rear-End Collision
Driving in Florida comes with risks. In 2021 alone, over 400,000 crashes happened in the Sunshine State, the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV) reports.
If you suffered damages in a rear-end accident that was another driver’s fault, you could be entitled to financial recovery. Call the Law Offices of Anidjar & Levine today for a free case review. We can also take your case on a contingency fee, so there aren’t any fees due unless we collect damages for you.
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