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How Much Is Your Rear-End Accident Settlement Worth?

Rear-end crashes can vary in severity from minor fender benders to life-changing accidents resulting in severe injuries and disability. While resolving minor accidents may just need a phone call to your insurer, you will want personal injury attorneys like Georgia Auto Law on your side for anything more serious. Getting an estimate of how much your settlement is worth gives you an excellent negotiating position, and an attorney will fight aggressively to protect your rights throughout the claims process, letting you focus on recovering from your accident. 

Rear-End Car Accidents Statistics

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), rear-end accidents make up 29% of total recorded crashes. Most of these accidents happen when the lead vehicle is stationary or moving slowly, and the person behind fails to slow down in time to avoid a collision.

While Georgia is the 8th most populous state, it ranks the 4th for the largest number of car accidents, only beaten out by Texas, California, and Florida. Despite efforts to reduce the number of road deaths, Georgia has seen a steady uptick in fatal accidents, from 1,417 in 2019 up to 911 fatalities in the first half of 2021. This means that rear-end accidents are common in Georgia, and they can often result in serious injuries that significantly impact your quality of life.

According to the Georgia Department of Transportation, the leading cause of accidents is tailgating, followed by drivers losing control of the vehicle or failing to yield correctly.

What Causes Rear-End Collisions?

The trickiest part of any rear-end collision settlement is proving negligence by one or both drivers. Three main factors contribute to the prevalence of rear-end collision accidents on the road.

1. Distracted Driving

Distracted driving means you aren’t paying attention to the situation around the vehicle. Driving while distracted makes you a danger to everyone around you, as you’re less likely to notice danger or warning signs and more likely to make mistakes that lead to accidents.

According to the CDC, the three main distraction types include:

  1. Visual distractions where you take your eyes off the road
  2. Manual distractions where you take your hands off the wheel
  3. Cognitive distractions, where you take your mind off the process of driving

Using a cell phone while driving combines at least two and possibly all three types of distracted driving, making it one of the most dangerous behaviors on the road. The prevalence of cell phone use as a risk factor has led many state and federal initiatives to curb phone use while driving, such as banning texting while driving or mandating the use of hands-free kits.

Other forms of distracted driving include eating food or drinking a beverage, reaching for an object, and even boredom.

2. Speeding

Speeding can worsen a minor rear-end collision accident due to impact force. The faster the car moves, the harder the impact of the collision, leading to more serious injuries for anyone present in either vehicle.

Speeding also reduces your reaction time and increases the braking distance, making it more likely to hit the person in front of you even if you slam on the brakes.

3. Tailgating

Tailgating is when a driver follows the car in front of them too closely. Not only is this rude and aggressive behavior, but it also increases the chances of a rear-end crash because the driver won’t have enough time or space to brake in the event of an emergency.

Types of Injuries Caused by Rear-End Car Accidents

Neck Injuries

Neck injuries are some of the most common injuries following a rear-end collision accident. As your head whips forward and back due to impact, it damages the muscles, tendons, and ligaments around the neck and spine.

This condition, called whiplash, affects around 20% of people involved in a rear-end accident. It can range in severity from mild stiffness to long-lasting headaches, torn ligaments, and chronic pain.

Head Injuries

A rear-end car accident can cause traumatic brain injuries when the victim’s head hits the headrest, steering wheel, or airbag. Common symptoms of brain injuries include loss of consciousness, dizziness, sensitivity to light and sound, concussion, and chronic headaches.

The main challenge with traumatic brain injuries is that they can sometimes take several days or weeks to manifest. This delay can affect an accident settlement, as it’s harder to prove the correlation between the traumatic brain injury and the car accident.

Broken Bones

Many rear-end collision victims suffer from broken arms, wrists, or hands due to holding onto the steering wheel during the accident. Some victims also suffer from broken or cracked ribs and collar bones due to the force of the seat belt holding them back during a rear-end collision.

Soft Tissue Damage

Victims of a rear-end collision often don’t see the impact coming, so they don’t have time to prepare or brace for impact. This lack of preparation leads to more severe soft tissue injuries, such as bruising, internal organ damage, and bleeding.

While rare, rear-end collisions can also cause abdominal and spinal injuries due to the forces involved in the impact. These can range from herniated disks to bruised internal organs and may sometimes be life-threatening.

Rear-end crashes can result in serious injuries for everyone involved and lead to extensive medical treatment, medication, and physical therapy. While most people assume that the rear-ended victim suffers the worst injuries, those in the rear-ending vehicle can also suffer from debilitating and life-threatening medical conditions due to the accident.

Some injuries may be too devastating to treat, resulting in permanent disability and other life-altering consequences. A rear-end collision settlement aims to pay for your medical bills, deal with health insurance company limits, any other pain and suffering you endure, and help you move on with the rest of your life.

What to Do After a Rear-End Car Accident

Your actions after a rear-end collision can significantly impact your accident claim. Behaving appropriately and collecting the necessary evidence makes it easier for your personal injury attorney to provide an accurate picture of the car accident during the accident settlement process.

If you’ve been seriously injured in a car accident, you may not be able to complete all of the steps below, but keeping your wits about you and calling an attorney will benefit you during the accident settlement claim.

Secure the Scene

The first step after an accident is to prevent any further accidents. If you’re in the middle of a busy highway or road, move the vehicles off the road and check for injuries. Most people experience an adrenaline rush after an accident, so take a deep breath and calm yourself before proceeding to the next steps.

Contact Emergency Responders

Notify emergency services as well as the local police of the accident. Even in minor fender benders, having a police report can provide valuable evidence and an accurate record of the scene.

Take Pictures of the Scene

Memories tend to be unreliable, especially in stressful conditions. Most rear-end accident victims can’t remember the color or make of the other person’s car, and memories will often change to fit a particular narrative. That’s why getting objective evidence is so important.

Take lots of pictures of the scene and any car damage. Some rear-end collision damages aren’t immediately obvious, so look for alignment issues, transmission damage, electrical damage, and visible frame, trunk, and bumper damage.

Get Relevant Contact Details

The police will usually collect the contact details of everyone involved in the rear-end accident and potential witnesses. However, collecting this information for your personal records and keeping your own file is also a good idea. Contact information should include:

  • Full names of everyone involved, including drivers, passengers, and witnesses
  • Addresses and phone numbers of the involved parties
  • Insurance providers for all drivers and passengers
  • Driver’s license information for drivers and passengers
  • License plate numbers, car manufacturer, model, and colors of involved vehicles

In addition, consider noting information such as the accident’s time, date, location, weather conditions, and potential road hazards.

It’s also essential to note whether the other driver is uninsured, especially if you don’t have uninsured motorist coverage. Filing a personal injury claim differs if both parties have full auto insurance or if one doesn’t have full insurance. It’s a good idea to contact a personal injury attorney before speaking to your insurance adjuster to get advice on the best way to proceed.

Seek Medical Treatment

You may feel fine after a rear-end accident, but adrenaline and shock can mask many physical injuries. Even minor accidents can cause long-term injuries, so seek medical treatment immediately after the accident.

In addition to preventing long-lasting damage, getting medical advice can link your injuries to the accident. If you don’t get medical help and then want to pursue a settlement, the opposing party may argue that your injuries weren’t due to the accident and were caused by something else. A clear link makes it easier to claim damages for your rear-end collision injuries.

Contact Your Insurance Company

Try to report your accident to your insurance company within 24 hours. When you speak to the insurer, try to stick to guidelines that can save you a lot of trouble in the subsequent proceedings.

First, don’t assume blame for the accident, even if you’re convinced you’re the at-fault driver. Mitigating factors, such as poor weather, can greatly impact your accident claim and change the responsibility for the accident.

Second, don’t mention whiplash, even if it’s a medical diagnosis, as it often triggers skepticism on the part of insurance companies. Additionally, don’t tell them you “feel fine,” as some injuries can take several months to manifest.

Finally, keep your conversations with your insurer neutral and objective. Stick to facts like the location and time of the rear-end collision, the contact details of the involved people, and the types of vehicles in the accident. Don’t add any opinions, such as who was at fault or potential mitigating circumstances that may affect the final settlement.

Talk to a Car Accident Lawyer

While you may not need an attorney for a simple fender-bender, many rear-end collision cases are more complex than they initially appear. Speaking to an experienced auto accident attorney can help you understand your rights during the rear-end collision claim, giving you peace of mind and letting you get on with the rest of your life.

Determining Fault for a Rear-End Accident

Personal injury claims rely on the principle of negligence, and a large portion of determining fault rests on determining which party was negligent during the accident.

Georgia is an at-fault state, meaning that the driver responsible for an accident (or their insurance company) must pay for the other driver’s damages, including medical bills, lost wages, vehicle damage, and pain and suffering. Proving fault is an essential step in the car accident settlement, as it determines who is liable for damages.

Proving negligence has several steps. Firstly, the attorney must prove that there is a standard duty of care, such as obeying traffic laws to prevent accidents.

Secondly, the attorney must prove that the at-fault driver breached their duty of care —for example, speeding or driving while distracted. Finally, the attorney has to link this breach of care to the accident and the car accident victim’s injuries.

While in many rear-end collision accidents, the assumption is that the rear driver is at fault, there are instances where the front driver caused the accident, such as braking suddenly for no reason.

Proving negligence may appear easy, especially in a straightforward rear-end collision, but it still requires gathering evidence and presenting a clear and accurate picture of the car accident. An experienced personal injury lawyer or team will collect the necessary evidence to build a strong case and seek fair compensation and damages.

Evidence Examples

Local police departments often investigate car accidents that result in extensive injuries. These investigation reports form an excellent foundation for any rear-end collision settlement, as they tend to provide an unbiased and objective review of the facts.

Police may also pursue criminal charges or citations for traffic violations after their investigations. These criminal charges are completely separate from any civil accident settlement, but your personal injury attorney can still use evidence in this charge to support your claim.

Lawyers will also obtain statements from drivers and passengers involved in the rear-end crash. Everyone will have a different interpretation of events, but they’re also the most closely involved and can provide crucial evidence. Most rear-end collision settlements will use other evidence to substantiate or disprove each driver’s statement.

Photos and video often provide context for environmental factors that could cause a rear-end auto crash. For instance, road conditions, weather, and nearby hazards may influence drivers’ behaviors, and mitigating circumstances may change the final car accident settlement amount.

Medical records are an essential component of any settlement agreement. These records can prove that the car accident victims suffered severe injuries due to the crash. They can also help calculate the personal injury settlement amount for current and future medical bills.

Calculating the Settlement Value of a Rear-End Car Accident

Reaching an agreement for a settlement amount can be a daunting process. Insurance companies will often try to lower the rear-end accident settlement value, which is why it helps to have personal injury lawyers on your side.

Your financial compensation will generally depend on the accident’s severity, the extent and type of injuries you sustain, insurance policy limits, and current and future medical expenses. The settlement must cover both current damages and future costs resulting from the sustained injuries.

Economic Damages

Economic damages are the portion of a car accident settlement that deals in hard numbers.

In general, medical costs are one of the largest expenses of any accident. These can include:

  • Doctor visits
  • Surgery
  • Prescription medication
  • Physical therapy
  • ER visit
  • Travel costs
  • Medical tests
  • Rehabilitation

It’s important to note that a car accident settlement considers current and future medical bills. For instance, if you require chronic pain management due to your rear-end collision, the insurance company will also have to cover those future costs. The same applies to physical therapy, subsequent surgeries, and other medical bills stemming from the accident.

The other major category in a rear-end collision settlement is missed wages and lost income. Lost wages refer to money you’ve lost by not coming to work because you were recovering from the auto accident.

Lost income, on the other hand, refers to lost earning potential due to disability or injury. If you can no longer perform your job, your settlement may include an amount similar to what you would have earned if you weren’t injured.

Non-Economic Damages

Non-economic damages tend to be less well-defined than economic damages. These damages don’t have fixed amounts, like those for lost income or medical expenses for broken bones and other injuries. Instead, non-economic damages try to compensate for the emotional and mental damage due to being rear-ended.

Common examples of emotional damage include:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • Trauma
  • Disability distress

Your car accident lawyer will often have a method for determining these damages based on average settlement amounts and your unique circumstances.

Punitive Damages

In extreme cases, the judge may decide to add on punitive damages. These are damages designed to punish the at-fault party in the hopes that it will deter others from making the same mistakes. Punitive damages usually aren’t part of an average settlement, and amounts are left for the judge and jury to decide.

Benefits of a Personal Injury Lawyer

Getting rear-ended is never a pleasant experience, and while most rear-end collisions end up as fender-benders, some may have more significant consequences, including disability, lost earnings, and medical bills. While it’s easy to resolve fender-benders by simply calling your insurance company, more serious accidents may require the assistance of a personal injury lawyer.

Some people worry that lawyers are expensive, but many personal injury attorneys work on a contingency fee basis. You don’t need to pay anything upfront; the attorney will take a percentage of your final rear-end collision settlement amount. If they can’t help you reach a settlement, you don’t have to pay a dime.

Having a lawyer on your side can prevent you from making mistakes that may affect your rear-end collision settlement. Your attorney will negotiate with your insurance company on your behalf and ensure that your rights are upheld. Remember that seeking compensation for pain and suffering and medical expenses isn’t greedy — it’s offering you the support you need to get out of a situation you didn’t put yourself in.

Insurance companies always want to protect their bottom line, including using unscrupulous tactics to lower the cost of an average settlement by getting you to admit fault or to agree to a lower amount than your pain and suffering and medical expenses warrant. Personal injury attorneys know all the tricks insurance companies will try to pull and are ready to aggressively defend your rights and fight for your compensation.

Personal injury lawyers will also guide you through the claims process. Since Georgia is an at-fault state, the procedures for dealing with rear-end collisions differ depending on who caused the accident and their insurance coverage. An attorney can help you handle the paperwork and navigate the complexities of a serious rear-end collision settlement, allowing you to focus more on your recovery.

Contact a Rear-End Car Accident Attorney

Getting rear-ended can alter the course of your life, resulting in injuries that cause pain and suffering, lost wages, and medical bills that you can’t afford. Rather than trying to fight on your own, work with an experienced attorney who will work aggressively on your behalf.

We’re passionate about helping people with their rear-end accident cases. If you suffer from injuries after being rear-ended by a truck driver or personal vehicle, don’t hesitate to contact Georgia Auto Law today! Our team of lawyers is here to defend your rights and help you navigate the tricky waters of a rear-end accident claim and settlement process.

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