Were you injured in a rear end accident? Getting rear-ended by another vehicle can seem like a shock since you probably did not see the collision coming. A rear-end crash can also cause you to suffer serious, potentially life-altering injuries. Your injuries may require you to undergo expensive medical care and rehabilitation, all while you cannot work and earn a living due to temporary or permanent disabilities. You should not bear the financial burdens your injuries and property damage from a rear end collision caused. Reach out to a Miami car accident lawyer for more information.
A rear end accident claim against an at-fault driver and other liable parties can provide you with the resources you need to fix your car, treat your injuries, and get your life back on track after a devastating crash. Read on to learn more about your legal rights after a rear end accident.
Common Causes of Rear End Accidents
Rear end accidents typically occur because a driver follows another vehicle too closely or fails to brake in time to avoid crashing into slowed or stopped traffic.
Frequent causes of rear-end collisions include:
- Driving too fast for road, traffic, or visibility conditions
- Tailgating/following too closely
- Distracted driving, including using a cell phone while driving
- Drowsy/fatigued driving
- Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs
- Reckless driving, including excessive speeding or swerving through traffic
- Unnecessary or unexpected braking
- Failing to proceed through the intersection
- Cutting off another driver
- Failing to yield when merging into traffic
- Improper or unsafe backing up
- Inadequate tire and brake maintenance
Other factors can cause or contribute to a rear end crash, such as poor road conditions, slick road surfaces from rainfall, or poor visibility due to heavy precipitation or fog.
Injuries Suffered in Rear End Accidents
A rear end crash can cause serious injuries, especially when rear end collisions occur at high speed.
Common injuries suffered by rear end accident victims include:
- Nerve damage
- Herniated spinal disc injuries
- Dislocated joints
- Ligament sprains and tears
- Muscle/tendon strains and tears
- Head and facial injuries, including lacerations, eye injuries, or dental injuries
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Chest injuries
- Broken bones
- Crush injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Burns and smoke inhalation injuries from post-crash vehicle fires
- Amputation or limb loss
Rear End Accident Statistics
The Insurance Information Institute reports that 2,428 fatal rear end collisions occurred across the U.S. in one recent year, representing nearly seven percent of all fatal motor vehicle accidents. The III also notes that rear end accidents result in over 30 percent of all injury crashes and over 30 percent of all property damage-only accidents.
According to the Department of Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, accidents that arose from one motorist following another vehicle too closely resulted in thousands of accidents in Florida in one recent year, including:
- 228 accidents resulting in incapacitating injuries
- 2,589 accidents resulting in non-incapacitating injuries
- 10,275 accidents resulting in possible injuries
- 40,107 accidents resulting in no injuries/property damage only
What Should You Do After a Rear End Accident?
After a rear end crash, to protect your rights and begin the preparation of your compensation claim:
- Report the crash to local law enforcement or the Florida Highway Patrol
- Exchange insurance information with the other driver
- Get contact information from any eyewitnesses to the crash
- Take cell phone photos or videos of details of the accident scene, including vehicle damage, skid marks on the road, traffic signs or signals, weather/road/traffic conditions, and any visible injuries you suffered
- Go to the hospital or your doctor’s office as soon as possible to document the injuries you sustained in the crash
- Follow your provider’s treatment instructions and recommendations and do not put off or end your treatment program
- Keep copies of bills and invoices to document your expenses from the crash
- Gather your medical records and pay stubs/income statements to document your injuries and lost income
- Start a diary or journal to record the pain and physical difficulties you experience from your injuries or medical treatments
- Try to avoid social media during your medical recovery and legal claims process
Finally, reach out to a rear end car accident lawyer as soon as possible to quickly start the claims process to recover compensation for your injuries and losses.
How To Prove Fault for a Rear End Accident
The law normally presumes that the driver in the rear caused the rear end accident. The presumption exists because drivers are supposed to leave enough distance between their vehicle and the one in front to slow down or stop if the vehicle in front brakes. However, other circumstances may affect the determination of fault for a rear end crash.
Evidence frequently used to determine responsibility for a rear end collision includes:
- Accident scene photos and videos
- Eyewitness testimony
- Surveillance/traffic camera footage
- Dashcam footage
- Vehicle event data recorder (black box) logs
- Driver cell phone records, call/text message/email logs, and social media posts
- Law enforcement crash reports
- Accident reconstruction reports and recreations
Other parties besides the driver in the rear may have liability for a rear end accident. For example, a driver who cuts off another vehicle may bear fault for causing a rear end collision. Or the driver of the vehicle that rear-ended you may not bear responsibility for the crash if another driver negligently rear-ended their vehicle.
Pursuing Compensation After a Rear End Accident
You may have several options for recovering compensation after suffering injuries in a rear end collision. As a no-fault state, Florida requires auto insurance companies to offer personal injury protection coverage in their policies. You can file a claim with your auto insurer to recover PIP benefits from your policy, which can help pay for medical expenses and reimburse you for lost income after missing work due to injuries from a crash.
In most cases, PIP coverage will not fully compensate you for your expenses and losses from a rear end accident.
You may file a legal claim against the driver at fault for the crash to get money to pay for your:
- Costs of medical treatment and rehabilitation for your injuries, including hospital care, surgeries, prescriptions, purchases of medical/mobility equipment or supplies, and physical/occupational therapy
- Costs of healthcare and support services you need for permanent disabilities, including home health care, housekeeping, or renovations to install disability accommodations in your home
- Vehicle repair expenses or reimbursement of your vehicle’s value if the insurance company declared it a total loss
- Loss of income from missed time from work or reduced earnings in a modified-duty job while you recover from your injuries
- Loss of future earnings and job benefits caused by permanent disability from employment
- Reduced enjoyment and quality of life caused by disabilities or scarring/disfigurement
- Physical pain and emotional distress
Sometimes, the at-fault driver doesn’t have liability insurance, or their policy limits cannot fully compensate you for your expenses and losses. When that happens, you may have the option of filing a claim with your insurance provider if you purchased optional uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage.
How a Lawyer Can Help After a Rear End Accident
Recovering from serious injuries sustained in a rear end accident may take weeks or even months. However, your medical bills and other expenses will continue to pile up while you seek treatment and rehabilitation or cannot work because of your injuries. You should not force yourself back to work just to make ends meet.
You deserve to focus your time and energy on your physical and emotional recovery. A rear end accident attorney can handle your legal claims while you focus on your medical treatment.
A lawyer will take care of all the details of your rear end accident case, including:
- Investigating the crash to secure important evidence, such as video footage of the accident, crash scene photos, electronic records, and police accident reports
- Working with accident reconstruction experts to help build a persuasive case against the other driver
- Documenting your expenses and losses to calculate the compensation you deserve to recover in your case
- Going over your legal options with you and preparing you for each step of the claims process
- Assisting you with obtaining vehicle repairs or alternative transportation and getting you specialist medical care, if necessary
- Dealing with bill collectors and insurance adjusters on your behalf to reduce the stress of your recovery
- Preparing and filing insurance claims or lawsuits to pursue maximum financial recovery for you through a negotiated settlement or in court
Frequently Asked Questions About Rear End Accidents
Here are the answers to some common questions that victims of rear end accidents have about their legal options.
How Long Do I Have to File a Rear End Accident Lawsuit?
Under Florida Statutes Section 95.11, you usually have four years to file a lawsuit after suffering property damage and injuries in a rear end crash. The trial court may dismiss a lawsuit filed after the expiration of this statutory period. If that happens, you could lose your right to recover compensation from the driver at fault for the crash.
If you had a rear end collision with a state government vehicle, Florida Statutes Section 768.28 requires you to give the Florida Department of Financial Services notice of your claim within three years of the accident. The department then has up to 180 days to evaluate your claim, and you cannot file a lawsuit until the expiration of this period or until the state denies your claim, whichever occurs first.
Can I File a Claim for a Rear End Accident I Bear Partial Responsibility for Causing?
Yes, you can still pursue compensation for your injuries even if you are in some way to blame for them. Florida uses a pure comparative negligence system that permits someone partially at fault for an accident to file claims or lawsuits against other at-fault parties.
Insurance adjusters and attorneys debate matters of fault, with a court acting as a neutral fact finder if the case goes to trial. The more fault apportioned to the other parties, the more compensation you stand to recover. A rear end accident lawyer can advocate on your behalf to maximize your financial recovery under the pure comparative negligence rule.
Will I Need to Go to Court to Recover Compensation After a Rear End Accident?
Most rear end accident claims settle before reaching trial or even before ending up in court. A rear end accident attorney can pursue a settlement that provides you with financial recovery for your injuries as soon as possible after the crash. But an experienced lawyer can advise when going to court or trial will give you the best opportunity to recover maximum compensation for your injuries and losses.
How Long Does a Rear End Accident Claim Take?
Nobody can accurately predict how long it may take for you to recover compensation after a rear end accident.
The duration of your case will depend on:
- The severity of your injuries
- The duration of your medical treatment and rehabilitation program
- Whether you suffer any permanent disability from your injuries
- Whether you miss time from work or suffer ongoing and future losses of earnings
- Whether you share any responsibility for causing the rear end accident
- Whether any other people sustained injuries in the crash
- The number of potentially at-fault parties and whether they dispute their respective shares of fault
- The complexity of the evidence in your case
- The availability of insurance coverage
- The extent of the liable parties’ financial resources to compensate you
- Whether you need to file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver or other liable parties
- The trial court’s scheduling and availability
Do I Need a Lawyer to Get a Settlement From the Insurance Company After a Rear End Accident?
You might assume that receiving a settlement offer from the insurance company after a rear end accident means you don’t need an attorney. However, having legal representation can help you maximize your financial recovery after the accident. A lawyer can thoroughly investigate the crash and build a robust and persuasive argument that you deserve compensation. Reach out to a Miami personal injury lawyer.
Your attorney can also review any settlement offer you receive and evaluate your injuries and losses to advise you whether the settlement provides fair compensation. A car accident lawyer can also negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf to secure a larger settlement for you, if necessary.