A rear-end collision occurs when a car slams into the vehicle in front of it. Although this car accident can happen anywhere, rear-end crashes are frequent in congested traffic and busy intersections.
Drivers in such situations may be following too closely or become distracted. Consequently, they have insufficient time to react and avoid crashing into another vehicle, particularly at a stop sign or red light.
Rear-end accidents can range from a simple fender bender to a catastrophic collision, which can cause severe injuries and even fatalities. According to the Insurance Information Institute, 2,428 rear-end accidents were recorded in 2020, with 6.8 percent resulting in fatal crashes.
Injured victims of rear-end crashes may seek compensation for their injuries and losses. Suppose you or your loved one sustained injuries in a rear-end collision. You may file a personal injury claim or lawsuit against the liable parties to obtain financial compensation.
The settlement amount for each rear-end collision case differs depending on the details of the incident. But with the help of a personal injury attorney, you can secure the full amount you’re entitled to recover.
In this article, we’ll go over a few rear-end collision settlement examples and provide insight into what you can expect in your case.
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Factors Affecting Compensation for a Rear-End Accident Settlement
Two people in the same rear-end accident can experience different degrees of losses or damages. Hence, it’s difficult to calculate how much you can expect to receive in a rear-end accident claim.
Understanding the factors determining settlement amounts can help you obtain the appropriate compensation. When assigning a settlement value to your case, the insurance company typically considers the following:
Severity and type of injuries
The severity and type of injuries sustained after a rear-end collision can range from minor to catastrophic. For instance, some injured victims may escape with only minor bruises, while others may suffer permanent injuries.
Severe and lasting injuries generally increase the value of a rear-end accident claim. The reason is the cost of treatment, loss of income, and pain level will likely be higher with severe injuries.
Treating a serious injury leads to considerably higher medical expenses than a minor injury that heals within a few days. Additionally, severe injuries will likely take longer to heal, resulting in more missed days at work and substantial loss of income.
Promptness of medical care
Seeking prompt medical care after a rear-end accident is vital for your health and the right to full compensation. Insurance companies may reduce the claim or question its validity if you don’t seek immediate medical attention and treatment. They may argue that delays in medical care cause or exacerbate your injuries.
When a doctor examines you, there will be a medical visit record. It will help demonstrate the early stages of your injury and the prompt medical treatment you receive before your condition worsens.
Having medical documentation can make it difficult for the insurance company to dispute your claim. Conversely, you can hurt your claim if you don’t follow the doctor’s treatment plan. Whether it’s a follow-up checkup, counseling, or physical therapy, ensure to adhere to the course of treatment.
Also known as economic damage, your financial losses or expenses, both present and future, directly impact your rear-end accident settlement amount. Injured victims are usually entitled to compensation for all reasonable economic costs associated with the crash and resulting injuries. Examples of these may include:
- Property damages
- Current and future medical expenses
- Loss of wages or income due to missed work
- Lost earning capacity because of inability to return to work
- Household services costs
- Out-of-pocket expenses
Impact on quality of life
The impact of a rear-end accident on your quality of life also affects the settlement value of your case. The settlement amount may be higher if the injuries negatively affect your general well-being and capacity to enjoy everyday activities. But unlike economic costs, quality of life doesn’t have exact monetary value, making it harder to quantify.
Diminished quality of life is an example of non-economic damage. They are intangible losses due to your injuries after the car crash. Other types of non-economic damages that may increase your rear-end accident settlement include:
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional anguish
- Loss of companionship
- Physical scarring or other permanent disfigurements
Some states have imposed caps on non-economic damages for particular cases, affecting the amount you receive in a rear-end collision settlement.
Shared liability for the crash
Suppose the other driver was solely responsible for the auto accident. You may be entitled to receive total compensation for all your losses. But if you’re partly liable for the crash, your percentage of fault will reduce your rear-end collision settlement amount.
For instance, you got rear-ended at a red traffic signal, and the rear driver was texting while driving. But your brake lights were not working. As a driver, you have a legal duty to perform appropriate vehicle maintenance, including the brake lights.
In this scenario, you and the other driver share liability for the crash. Suppose you are assigned 20 percent liability for the accident, and your total damages were $150,000. Based on the comparative negligence rule, you can only recover 80 percent of the total amount or $120,000.
Auto insurance policy limits
Almost every state has specific minimum car insurance requirements. Drivers must carry some insurance coverage to drive their vehicles on public roads legally. The types of coverage and minimum requirements vary by state. However, most states require liability coverage for bodily injury and property damage.
Policy limits determine how much an insurance company can pay for rear-end car accident settlements. Suppose the at-fault driver only carries the minimum car insurance coverage. The insurer can only pay up to the policy limits of the driver.
The settlement amount you may receive can be lower than the exact value of your claim, especially if you suffer serious injuries. Filing a lawsuit is possible if your accident case exceeds the at-fault driver’s policy limits. But that may only hold value if the driver has the resources to pay the damages.
Rear-End Collision Settlement Examples: Calculating Your Case Value
The settlement amounts for vehicle accidents can vary significantly. Moreover, no specific method or formula for calculating the amount of rear-end collision settlement exists. But generally, it’s based on a combination of actual economic losses and compensation for non-economic losses like pain and suffering.
Economic damages are easy to calculate. You add all your medical bills and other financial costs you incurred due to the rear-end accident. In contrast, quantifying non-economic damages is difficult since they are subjective and don’t have an exact dollar value.
Lawyers and insurers often use the per diem and multiplier methods to calculate non-economic damages. We’ll walk you through some rear-end collision settlement examples using both ways.
Minor rear-end accident injuries
Minor injuries don’t cause long-term or permanent damage. In most cases, they only require minimal medical attention and usually heal within a short period.
Most common injuries considered minor in a rear-end accident include soft tissue injuries, such as whiplash, sprains, and contusions. Note that even minor injuries can cause back pain and discomfort. They may also become severe if not treated properly.
Since minor rear-end accident injuries don’t need extensive treatment, medical costs will likely be lower. A minor soft tissue injury may also heal within three weeks.
Suppose your medical costs for minor injuries are $5,000 and lost wages for three weeks are $600. Your total economic costs in this example would be $5,600.
Using the per diem method, you can assign a specific dollar amount for the days you endure pain and suffering for your minor injuries. For instance, you can base your per diem rate on your daily earnings before the accident. Let’s say your per diem rate is $40, and it took you three weeks to recover. You could receive $120 in compensation for pain and suffering.
Using the multiplier method, you can calculate your pain and suffering by multiplying your total economic damages by a multiplier, usually between one and five. Insurance adjusters often use the multiplier of two for minor injuries. If your total economic damages are $5,600, you could receive $11,200 in compensation for pain and suffering.
Major rear-end accident injuries
Major injuries have severe and lasting consequences. They may require intensive treatment and hospitalization. Depending on the severity, healing from a significant car injury may take at least three months or even years. Most common major rear-end accident injuries may include the following:
- Herniated discs
- Back injuries
- Neck injuries
- Head injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Traumatic brain injury
Medical treatments like surgeries, hospitalization, and ongoing and future medical care can result in higher medical costs. Longer recovery time could mean more missed time at work. In severe cases, others may be unable to return to work because of permanent disability.
For example, your total economic damages for a significant head injury is $60,000. Suppose your daily earnings before the accident are $80, and it takes you six months to recover fully from the injury. Using the per diem method, the settlement value for your pain and suffering would be $480.
Alternatively, insurers often use multipliers of four or five for severe and long-term injuries. Let’s say the multiplier of your head injury is five. Using the multiplier method, your compensation for pain and suffering in the case above would be $300,000.
When someone dies in a rear-end accident, the surviving family members may seek compensation for their loss. The eligibility for filing a wrongful death claim varies by state statute. Most states allow the surviving spouse, children, and parents of the deceased victims.
Each case is unique, so it’s hard to determine the average rear-end collision settlement for wrongful death. But the following factors are used to calculate the settlement value:
- Medical expenses and household services
- Funeral expenses and burial costs
- Decedent’s expected lifetime earnings
- Lost benefits, such as pension and medical coverage
- Non-economic losses, such as loss of consortium and mental anguish
An experienced attorney can help you assess your total damages based on the relevant factors in your rear-end accident case.
How can a lawyer help you get the maximum rear-end collision settlement?
The steps you take after getting hurt in a rear-end collision can significantly impact your personal injury settlement. Unfortunately, the shock and trauma of the crash can lead to hasty decisions and mistakes. While some errors are harmless, others may compromise your potential to recover the maximum financial compensation.
Having a personal injury lawyer is one of the best ways to avoid costly mistakes that could hurt your chances of full economic recovery. But many forgo working with one because of the associated costs.
Some car accident attorneys charge high fees for their legal services. But you can find one who offers a free case evaluation and works on a contingency fee arrangement. You only have to pay them if you win the settlement or lawsuit.
Although optional, here’s how a car accident lawyer can help you get the best possible payout after being injured in a rear-end accident.
Collect evidence to support your rear-end accident case
In a rear-end collision, the negligent driver is responsible for paying damages. However, it’s up to the injured victim to establish liability, otherwise known as the burden of proof. A legal standard obliges you to provide sufficient evidence to prove your claim is valid.
You must demonstrate who is at fault, how the other driver acted negligently, and the damages you sustained. Failing to satisfy this requirement may result in the denial of your claim.
Collecting evidence that best supports your rear-end accident claim is one of the lawyer’s essential roles. Attorneys often collaborate with accident reconstruction specialists and medical professionals to give testimony and analysis that substantiate your case.
You can strengthen your claim and increase your chances of receiving a fair settlement with enough evidence. Likewise, working with an experienced attorney can help ensure you have enough evidence to establish liability.
Accurately assess the extent of your damages
Most rear-end accident victims are unaware of their full rights. They may only consider the immediate financial costs of the accident and the short-term impact of their injuries. As a result, they end up accepting the insurance company’s settlement offer without fully understanding the worth of their case.
But a lawyer will examine all the aspects of the accident that will impact you, now and in the future. Besides current and future medical treatment costs, attorneys will evaluate how the injuries affect your mental well-being and capacity to work.
By conducting a comprehensive assessment of potential losses, a car accident attorney can help ensure you recoup the total amount you legally deserve.
Negotiate for the maximum settlement amount
Insurance companies are skilled at convincing victims that they have limited options in how a rear-end accident case goes. They will look for ways to reduce or deny a claim because they want to avoid paying more.
Unfortunately, out of desperation and lack of knowledge of their rights, many injured victims accept the insurance adjuster’s lowball settlement offers. They don’t realize the amount they agreed to is way less than the value of their claim. It may not also be enough to cover medical costs that may arise in the future.
But attorneys can present stronger arguments when negotiating the maximum settlement amount with their experience and knowledge. Besides presenting evidence, they can challenge the insurance adjuster’s determination of fault.
Your lawyer can ensure you’re not responsible for a higher percentage of fault than you should. They may also threaten to file a lawsuit on your behalf. Court actions motivate insurers to settle for a higher amount than face the uncertainty and expense of a trial.
Fight for your legal rights in court
Although insurers generally avoid going to court, there might be instances where they may not cooperate. They may refuse to continue with negotiations after you reject their first offer.
Suppose the insurance company’s settlement offer only partially compensates you. Your lawyers can take your case to trial, provided the statute of limitations hasn’t expired. The attorney can fight for your legal rights in court. Consequently, you may get more money than what the insurance company is willing to offer if you win the trial.
Did you know?
Signalized intersections are among the most common high-risk areas for rear-end crashes, causing significant property damage and serious injuries.
Find an Experienced Lawyer for Your Rear-End Car Accident Case
Have you or a loved one been injured in a rear-end crash? You might be dealing with financial difficulties besides physical and mental pain. Fortunately, rear-end accident victims can hold the negligent driver liable for injuries and losses.
However, like other types of personal injury cases, several factors can cause rear-end collisions and affect your eligibility for compensation. They may involve multiple parties, with injured victims bearing some degree of liability.
The knowledge and experience of a personal injury attorney will be valuable in such complex situations. They can help prove fault in your rear-end accident case and ensure you receive the fair compensation you deserve.
If you want to ensure the best possible rear-end collision settlement, visit The Personal Injury Center. We offer free consultations for a variety of accident cases. We’ll connect you to a reliable law firm with experienced attorneys that have handled similar cases.
Get the maximum settlement amount for your rear-end accident. Reach out to The Personal Injury Center for the best legal assistance.
FAQs on Rear-End Collision Settlement Examples
Is the driver in the back always at fault for a rear-end collision?
In most rear-end collisions, the driver in the back is often found at fault. However, they don't always bear the liability for the accident. It's possible for the driver of the leading car to be negligent and liable for the rear-end crash.
A thorough investigation is crucial when determining the cause of the rear-end accident and the at-fault driver. Here are some examples of driving behavior that may constitute negligence and result in a rear-end collision:
- Driving with malfunctioning brake lights
- Not paying attention to the road while driving
- Following too closely
- Not using a turn signal
- Violating the right of way
How long does settling a rear-end accident case take?
The duration to resolve a rear-end collision case depends on the details of your accidents and the insurance company's cooperation. But you can expect to settle within 90 days if your sustained damages are minor. Meanwhile, more complex cases with severe injuries may take years to resolve.
Can you still pursue legal action if you’re partially responsible for a rear-end collision?
You can pursue legal action, depending on the state where the accident happened. For instance, even if you're only one percent at fault, the following states bar you from recovering damages as they use the contributory negligence rule:
- North Carolina