Were you in a rear end car accident? It is common to wonder how much the average settlement for a rear end collision is, and what you should do next. Who is responsible for your accident damages? What is a typical rear end crash worth?
First, know that rear end accidents are common. Approximately 1/3 of all highway crashes are rear end accidents. A rear end accident occurs when a car hits another vehicle in front of it. Rear end collision damages can vary from minor bumper damage with no injuries to a totaled vehicle with serious personal injuries, such as whiplash, brain trauma, broken bones and organ damage.
What Causes Most Rear End Collisions?
The most common explanation for a rear end crash is the driver in the rear is simply driving too closely to the vehicle in front. Distractions also can lead to these accidents – most often, using a cell phone, talking to passengers, or adjusting the radio. Driver inattention is generally at the heart of most rear end collisions.
There can be other factors, though. Poor weather conditions lead to many rear end accidents. A road that is slick with rain or snow, or fog, can cause many serious accidents. Nonetheless, it is the responsibility of the driver in the rear to drive safely. If that driver hits you from behind, he or she still may be liable for your accident injuries.
What To Do In a Rear End Crash
If you are hit in the rear, there are several vital steps to take right away:
- Check for injuries: Even a low-speed, rear end crash can cause broken bones, facial lacerations and/or whiplash. You should go to the hospital to be checked out, even if you think you are unhurt. Minor soreness right after a crash could turn into a severe injury after a few days, so you are always safer to be examined by a medical professional after an accident. You are more likely to be compensated for your injuries if they were documented right away by a medical professional.
- Document property damage: Take pictures of your vehicle and the one that hit you. Also take photos of the road conditions as soon as possible after the crash. Take wide angle photos of the cars’ positions on the road before they are moved. Also take up close pictures of vehicle damage. If in doubt, photograph it.
- Obtain police report: No matter if the accident is minor or severe, your claim or lawsuit will be bolstered by having a copy of the police report. If the other driver was negligent, it is likely that this will be noted in the police report.
- Contact insurance company: If your car was hit from behind, it is important to give your insurance company with all the information it needs as soon as possible.
Who Is At Fault in a Rear End Accident?
In establishing who is at fault, state and federal laws, as well as insurance companies, will strongly favor the driver that is hit from the rear. Most rear end crashes are eventually blamed upon the driver in the back. This is because driving rules dictate that it is the responsibility of all drivers to follow from a safe distance. By ‘safe distance,’ we mean that the driver should be able to slow and stop in time to avoid hitting another vehicle or object. This applies regardless of why the car in front slowed or stopped.
That said, there are several factors that can reduce the level of rear driver liability. For instance, poor road conditions or poor visibility can be factors in a crash. This can reduce the liability of the driver in the rear.
Another factor to determine fault for rear end collision injuries is whether any laws were broken. If a car makes a left turn at a red light into traffic and is hit from behind by a car with right of way, the car in the rear may not be completely at fault. The driver in front also may be negligent. Other factors that can influence fault are whether the car in front had working brake lights or if the driver suddenly went into reverse without warning.
Determining liability in a rear end collision will consider all the above scenarios and others. The ability of the driver in front to receive rear end collision injuries compensation will depend upon such factors as mentioned above. A personal injury attorney can assist in analyzing specific accident factors to determine liability in your case.
Rear End Collision Settlement Process
To receive compensation, the first step usually is to file an insurance company claim. It is possible that the claim will need to be litigated in court, but most rear end collisions settle out of court. Going to court is expensive and can take weeks or months. It usually is not needed in a rear end crash case. Negligence in these accidents usually is clear.
Typically, the insurance company for the at-fault driver will offer a settlement to the party who has been injured. The initial offer from the insurance company may be inadequate, so be ready to negotiate by proving how much your damages are, including lost income. If the accident involves substantial medical bills and pain and suffering, it would be wise to enlist the help of a personal injury attorney at this point.
Average Settlement Amount for Rear End Collision
The amount you may receive in a rear end car accident will vary tremendously. The idea behind compensation for your accident injuries is to ‘make you whole again.’ This means that the compensation received should be enough to put you in a place where you would have been if you had never been rear ended. What that amount would be will hinge upon your property damage, medical bills, time missed from work, pain and suffering and other factors.
There is no precise calculation that will determine how much you will get in a rear end collision. Your personal injury attorney can help you to understand the types of settlements and judgments that have been decided in your area in similar circumstances recently. Generally, however, remember that the more extensive your injuries and property damage, the higher the possible settlement. Below is a closer look at the key aspects of a rear end accident case that ultimately determine the level of compensation.
What will be the cost to repair your vehicle? Some damage is obvious, such as a crushed bumper. But there could be substantial damage to the frame of the vehicle that is concealed. Therefore, it is smart to have your vehicle completely checked over by a mechanic after the rear end crash.
Medical and Related Expenses
Think about all the medical-related costs after the car hit you:
- Ambulance ride
- Prescription drugs
- Hospital stay
- Doctor visits
- Physical therapy
- Physical and mental pain/suffering
Lost wages are a substantial factor when considering what your potential damages are in a rear end collision. This is defined as how long you were unable to work, as well as how much you will not be able to work in the future due to accident injuries. The level of lost income varies on the sort of work you do, and how the accident has affected it. If you are a server and broke your leg, your lost wages would theoretically be higher than a person who can work sitting at a desk.
The total of all the above damages may be enhanced by a ‘multiplier’ that will depend upon how violent the crash was. The more severe the crash, the bigger the multiplier will be. For a devastating rear end accident that leaves you unable to work for a year, the total financial loss could be multiplied by a factor as high as four, for example.
Rear End Collision Settlement Examples
Below are some real life, rear end collision settlement examples. These can give you an idea of what a settlement might look like. But remember to talk to an experienced personal injury attorney about your specific case to get a better idea of what your settlement could look like.
- $90,000: Client was rear ended by a pickup truck. This broke her driver’s seat and led to a rotator cuff injury.
- $25,000: Client slowed down in traffic and was rear ended by a large SUV. Diagnosed with whiplash and soft tissue injuries.
- $25,000: Client was rear ended at a stop sign; awoke the next day with serious neck and low back pain. Had to have extensive physical therapy.
This article should give you a good overview of what to do in the case of rear end collision injuries. If you have any further questions, it is recommended to speak with a rear end accident lawyer. They will be able to review your case – including your medical records and police report – to determine if there is the possibility of making a personal injury claim.
Frequently Asked Questions:
What are common injuries from rear end car accidents?
Rear-end car accidents are frequent and the most common form of accident that occurs on the road jolting victims while commonly at a complete stop. Rear-end accidents may also be referred to as “fender benders” meaning, the front bumper of one vehicle (the vehicle at-fault) hits the back of the car in front of it. Typically these accidents are minor, occurring is slow traffic usually by distracted or tired drivers. However, rear-end accidents can happen anytime and anywhere. Common injuries sustained from rear-end collisions include:
- Broken bones
- Brain trauma
- Spinal trauma
- Broken ribcage
- Herniated disks
It’s advised for any individual who is involved in a rear-end collision to seek immediate medical attention and contact a personal injury attorney as soon as possible.
What is the average settlement amount for a rear end car accident?
There are many different variables that influence the estimation of a rear-end collision settlement. Factors that will likely affect the settlement amount include:
- Injuries sustained
- Property damage
- Personal interference (wages lost, medical expenses, future medical expenses, immobility)
- Driving history
- Pain and suffering
- How many parties shared fault in the accident
- Location (settlement laws differ from state to state)
How long does a rear end car accident settlement take to resolve?
Before a settlement can be fully resolved, there’s a process to prove you are the party who is owed compensation resulting in a lengthy time frame. Each case is different but basically follow the same guidelines. Phases include Pleading, Discovery phase, Trail and possibly an Appeal. There is the choice to settle the case through insurance before achieving preliminary.
Small Claims: Small claims in which the accident was minor and damages were minimal usually become settled with insurance and can take up to 30-90 days to resolve. Now that the claimant has settled with insurance they can no longer sue the liable party.
Discovery Phase: In this phase each party gathers statements, documents, witnesses, specific timelines and any important facts that will benefit them to win the case. This phase typically takes up to 6 months to a year following the claim’s recording.
Mediation or Trial: After the Discovery phase the court will allow the parties to have and elective gathering and urge them to achieve resolution with the assistance of a neutral mediator. Thus, allowing them to skip the whole trial process. However, if both parties refuse to come to an agreement the case will go to trial and can take up to 2 years before even seeing the inside of a court room.
What if my rear end car accident injuries and vehicle damage are only minor?
Most of the time rear-end collisions are minor accidents leaving the drivers or passengers with little to no injuries and trivial property damage to the vehicles. Although, injuries and damage may be minor, they are still present and still require a course of action. First things first, you must always exchange insurance as well as contact information with the party involved. It’s not always necessary to contact the police if injures are unapparent and damage is minor however, if the other party is uncooperative in exchanging information it’s best to include law enforcement to enable you to acquire this data. In some cases, the accident may be minor however the victim may suffer from emotional stress and request compensation from the liable driver. This is another favorable reason why one would want to involve the police in a minor rear-end collision.
I got rear ended. How much money should I get?
Rear-end collision are the most widely recognized types of accidents. The amount and types of damages that occur during a rear-end collision can differ immensely. An average settlement for a rear-end collision is hard to place an exact number due to the various factors that go in to determining how much compensation should be owed. A settlement is hard to configure due to both palpable and impalpable expenses. Costs such as medical expenses and wages lost are easily calculated, however, determining how much pain and suffering is worth is a little more challenging. Other expenses to incorporate into a settlement include:
- Insurance costs
- Medical expenses
- Loss of income
- Legal fees
- Property damage
- Quality of life
There is no exact number to be given because each collision is different. Totaling up these damages and configuring how much money a victim may get will increase due to the severity of the accident. But generally an easy way to get some idea of estimating how much compensation you may be owed is to multiply direct expenses by 1.5 – 4. If your direct property damages were $1,000 your settlement estimation would be some area between $2,500 and $5,000.
Some example of rear-end settlements include:
- Rear-end victim suffered from neck injuries later requiring surgery. Settlement amount was $537,500 and $58,158 in Workers Compensation benefits.
- A couple was rear-ended and pushed into oncoming traffic suffering abdominal and spinal injuries. Their settlement amount was $2,331,075.
- Woman rear-ended by a sanitation truck suffering multiple injuries and a total of six surgeries. Settlement amount was $4 million.
Who is at fault when you get rear-ended?
Typically in rear-end accidents, it is the rear driver who tends to be found at fault. But this is not always the case! Liability is not automatically placed on the rear driver for many reasons and may find fault on the lead driver. Determining who is at fault is crucial because that will decide which driver will be liable for damages sustained from the collision. While trying to prove whom the negligent driver was and determine fault, you must understand how these types of accidents can happen. Reasons for being found at fault in a rear-end collision include:
- Tailgating too closely
- Stopping abruptly
- Distracted driving (cell phones)
- Failing to yield to the right of way vehicle
- Driving while intoxicated
- Brake light failures
- Road rage/purposely trying to get hit
- Failing to use turn signals.
I got rear-ended, will my insurance go up?
Every insurance company is different with different policies. So to get a straight yes or no answer it would need to come from your insurance provider. However, if you got rear-ended, your claim would be filed against the other drivers insurance due to the other driver being the at-fault party. This should not affect your insurance nor would you be liable since you were not found at-fault. This answer will also depend on how many accidents you have been involved in within a 3-5 year period.
What does it mean to be rear-ended?
To be involved in a rear-end collision involves another car crashing into the vehicles in front of them from the rear. Oftentimes these types of collisions are minor known as fender benders, however, they can also be extreme causing severe injuries. Even though it may appear there are no major damages to either parties vehicle, you still have a checklist of things to do after the accident. Steps to follow include:
- Making sure everyone involved is okay
- Contact law enforcement to file a police report
- Contact your insurance company
- Exchange insurance information and contact information with all parties involved
- Photograph all vehicles involved
- Seek a medical professional as soon as possible as a precaution
- Contact a personal injury attorney
Often, victims of rear-end collisions do not seek medical treatment due to the idea of a fender bender being minor. Although, the accident may seem minor, never fail to seek medical attention after a collision.