Were you in a rear end collision car accident and think you may be entitled to a rear end collision settlement? If so, it is common to wonder what you should do next. You may also be wondering who is responsible for your accident damages and what a typical rear end crash is worth. Determining a rear end collision settlement is not always cut and dry, so read on to see what might be in your future after a rear end accident.

Rear End Collision Statistics

Rear end collisions are among the most common types of auto accidents. In 2019, about 1.7 million rear-end collisions took place in the United States. Of these nearly two million accidents, about 1,700 people died and another 500,000 were injured, making rear end car accidents a top contributor to all highway accidents, injuries, and fatalities nationwide. However, even though rear end collisions make up around one-third of all accidents in the US, the outcome of each case will be different due to the specific details of the crash. Your rear end collision settlement is based on many factors.

What Causes Most Rear End Collisions?

The most common explanation for a rear end crash is the driver in the rear is 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. Speed can also play a role in these situations, as it takes longer to apply the brakes the faster you are going. Inability to brake in time can result in a rear end collision.

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 obscured by fog can cause many serious accidents. However, it is the responsibility of all drivers to drive safely. If a driver hits you from behind, he or she may be liable for your accident injuries.

What To Do After a Rear End Crash

what to do after a rear end collision

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 many injuries, like broken bones, facial lacerations, soft-tissue damage 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 it is 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. If you were rear ended by a semi truck or another commercial vehicle, make sure to get their commercial insurance information.

Who Is At Fault in a Rear End Collision 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:

  • Unfavorable road conditions (icy, uncleared snow, potholes)
  • Poor visibility due to weather conditions
  • Missing or broken stop signs and stop lights
  • Unsafe or unmarked work areas

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.

What Factors Determine a Rear End Collision Settlement Amount?

Economic Damages

The easiest aspect of your claim to calculate is the economic damages. As the name implies, these are the things that have a direct financial impact on you and your family. Common examples include the following:

  • Deductibles and other health insurance payments
  • Cost of damages to your vehicle or other personal property
  • Loss of income from missed days of work
  • Late penalties and fees for missed bills
  • Funeral expenses
  • Estimates of future expenses related to injuries

Your attorney can work with your doctor to ensure you get all the documentation you need. If you do not yet have a lawyer, then be sure to save and safely store all receipts, invoices, medical records and other documentation related to the crash and its aftereffects.

Non-Economic Damages

Also known as “pain and suffering,” non-economic damages are a lot more difficult to estimate. One of the most common ways to calculate this amount is to add up all the economic damages and multiply the amount by a number ranging from one to five. The more severe the damages caused by the crash, the higher the multiplier used. Here are a few other factors that may lead to increased non-economic payments:

  • Gross negligence on the part of the driver, the company that hired them, the manufacturer or the insurance company
  • Loss of a loved one
  • Development of permanent, life-changing disabilities
  • Development of PTSD or other psychological problems
  • Presence of dependents who relied on the support of the injured or deceased person
  • Dash cam footage or consistent witness statements that make determining fault easy

Rear end collision damages can vary from minor bumper damage with no injuries to a totaled vehicle with serious personal injuries, such as whiplash, back and neck injuries, head injuries, brain injuries, lacerations and other injuries. There are many factors that determine how much a rear end collision settlement may be worth, such as:

  • Type of injuries sustained
  • Severity of injuries
  • If injuries incurred affect your daily living or ability to work
  • Long term effects of injuries
  • Pain and suffering in addition to your physical injuries
  • Damage that occurred to your personal property (ie your vehicle)
  • Medical expenses incurred as a result of the rear end collision
  • Who was at fault for the car accident
  • Usage of seatbelts

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. 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.

Your Liability for a Rear-End Collision

If you have been hit in a rear-end collision, the good news is that liability is often a straightforward matter. In most cases, the car in the rear is to blame for the accident. If that is the case, you stand a good chance of getting compensation after getting in a rear end collision.

However, there are some circumstances where the driver in the front could be found partially at fault; this could affect the compensation you receive for your accident injuries:

  • Brake checking the driver in the rear by slamming on the brakes for no reason
  • Suddenly reversing
  • Driving with a flat tire or a mechanical problem
  • Driving distracted and then slamming on the brakes too late to avoid an object or pedestrian in the road
  • Failing to repair a broken brake light

Unless the accident involves one of those scenarios, it is most likely the tailing driver will be found liable.

Property Damage

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. You may also need to consider damage to items inside the vehicle, such as the cost to replace children’s car seats that were present or possibly in use at the time of the crash.

Medical and Related Expenses

There are many potential medical costs that can be incurred due to a car accident. The at-fault party and/or their insurance company may be responsible to cover the following expenses and more:

  • Ambulance ride
  • Prescription drugs
  • Hospital stay
  • Doctor visits
  • Physical therapy
  • Physical and mental pain/suffering

Lost Income

Lost wages are a substantial factor when considering your potential damages 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.

If you would like a general idea of how much money you may be entitled to, try our free online Rear End Collision Settlement Calculator.

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. Getting rear ended on a motorcycle, for example, will often result in much more serious injuries and will usually mean a larger settlement.


Compensation for Rear End Collision Injuries

Determining liability in a rear end collision settlement will consider all the previously mentioned scenarios and others. The ability of the driver in front to receive rear end collision injuries compensation will depend upon many factors. In addition to compensation for physical injuries, drivers may also be entitled to payment to cover pain and suffering. Pain and suffering after a rear end collision can include both physical and mental trauma that was caused from the accident. If any of your injuries prevent you from working or affect your daily routines and habits, you may be additionally compensated for that. A personal injury attorney can assist in analyzing specific accident factors to determine liability and potential compensation in your case.

What are typical injuries that happen from a rear end collision?

    • Whiplash – This is the most common injury that occurs from a rear end collision. Whiplash occurs when the head is rapidly jerked forwards and backwards and may result in neck pain and stiffness. You should always consult your doctor after whiplash occurs to determine the severity and necessary treatment.
    • Broken or fractured bones – It is not uncommon for a driver who is rear ended to suffer from breaks to their wrists and arms because they are likely gripping the steering wheel at the time of the impact. In high impact crashes, it is also possible to break leg bones or ribs. 
    • Back, neck, and spinal cord damage – Even at lower speeds, an impact can have a serious effect on your spine. A herniated disk occurs when the connective tissue between your vertebrae becomes damaged and is moved out of place. This is only one type of injury that can affect your spine and back and should be assessed by a doctor. 
    • Head and brain injuries – Concussions or broken facial bones may occur if your head hits the steering wheel or another part of your car. Brain injuries can also be caused by the sudden movement of your head and while not very common, these injuries are often serious. 
    • Soft tissue injury – Soft tissue injuries are damage of muscles, ligaments and tendons. This generally happens when your body is suddenly jolted by the force of the impact. The end result is typically sprains or contusions which can cause pain and swelling of the affected area. 
    • Airbag or seatbelt inflicted injury – Even though airbags and seatbelts are meant to save our lives, this doesn’t mean that utilization of these safety features won’t inflict some damage in the event of a crash. Seat belts can cause bruise and lacerations to the torso and neck. When an airbag deploys, it may cause burns, contusions, or breaks to your face.
    • Death – Wrongful death of driver and/or passengers is an unfortunate reality of rear end collisions.  

Rear End Collision Settlement Compensation 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 to years to settle depending on the severity and complexity of the case. Filing lawsuits and taking cases to court is usually not necessary in a rear end crash case. Negligence in these accidents is generally 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. 

A personal injury attorney will be invaluable in the investigation process, as the details of the accident are collected and reviewed. At this point, your lawyer may file a lawsuit on your behalf against the insurance company or the at-fault driver if they were uninsured at the time of the crash. If you yourself were not insured or did not have uninsured motorist coverage, it is a good idea to enlist the help of a lawyer to get you compensation for the rear end collision.

When Will I Receive Compensation for a Rear End Collision After an Agreement is Reached?

After reaching a settlement agreement, you might be wondering how long it will take until you receive your compensation. For cases with minor crashes and minor damages, cases typically take 30 to 90 days. If your case goes to court, it could take years for a settlement to be reached. After signing the release for a rear-end collision, your attorney will return the signed copy to the insurance adjuster. It will be reviewed and a check will be sent back to your attorney within weeks. After your attorney has taken their portion of fees from the settlement check, you should receive it within 2 to 6 weeks.

What Determines the Final Compensation?

There are several different factors that contribute to the final settlement value you are awarded. This payout can range anywhere from just a few thousand to several million dollars. Here are some of the factors affecting compensation when looking at rear-end collision settlement examples:

  • Vehicles: If the vehicle rear-ended is much smaller than the following vehicle, this can cause more severe damages. Semi-trucks rear-ending smaller cars is an extreme example of high costs associated with this.
  • Negligence: If the rear-end collision was a result of negligence and led to serious damages and injuries, courts tend to be more likely to award higher non-economic damages.
  • Parties: When a company is liable, judges often tend to mete out harsher punishments. These cases most often involve gross negligence.
  • Speed: Even small vehicles can cause serious damages to larger ones if the driver is speeding. Speeding is also often tied to negligence, which may increase payouts.
  • Injuries: The more severe a person’s injuries, the higher the likelihood of obtaining bigger payouts. This is true even when the result is death.

Average Settlement Amount for Rear End Collision Injuries

Simply put, there is no average amount that can be provided for settlements in the case of a rear end collision. There are many factors involved, as previously discussed in the article, but it is also important to consider the insurance companies and policies that come into play. The best way to get a general idea of how much you may be able to expect from a payout would be to speak with an attorney who can go over the specifics of your case with you. 

Rear End Collision Settlement Amount Examples

Below are some real life rear end collision settlement examples. These can give you an idea of what your car accident 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 may be.

  • $400,000: Husband and wife were both in their vehicle at the time of a rear end collision. Both passengers sustained injuries, but the at-fault driver’s insurance company initially refused to acknowledge and compensate the medical expenses. Following a demand letter and extensive mediation, a total of $400,000 was awarded to the couple to cover medical expenses, property damage, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
  • $120,000: Client was involved in a multi-car accident where she was hit from the rear by a drunk driver. The client suffered from a serious lower back injury that required surgery, therapy and caused long term pain and suffering. 
  • $90,000: Client was rear ended by a pickup truck. This broke her driver’s seat and led to a rotator cuff injury. She was compensated for property damage, medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering due to the accident. 
  • $25,000: Client slowed down in traffic and was rear ended by a large SUV. Diagnosed with whiplash and soft tissue injuries. His case was settled within 30 days by the insurance company. 
  • $25,000: Client was rear ended at a stop sign; while damage at the scene was not major, he awoke the next day with serious neck and low back pain. His medical bills, including extensive physical therapy, was paid for by the at-fault driver’s insurance company.
  • $90 Million: A truck driver who was allegedly speeding 20 MPH over the legal limit and had been awake for more than 24 hours crashed into the back of a limousine. The limousine had slowed due to congestion. The impact killed one man and injured several others. One of the victims was a comedian. He suffered traumatic brain injuries, broken ribs and a broken leg. The entertainer reportedly received an estimated $90 million dollars from Walmart, the driver’s employer.
  • $75,000: According to one law firm, a vehicle failed to stop in time at the intersection of a major highway and rear-ended a woman waiting at the stoplight. The woman suffered neck and back pain and went to the emergency room. While there, she also learned she was pregnant and had developed complications. She underwent surgery to fix herniated disks. The woman sued the driver, but he did not respond to the lawsuit. She then sued her insurance company based on uninsured motorist coverage.
  • $13,586: Another woman was rear-ended at a stoplight, but the accident was allegedly minor. In spite of this, the woman sued the other driver. She alleged pain from a cervical sprain and a herniated disk. However, it was possible that this was caused by previous, unrelated surgeries. The law firm represented the defendant in this case, and he paid only economic damages for medical expenses.

Final Thoughts On Rear End Collision Settlements

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. Lawsuit Info Center can help you receive the rear end collision injury compensation you deserve.

FAQ About rear end car accidents

After being involved in a collision and seeking medical attention, you discover you have whiplash. Depending on how severe your whiplash may be will help determine how you can estimate a settlement value for your whiplash. Oftentimes an attorney will total up your medical expenses as well as your wages lost and property damages. Then depending on the severity and pain level you can multiple the sum of all the other damages, you can multiply the pain and suffering factor in and get an estimate for your individual case.

Every accident is different and there are many unique factors that go into determining how much compensation you may be owed. You can sustain many different types of injuries from being involved in a rear-end collision. Depending on the severity of your injuries and property damage will determine if you receive more or less compensation. The recoverable amount can sometimes be affected by the type of insurance policy you have. If you were found at fault, you may not be able to receive any compensation. In order to maximize the amount of compensation you receive will also depend on how you document what happens following the accident. In order to receive maximum compensation, you should rapidly seek medical treatment at the earliest opportunity. This begins the documentation process. Be sure to adhere to your specialist’s instructions and continue seeking treatment without long periods of time to pass between treatments. Be sure to file a police report and once the mishap is reported, contact your personal injury attorney. A lawyer will deal with your lawful issues and fight for as much compensation while enabling you to recuperate and concentrate on self-wellbeing.

When it comes to determining what a fair settlement value for whiplash is you must understand that whiplash is a soft tissue injury with generally a quick recovery time. Although, whiplash can be extremely discomforting and painful, compensation for whiplash injuries can range anywhere from $2,000- $10,000. In more severe whiplash cases that require rehabilitation and physical therapy, the settlement value can be as high as $30,000.

One example of a whiplash case settlement involved a rear end collision that is commonly how whiplash is sustained due to the sudden back and forth jolt. The driver who was rear-ended was diagnosed with whiplash and spent a month receiving physical therapy treatments costing $4,300 in medical expenses. She also missed four workdays costing her $800 in lost income and factoring in pain and suffering brought her settlement to $13,700.

Whiplash is a common neck injury after a car accident but filing a claim for compensation for this injury can be problematic, as insurance companies tend to think that whiplash injuries, which cannot be viewed on x-ray, tend to be exaggerated.

The best way to ensure you will get compensated for your whiplash injury is to get to a doctor immediately after the crash if you feel even a twinge of pain or discomfort in your neck or back. Many serious neck and back injuries do not produce symptoms for several hours or days after the crash.

Your doctor, being aware of your accident, will be looking for signs of a whiplash injury, and will be noting these signs in your medical records. If you wait a week after the accident to see your doctor, the insurance company will contend the whiplash was caused by another injury.

A car accident is a car accident no matter how minor. Now, the severity of the accident comes into play when dealing with the damage to your vehicle and the injuries you suffered. But, what if a minor accident led to minor injuries? Don’t you think you should still be compensated for those injuries even though the crash was deemed to be minor? Of course you should. So, what’s a fair settlement for a minor car accident?

A minor car accident could very well wind up costing you a small amount of money for health and repair costs, but you should be able to recoup that money when you are not the person responsible for the crash. A settlement for a minor car crash could wind up being in the thousands of dollars depending on your injuries, the nature of the crash, and the damage that was caused.

It is nearly impossible to predict the settlement value of a minor car accident without moving forward with a lawsuit or claim. That’s why you should always have an attorney by your side when involved in even the most minor of car accidents. Minor car accident settlements can be as little as $50,000 and as high as $350,000. When all is said and done, your settlement value could very well be triple what your injuries cost to treat at the hospital.

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