Lawsuit Info Center / Car Accident Lawsuits / Rear End Collision Settlement Guide

Rear End Collision Settlement Guide

Car accidents are always unexpected. When you are rear-ended by another vehicle, the collision can be even more surprising. Yet, rear-end collisions are among the most common types of auto accidents, making rear-end car accidents a top contributor to all highway accidents and injuries, causing 6.8% of all car accident fatalities nationwide.

Just in 2019, about 1.7 million rear-end collisions took place in the United States. These rear-end collisions caused 500,000 injuries and the death of 1,700 people. Even with rear-end collisions making up almost one-third of car accidents, each case is different. When you’ve been injured in a rear-end collision, many factors will affect how much compensation you will be entitled to. Let’s take a look at the process, how the facts of your case will affect average settlement amounts, the next steps to take, and other important details to know about rear-end collision settlements so you know what potential settlement options to expect.

Identifying Damages After a Rear-End Collision

No matter the extent of the damages, it’s essential to identify what has been damaged during the accident. Keep in mind, damages include injury to your person, property, or economic and non-economic consequences that negatively impact your daily life.

Right After A Rear-End Collision

After the accident, several vital steps are taken immediately to ensure a fair rear-end collision settlement. Taking the proper steps after you’ve been hit helps confirm the validity of any claims you make. As soon as the accident ends and you have moved safely out of the flow of traffic, you should:

  • Call law enforcement
  • Check for injuries
  • Document property damage and the scene
  • Get witness information
  • Obtain police report
  • Seek medical attention
  • Contact insurance company

Following these steps helps ensure no injuries or damages can be attributed to anything other than the accident, making your claim stronger and helping you get closer to the maximum settlement for your rear-end collision.

Common Injuries

Even a low-speed, rear-end crash can cause injuries with various levels of severity. You should go to the hospital for a check up, even if you think you are unhurt. Right after a crash, minor soreness could turn into a severe injury after a few days. For that reason, it is always safer to opt for an examination from a medical professional after an accident. You are more likely to receive compensation for your injuries if documented right away by a medical professional. Here are some of the common injuries:

  • Whiplash
  • Herniated discs
  • Concussion
  • Compression fractures
  • Broken bones
  • Sprains/strains
  • Organ damage
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Airbag or seatbelt injury
  • Lower back injury

Any of these injuries must be properly documented and diagnosed by a medical professional. Medical costs are part of what you can recover in a rear-end collision settlement.

Economic Damages

As the name implies, these are the things that have a direct financial impact on you and your family. This can be found in records easily obtained as evidence. Anything that comes out of your pocket directly due to the accident can be named as part of a rear-end accident settlement. 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
  • Cost of medical treatment

The bulk of economic damages are going to revolve around medical costs. Medical costs include ambulance rides, prescription drugs, hospital stays, doctor visits, and physical therapy. Make sure to keep careful records documenting any out-of-pocket expenses when it comes to medical costs, making it easier for you when you begin your claim.

Property damage, or damage to your car and belongings, is another part of economic damages that your insurance company will assess. Finally, the last piece is the monetary damages like lost wages. The level of lost income varies depending on your work and how the accident has affected it. Lost income includes wages lost due to the initial injury and the loss of future wages due to permanent loss of capacity to do your specific job. Understandably, this type of loss is hard to recover from financially.That’s why it’s important you receive an adequate rear-end collision settlement to restore you to pre-accident wealth.

Non-Economic Damages

Non-economic damages are the intangible things lost because of the collision, commonly called “pain and suffering.” These damages are hard to estimate, and one of the most common ways to calculate non-economic damages are to multiply the economic damage with a multiplier from one to five. The more severe the damages  the higher the multiplier used.

The overall violence of the crash determines the multiplier used. t The more severe the crash, the bigger the multiplier will be. For example, if you were in a rear-end collision with severe injury, leaving you unable to work for a year, the severity of the crash could result in a multiplier as high as four, resulting in a larger rear-end accident settlement.

Some other factors leading to increased non-economic payments might include:

  • 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

All the damages you suffer should be combined for a fair and reasonable settlement figure when you start negotiating a payout. It would also be helpful if you write a demand letter to the other party’s insurance company, but consider waiting until the treatment has been completed or until the doctor can see an end-of-treatment coming, as the full-picture will help you get the total amount you deserve.

No matter if the accident is minor or severe, your claim or lawsuit benefits from having a copy of the police report. If the other driver was negligent, it is likely noted in the police report.

Car Accident Settlement

Determining Fault in Rear-End Collisions

Fault is determined at the accident scene by examining the evidence showing who caused the collision. Usually, police are responsible for this and produce an accident report that states the circumstances of the crash and who law enforcement named the responsible party. This is crucial for a rear-end accident settlement, as it will help decide the size of a car accident payout.

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.

In establishing who is at fault, state and federal laws, as well as insurance companies, will strongly favor the driver hit from the rear.  This is because driving rules dictate that it is the responsibility of all drivers to follow from a safe distance. How do you determine this? A safe distance means enough to slow and stop without hitting anyone else, showing you are not distracted and paying attention to the road.

Other Factors

Several factors may affect the determination of fault in a rear-end collision. Poor weather conditions, slick roads, and poor visibility can contribute to a rear-end accident, though the driver in the back will probably still be found partially at fault, as they should adjust their driving to the conditions on the road.

Missing or damaged road signs or unmarked construction zones are other factors that may change the determination of fault in a rear-end car accident settlement. Anything on the road that is out of the control of both drivers can affect who is found to be at fault, but the best practice is to always pay attention while behind the wheel.

Another factor that determines the fault in a rear-end car accident concerns whether any laws were broken that resulted directly in the accident. For example, if a car makes a left turn at a red light into traffic and is then struck from behind by a car with right of way, the car in the rear may not be completely at fault. Take a look at additional factors that can affect the decision about liability:

  • Brake checking the driver behind you 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
  • Driver negligence

If struck in a rear-end collision, the good news is that liability is often a straightforward matter. Unless the accident involves one of these scenarios, it is most likely the tailing driver will be liable.

Documenting Your Rear-End Collision

The importance of obtaining the proper documentation to present as part of the claim you make in a rear-end collision settlement cannot be stressed enough. Documentation is proof that your injuries and the costs associated with treatment were directly caused by the rear-end collision. There are several essential steps to document your accident correctly:

At the Scene of the Collision

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 move. Also, take up close pictures of vehicle damage. If in doubt, photograph it. Photographic evidence is key when showing the facts of the case, and the more photos you have of the actual collision scene before the vehicles are moved, the better the evidence will support the rear-end car accident settlement.

Rear-end collision settlement damages can vary from minor bumper damage with no injuries to a totaled vehicle with serious personal injuries Many factors determine how much a rear- end collision settlement may be worth,and all of them need proper documentation to be considered valid. In addition to photos, you will want to have documentation showing:

  • Type of injuries sustained
  • Severity of injuries
  • Loss of wages
  • Long-term effects of injuries
  • Damage to your personal property (i.e., your vehicle)
  • Medical expenses incurred as a result of the rear-end collision

Be sure to save and safely store all receipts, invoices, medical records, and other documentation related to the crash and its aftereffects. You can usually have your doctor send your medical file to the court with any diagnosis and treatment plans.

If you have more serious injuries, then you might consider keeping a journal to document the day-to-day effects of the injury and how you are feeling. With injuries that go beyond the physical, keeping a journal showing your state of mind can help show the pain and suffering that a rear-end car accident has had on you, which makes claiming non-economic damages somewhat easier.

The bottom line is that any documentation you can provide to show that you are the injured party will impact the average payout for a rear-end collision.

Average Settlements and Examples

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. . The settlements will likely be larger if you were hit from behind while on a motorcycle or if the vehicle is larger, like a semi-truck; the circumstances of the incident will usually lead to a larger rear-end car accident settlement.

If you’re wondering what the average rear-end car accident settlement amount is, you might be surprised to learn that the average payout falls between $3,000 and $20,000. This is a baseline for a minor accident. Remember, a more serious accident will have a higher payout, and some of the worst accidents that result in injury have received settlements worth seven figures. Every rear-end collision settlement is different, and the amounts received are heavily influenced by the facts of the case, making documentation crucial.

Real-Life Examples of Settlements

Below are a few real-life rear-end collision settlement examples. These can give you an idea of what your car accident settlement might look like.

$400,000 Rear-End Collision Settlement: Husband and wife were in a rear-end collision. The husband had a herniated disk while the wife suffered whiplash. But the at-fault driver’s insurance company initially refused to compensate the medical expenses. Following a demand letter and extensive mediation, a settlement was awarded to the couple to cover medical expenses, property damage, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

$120,000 Rear-End Collision Settlement: 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 Rear-End Collision Settlement: 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.

$25,000 Rear-End Collision Settlement: Client was rear-ended at a stop sign. While damage at the scene was minor, he awoke the next day with serious neck and lower back pain. He suffered from multiple herniated discs. His medical bills, including extensive physical therapy, was paid for by the at-fault driver’s insurance company.

$75,000 Rear-End Collision Settlement: A vehicle failed to stop at the intersection of a major highway and rear-ended a woman at the stoplight. The woman suffered neck and back pain and went to the emergency room. 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.

Negotiating with Insurance Companies

To receive compensation in a rear-end collision settlement, the first step usually is to file a car accident claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company. It is possible the claim will need to be litigated in court, but most rear-end collision settlements end up settling out of court, as everyone wants to find a resolution as quickly as possible. Going to court is expensive and can take weeks to years to settle depending on the severity and complexity of the case. Filing auto accident lawsuits and taking cases to court is usually not necessary in a rear-end collision settlement.

Typically, the insurance company for the at-fault driver makes a rear-end collision settlement offer 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.

Send a Demand Letter

When cases are straightforward, one way to negotiate with the insurance company is to send them a demand letter. This is usually the best in cases with clear facts or relatively low amounts of compensation being requested.

A demand letter should include evidence of the severity of the car accident and how the event has affected you. This is where your documentation comes in. You should send your medical bills, treatment plans, evaluation of property damages, and documentation about how any injuries affected work to the insurance company. Along with this, you need to write a summary outlining the facts of the case and include an amount of compensation for your rear-end car collision settlement based on the evidence and any mitigating factors relevant to the claim.

Don’t accept an offer that you feel is unfair! You should know what you are willing to accept and what you believe is fair and reasonable when you send a demand letter. Also, remember that some cases will not be solved with a demand letter and will end up going to court, at which point you might want to consider speaking to an experienced attorney.

Key Facts to Remember

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-truck settlements where a trucker rear-ends a smaller car 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.

You shouldn’t be afraid of going back and forth a few times with insurance to ensure you get a fair settlement amount because of the multitude of factors that go into a rear-end collision settlement.

If you can’t reach a suitable settlement by negotiating with the insurance carrier and still want to pursue a settlement, it might be time to consider the need for legal assistance.

When to Consider Legal Help

If you reach a point where you are unsure how to proceed with your claim, you should consider the help of a legal professional. All car accidents are different and an auto accident attorney in your state is well-equipped to give you an accurate idea of what your rear-end collision settlement may be.

Most offer free consultations and will give you a case evaluation to see how much your settlement might be. You can get advice about your case and learn if you have a case worth pursuing. You can also use this opportunity to find the right lawyer for you. Personal injury lawyers often work on a contingency plan where you don’t need to pay upfront. A percentage of any settlement is allocated to your attorney for fees and services rendered.

Simply put, there is no average rear-end settlement amount that can be provided in the case of a rear-end collision. There are many factors involved, 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 accident attorney who can go over the specifics of your case with you.


If you were in a rear-end accident and are seeking a settlement for your case, remember that while the average claim pays $3,000 to $20,000, these numbers do not accurately depict the reality of rear-end collision settlement values. The facts of your case have the most influence on how the claim you file will play out.

Remember what to do right after the collision, keep meticulous records and documentation of related costs, and negotiate for what you believe you deserve, with or without a lawyer. Restoration is not always easy after a car accident, but knowing the process and how to proceed should help you get the compensation that you deserve when you are injured in a rear-end collision.

Frequently Asked Questions about car accident settlements

Rear End Collision Settlements

Every auto accident is different and there are many unique factors that go into determining how much your rear end collision settlement will be, since the range of injuries one can sustain from being involved in a rear-end collision is wide. Depending on the severity of your injuries and property damage will determine if you receive more or less compensation. The factors that will go into your car accident settlement are:

The pain & suffering multiplier will range from 1-5 depending on how severe your injuries were. Minor whiplash injuries may have a multiple of 1-2, whereas broken bones and traumatic brain injuries (both of which are unfortunately very common in rear end car accidents) can result in larger pain & suffering multipliers.

The amount of your rear end collision settlement may also be affected by the type of insurance policy you have, and the state laws concerning auto insurance requirements and fault in the state where the rear end crash occurred. 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 addition to taking pictures of all vehicles and road conditions, you should rapidly seek medical treatment at the earliest opportunity. 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, it’s usually a good idea to contact a personal injury attorney – most will offer a free initial consultation and case evaluation.

Car accidents can leave you frazzled and confused as to what steps to take next. If you and the other party involved are not experiencing any injuries and neither party has any vehicle damage, it may not be necessary to contact an attorney. However, it can be frustrating dealing with other drivers insurance companies and although neither party is experiencing any injuries directly after the accident, it’s possible for injuries to develop over the next few days after following a collision. There is no harm in contacting an attorney in this situation and in the end, might actually benefit you by covering all your bases and leaving no room for error. In the scenario where neither party is injured and neither party has property damage, it’s best to thoroughly document everything by exchanging all the necessary information including insurance info, taking pictures of the accident and documenting any previous damage to the vehicles. The following steps to take would be to get examined by a medical professional to see if any injuries are actually present as well as contacting an attorney to find out what your options are. Since legal counselors are so educated about their subject matters, they can give important advice about what to do in your specific situation.

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.

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.

what to do after a rear end collision

Car Accident Settlement

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About Shelby Stone-Huff
Shelby Stone-Huff is an experienced writer in the automotive and law fields and brings her knowledge of both together for Lawsuit Info Center. She is proud to help others understand the legalities of automotive accidents through the knowledge she has obtained through experience.