You’re stopped at a red light bopping to your favorite jam when suddenly you hear brakes screeching behind you. The next thing you know, you’ve been rear ended. What should you do?
Rear ended accidents are among the most common types of traffic incidents in the United States. While some rear ended collisions only result in property damage to the vehicles involved, others result in the one or both of the parties being injured.
If a party was rear ended in a car accident, they may have the right to seek compensation (known as compensatory damages) from the other party’s auto insurer for the injuries they incurred and the pain and suffering they experienced.
How much is a rear end accident worth? That depends on the circumstances of the collision and nature of your injuries. But there are other factors that could influence the amount of your rear end accident settlement that are completely in your hands.
Learn what to do in a rear end accident to maximize your settlement offer from the following sections.
Important Steps to Take After a Rear Ended Collision
By taking the right steps after a rear ended collision, you will be setting yourself up for success during the auto insurance claims process.
If you were just in a rear ended accident, remember the first priority should always be the safety of the parties involved. Filing your insurance claim or contacting a rear end accident attorney can wait until everyone has received the medical attention they need.
Review the steps to take after a rear end car accident from the sections below.
Call the Police
After a rear ended accident, you may be wondering: Is it necessary to call the police? This is especially true if the accident seemingly only resulted in minor property damage.
While it’s generally not required for police to be called when accidents cause no more than $1,000 of property damage and no ostensible injuries, it’s mandatory for police to be called in all other scenarios.
From a legal standpoint, it’s better to err on the side of caution and make a call to the police. At the very least, it can help ensure a police report is available should the insurance company need one for its investigation. In most cases, you should call the police even if the other party admitted fault.
Additionally, by contacting the police, emergency personnel may be called to the scene, which can help ensure anyone requiring medical attention has the option to be taken to the emergency room by ambulance if needed.
One thing you should avoid doing at all costs is downplaying your injuries or discussing the accident with anyone other than the police or first responders.
Document the Incident
Once things have begun to settle down, it would be a good idea to collect important details from the scene of the accident. For example, you may want to take note of the date and time of the incident, and how the incident occurred.
Obtaining the contact and insurance information of the other party and any passengers they had also would be helpful. If there were witnesses to your rear ended accident, you should try to obtain their contact information as well in the event the insurer needs to speak with them to confirm the details surrounding the incident.
Finally, get as much photographic evidence as you can. Taking pictures of your injuries, the property damage to the vehicles, and the location where the accident occurred could help prove your case to the insurer.
Seek Medical Attention
After the stress and trauma of a rear ended collision, your instinct may be to want to return to the comfort of your home and be with your family, even if you are hurting physically. You may be questioning: Is it necessary to see a doctor after a car accident?
While we definitely empathize with the desire to minimize or ignore your rear end collision injuries out of overwhelm, we wouldn’t recommend skipping a visit to the doctor for a couple reasons. First, the longer you wait to seek medical attention after a car accident, the less likely the insurer is to believe the injuries you incurred are from your rear ended accident. Second, by delaying your medical care, you are putting yourself in harm’s way, as many injuries require urgent treatment.
Remember that even though it may not seem like you’re injured, injuries from car accidents often don’t become apparent until later, since adrenaline — which usually floods your body during a car accident — is known to temporarily mask pain.
File Insurance Claim
If you plan to seek compensation for property damage to your vehicle or compensatory damages for your rear end accident injuries, you will need to file a claim with the insurance company.
How long after a car accident do you have to file a claim in Indiana? You have two years from the date of the accident (or two years from the date you discovered your injuries or reasonably should have discovered them) to file your claim.
Does that mean you should wait that long? Absolutely not. While the insurer would probably be ecstatic if you were to postpone filing your claim since it would give them cause to not pay you a settlement, it would put you at a major disadvantage.
With that being said, not everyone involved in a rear ended accident will be entitled to a settlement from the insurer. To find out your eligibility for a settlement, you will need to know your level of responsibility for the accident.
What determines who is at fault for an Indiana traffic accident? We go over how fault is determined in the next section.
How Is Rear End Accident Fault Determined?
Indiana is what is known as a fault state, which means only parties who are less than 51% at fault for the rear end car accident will be eligible for a settlement from the at-fault party’s insurer.
Indiana also abides by a negligence standard called modified comparative fault. With this system, your final settlement will be reduced by your percentage of fault for the car accident. For example, if the insurance company’s investigation determined your level of fault to be 10%, your settlement generally would be reduced by 10%.
By allowing for partial fault in a car accident, Indiana helps ensure one party isn’t blamed for an entire traffic incident when multiple parties were responsible for it.
Why Should I Get a Lawyer for a Rear End Car Accident?
While there’s no requirement for you to work with a rear end accident attorney to file an auto insurance claim, doing so can’t hurt. What are the downsides when nothing needs to be paid up front? Only if we win your case will we charge our usual attorney fees — and these fees will be taken out of your final settlement.
Remember insurance companies are not your friend, as they will always be looking for reasons to lowball you or deny your claim altogether. By working with our rear end accident attorneys, you will be able to rest easy knowing your insurance claim is being handled by a firm with a phenomenal track record of success.
Learn about the benefits of working with a rear end accident attorney from the following sections.
They’ll Help You Navigate the Claims Process
From arranging your medical care to dealing with difficult claims adjusters, the auto claims process can be a drain on your time and energy if you decide to go about it on your own.
While you likely will need to be the one to file an initial claim with the insurer, your involvement in the claims process can end there if you opt to work with a rear end accident attorney.
By having an attorney in your corner, the guesswork will be taken out of the claims process, and you’ll have the guidance to make all the right moves from the get-go.
They’ll Manage Your Medical Care
If you are seeking compensatory damages for your rear end accident injuries, chances are that you’ll require an initial medical evaluation and long-term medical treatment in order to both recover from your injuries and prove their severity to the insurer.
Should you go to the ER after a car accident? We always recommend seeking medical attention after a car accident, whether by visiting an ER, urgent care facility or physician’s office. You ideally will do this within a week or two of your accident, but if your injuries are severe, we would encourage you to make an immediate trip to the ER, possibly even by ambulance from the scene of the accident.
Once you’re evaluated by a medical provider and prescribed a treatment plan, your attorney generally will be able to arrange and manage your medical care by setting you up with physical therapists, chiropractors or any other providers you were asked to see.
Remember to stay consistent with your treatment plan. Doing so could help you receive a higher payout for a rear end accident.
They’ll Negotiate With the Insurer on Your Behalf
An essential element of the auto claims process is negotiating with the claims adjuster. As we previously mentioned, the insurer will always be looking for reasons to cast doubt on the validity of your claim so they can pay you less. By having a rear ended accident attorney in your corner — who has the experience and skills to compellingly argue your case — negotiations are more likely to culminate in a favorable rear end accident settlement.
For a favorable settlement, it may be necessary to go back and forth with the claims adjuster on many occasions, which can be both tedious and time-consuming. Luckily, this is your attorney’s job, so you will not have to be involved. Your involvement will simply entail either accepting or denying the settlement offer presented to you by your attorney. If you’re dissatisfied with the offer, your attorney will return to the negotiating table.
They’ll Help You Secure a Favorable Rear End Accident Settlement
As a personal injury firm, our main concern is securing you a settlement that fairly and reasonably compensates you for your rear end accident injuries and pain and suffering. We will work tirelessly to achieve this.
Having worked on countless cases involving rear ended accidents, we know how to finesse the claims adjuster into offering you the settlement you deserve. If you are dissatisfied with the settlement offered to you, and we’re unable to negotiate a better settlement, we can help you take the insurer to court to attempt to collect more in compensatory damages and possibly even punitive damages.
Remember we handle all of this at no upfront cost to you!
What Are the Most Common Rear End Collision Injuries?
Rear end collision injuries span a wide spectrum. Some can be mild, affecting only the soft tissues of the neck and back. Others can be severe, affecting the spinal column or brain.
The only way to know for certain the nature and seriousness of your injuries is to consult with a medical professional.
In the following sections, we provide a rundown of the most common rear end collision injuries. Keep in mind this list is not comprehensive. In other words, you could have injuries from a rear end collision even if your injury is not specifically mentioned.
Whiplash & Other Neck Injuries
By far, the most common injury parties experience after a rear ended accident is whiplash, which is caused by a sudden and forced jerk of the head.
While whiplash and other neck injuries sometimes can resolve on their own within a few days with self-care measures, it’s more common for them to last a prolonged period of time and require consistent medical treatment from a physical therapist or chiropractor.
Back injuries from a car accident also are common. For example, you may experience back strains and spasms.
Back injuries can range from mild to severe, and they can worsen if not treated promptly. They also can significantly limit mobility, sometimes making it difficult to even stand, let alone complete strenuous tasks.
Spinal Column Injuries
Spinal column injuries can be extreme, sometimes even causing partial or full paralysis. They generally require immediate medical attention.
That said, there are less severe spinal column injuries, such as slipped or herniated discs — which can be difficult to detect since they don’t always produce symptoms. This, however, does not mean they shouldn’t be treated, as serious complications can arise if they’re not.
Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBIs)
Other types of injuries that should not be taken lightly are any injuries involving the brain, or traumatic brain injuries (TBIs). The most common type of TBI is a concussion. If you believe you are showing symptoms of a concussion or another TBI, it’s crucial you seek medical care immediately.
Signs of a TBI include headaches localized to one side of the head, memory loss, confusion, dizziness, fatigue, slurred speech, blurred or double vision, a change in sleeping habits, and light and sound sensitivity.
Rear ended accidents can cause bones to break in multiple areas of the body, including the pelvis, face, hands, arms, ribs and even legs. If you suspect one or more broken bones, it is vital to be evaluated by a medical professional as soon as you can, if not immediately.
Some broken bones resolve on their own with self-care measures, whereas others may require surgery or a physician to reset the bone.
How Much Are Rear End Accident Settlements?
There is no way to accurately provide an estimate of how much your rear end accident is worth without knowing about the circumstances that caused the accident, the severity of your injuries and the medical bills you accrued, among other things.
Settlements for rear ended collisions that resulted in only minor injuries tend to be around $2,000 to $3,000.
Settlements for rear ended collisions that resulted in moderate injuries could be anywhere from $5,000 to $25,000 or more.
Settlements for rear ended collisions that resulted in severe injuries could be anywhere from $50,000 to $100,000 or more.
Wrongful death settlements for rear ended collisions that resulted in a party passing away could be anywhere from $100,000 to $1 million or more.
How Long Does It Take to Settle a Rear End Accident?
The question on most claimants’ minds is: When should I expect my settlement check?
Unfortunately, it’s not a question with an easy answer, as there is no set amount of time for settling rear ended accident claims. Uncomplicated claims that don’t require an extensive investigation could potentially be settled within a few weeks, but most claims take at least several months to settle, if not a year or longer.
What Causes Most Rear End Accidents?
While rear ended accidents can be the result of innocent errors, they more frequently occur because of poor driving habits or perilous external conditions.
The most common culprits in rear ended accidents are:
● Distracted driving (e.g., texting, eating, doing makeup while driving)
● Aggressive driving (e.g., tailgating, road rage)
● Fast driving
● Driving while impaired (e.g., drowsy due to lack of sleep, under the influence of alcohol or drugs)
● Hazardous weather (e.g., rain, slow, sleet)
By understanding what causes most rear ended accidents and avoiding these things, you can help ensure your safety and the safety of others on the road.
FAQs: Rear End Car Accidents
We hope you’ve found our article on rear ended accidents helpful so far. To address some of the questions our article did not cover, we’ve included an FAQs section below.
Is the tailgating driver always at fault in rear ended accidents?
You might be surprised to learn the tailgating driver isn’t always at fault in rear ended accidents; however, it is the more likely scenario, since drivers generally are required by law to maintain a certain amount of space between their own car and the car in front of them.
How is being rear ended by a truck different from being rear ended by a standard-sized vehicle?
The effects of being rear ended by a truck have the potential to be a lot more devastating than the effects of being rear ended by a standard-sized vehicle, as the weight of a truck can cause the car it rear ends to rear end the car in front of it, and so on. The weight of the truck also has the potential to cause more severe rear end collision injuries.
With many rear ended truck accidents, the losses incurred will exceed insurance policy limits, but if that happens, a lawsuit potentially can be brought to recover additional damages.
Is it necessary to see a chiropractor after a rear end accident?
Regularly seeing a chiropractor after a rear ended accident can be beneficial, in terms of both speeding up your recovery and receiving a favorable settlement.
That said, whether you should see a chiropractor will depend on the treatment plan that was recommended to you by the medical provider who evaluated you after your accident.
What are the long-term effects of a rear end collision?
Rear ended collisions can cause the affected parties to experience long-term physical and emotional trauma.
While seeking and following through with medical care can go a long way in preventing prolonged physical trauma, emotional trauma can be a bit more difficult to heal from. For example, the accident could make it difficult for you to drive, or you may experience depression or anxiety as a result of your injuries.
Who is at fault in a three-car rear ended accident?
It’s hard to say for sure who would be at fault in a three-car rear ended accident without knowing more details about what happened. However, the most likely scenario is that it would be the last vehicle in line (i.e., the vehicle that hit the middle car).
Were you rear ended in a car accident? Call Hensley Legal to learn how we can help.
A rear end accident can completely upend your life, but the good news is that you don’t have to deal with the aftermath of the accident on your own. Our rear end accident attorneys are here to help.
At Hensley Legal, rear ended accidents are our bread and butter. You can trust us to expertly handle the auto claims process on your behalf so you can focus on your recovery.
We are eager to assist you and are standing by 24/7 to answer any questions you may have. Contact us today for a complimentary consultation.