Rear-end collisions can be terrifying. It’s especially frightening when you’re the one who was rear-ended. So often in these types of car accidents, the person who is hit has no way to avoid it.
Your car may sustain significant damage or even be totaled. You may be dealing with injuries like whiplash, persistent back pain, PTSD, or a concussion. In high-speed rear-end accidents, the injuries can even be catastrophic.
Whether your accident was minor or serious, you might be wondering if you should hire a lawyer after being rear-ended. The answer depends on several key factors, including the severity of the wreck, who was at fault, and the complexity of the case. Find out more about hiring an attorney after an accident and get tips on maximizing your rear-end collision settlement from Garrity Traina.
Do You Live In An At-Fault State?
Before taking any other steps, it’s important to understand how your state handles car accidents. Most states operate under an at-fault system, where the insurance carrier of the driver responsible for causing an accident is responsible for the cost of property damage and injuries. At-fault states include Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada, Washington, Illinois, Indiana, and Tennessee, among others.
At-fault states are not always black and white; comparative negligence laws can lead to a scenario where one driver is found to be 40% at fault and the other driver is 60% at fault, for example.
However, there are 12 states that operate under no-fault regulations. This means that each individual involved in an accident in those states files a claim with their own insurance company, regardless of who caused the accident. These states include:
If your injuries and property damage exceed the limits covered by your own insurance, you may still be able to file a personal injury lawsuit with the help of an experienced accident attorney.
Who Is At Fault In a Rear-End Collision?
If you live in an at-fault state, determining who was responsible for the accident is crucial. In most cases, the driver who rear-ended you will be deemed at fault for the accident. This is because cars are legally required to maintain a safe following distance from the vehicles in front of them. Even if you had to slam on your brakes, the driver behind you should have been driving far enough behind to make a safe stop.
That being said, there are circumstances that might shift some or all of the blame onto the driver who was rear-ended:
- If the lead driver’s brake lights were out at the time of the crash
- If the lead driver was driving aggressively, recklessly, or erratically prior to the crash
- If the lead driver did something unexpected, such as putting their car in reverse
How Do You File A Rear-End Collision Insurance Claim?
Regardless of whether or not you choose to seek the help of a car accident lawyer, you will need to file a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance.
(If you live in a no-fault state or have optional Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage, you’ll want to file a claim with your own insurance company.)
Reporting the Accident
No matter the circumstances, always report an accident to your own insurance company so they have a record of it. To file a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company, gather as much evidence as possible at the scene of the accident.
Providing Evidence to Support Your Claim
Ensure you provide the insurance company with the driver’s name and license plate number, along with the date, time, and location of the accident, and any photos you have of the accident scene. If you were immediately taken to the hospital after the accident, this may not always be possible. Either way, contact the local police department for a copy of the accident report.
In addition, provide ample proof of the damage to your car and the cost of your injuries. Collect and submit medical bills, document the time you missed from work due to the accident, and so on. An insurance claims adjuster will likely inspect your vehicle after the accident to determine the cost of repairs or replacement.
How Much Will A Rear-End Collision Settlement Be?
Estimating a rear-end collision settlement is challenging due to numerous factors. Depending on the extent of your car’s damage and the severity of your injuries, your initial settlement from the at-fault driver’s insurance company could range from a few hundred dollars to the full policy limits. Other factors, such as pre-existing conditions or ongoing medical care, can also impact your settlement.
How Car Insurance Minimums Affect Your Settlement
The minimum amount of car insurance coverage varies by state, meaning the coverage for property damage to your car could be far below its value. For instance, in states like Arizona and New Mexico, the minimum amount of property damage coverage is just $10,000.
While bodily injury thresholds generally start at $25,000 per person, some states like Illinois and Tennessee have limits of just $50,000 of bodily injury coverage per accident. This means that if four people were in your vehicle when you were rear-ended and they all sustained moderate to severe injuries, each person could receive less than $25,000 in coverage to aid with their medical bills and associated expenses.
Car Insurance Companies Aren’t Looking Out For You
In addition to everything else, car insurance companies often make low-ball settlement offers to accident victims—far below the actual cost of medical bills, car repairs or replacement costs, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
When you’re dealing with a car insurance company on your own, you’re likely to receive an insufficient rear-end collision settlement offer. One report by the Insurance Research Council even found that, on average, injured accident victims received a settlement offer of at least three times what those without attorneys were offered.
How Can You Be Sure Whether You Need an Accident Lawyer?
The best way to determine how much a car accident attorney can actually help you is to arrange a consultation with an experienced personal injury law firm. At Garrity Traina, we offer all prospective clients a free case review to help accident victims understand their legal options and make an informed decision.
The truth is, even a seemingly straightforward rear-end collision case can be complicated. Trying to fight insurance companies on your own while recovering from an accident can feel nearly impossible. With a qualified attorney on your side, the personal injury claim process becomes much less overwhelming.
A lawyer can also expedite the time it takes to reach a rear-end collision settlement and maximize the compensation available to you and your family. In addition, at Garrity Traina, you won’t pay us a penny unless we make a recovery on your behalf.
With law offices and attorneys located throughout the United States, legal assistance through Garrity Traina is just one call away. Contact us today at 844-977-1900 to schedule your free, no-obligation consultation. Our representatives are standing by via LiveChat to answer your questions. You can also submit your case details using this convenient form.