Rear-end collisions are the most common type of car accident. At low speed, they can still do significant damage, both to the vehicle and the driver. At high speed, rear-end collisions can have catastrophic results, even causing a multiple-car accident in a highly congested area. If you suffered an injury when another driver collided with your car from behind, you may have questions about what you should do next. Ultimately, you have the right to seek compensation for your losses.
Common Causes of Rear-End Collisions
Rear-end collisions can happen in many different ways, but the most common causes are related to driver error. For example, tailgating can easily result in rear-end collision, and it is typical behavior from an impatient or aggressive driver. Tailgating occurs when one driver follows too closely behind another, giving themselves insufficient space between both cars to stop if the vehicle in front slows down or abruptly stops. In most states, tailgating is illegal, and when it leads to an accident, it is always the fault of the car riding too closely.
Other common causes of rear-end collisions include:
- Driving while distracted. One of the most dangerous things a driver can do is divert their attention away from the road. Some typical distractions are talking or texting on the phone, eating, or changing the radio station. However, mental distractions are just as hazardous. You are still distracted if you look at the road, but your mind is elsewhere.
- Aggressive driving. Speeding is the most common form of aggressive driving. Impatient drivers weaving in and out of traffic at high speed are a danger to other drivers, especially in areas with heavy traffic.
- Braking issues. A defective brake system can easily result in a rear-end collision because the driver cannot stop the car. In addition, if the at-fault driver knew of the defect before operating the vehicle, they could face even more significant damages.
- Inclement weather. Rain, compacted snow, and black ice are common conditions that could make stopping difficult.
The cause is just one of several factors that help you determine your next step following a rear-end collision. What you do immediately after the crash can help you build a strong case supporting your compensation claim.
What To Do After a Rear-End Collision
Rear-end collisions are often the most shocking. Unfortunately, most people are unaware until the vehicle hits their rear bumper, giving them no time to brace for impact. Once the shock wears off and you can think more clearly, you can take action to protect your right to compensation. In the aftermath of a car accident, you should:
- Call 911 or the non-emergency police number. If you or anyone else needs medical assistance right away, call 911 and remain in place until the ambulance arrives. If you do not need help, you should still report the accident to the police. Some states do not require police to come to minor accidents without serious injuries, but you can still file a report online.
- Start documenting the scene. Write down everything you see, and take photographs with your phone. Remember to include the surrounding area and the position of the vehicles. Get names and contact information from everyone, including passengers from the other car, and ask the other driver for their license and insurance information.
- See your physician. At the time of the accident, you may feel fine, but one of the most common injuries from a rear-end collision is whiplash. Whiplash is not a visible injury, and it sometimes takes hours or even days to develop the painful symptoms.
- Contact a personal injury attorney. The laws that govern car accidents are mandated at the state level. If you are unfamiliar with your state’s collision laws, personal injury attorneys specialize in car accident cases and can advise on the steps you take next to receive compensation.
The most important thing to do after an accident is to see a doctor. Unfortunately, you may feel compelled to skip the visit for fear of collecting medical bills. Still, your medical records and the statements you receive are solid evidence of your injury should you need to file a car accident lawsuit.
Liability in a Rear-End Collision
Liability is a vital component of any personal injury claim, and each state handles liability in a car accident using state-mandated laws. No-fault states require all drivers to carry personal injury protection insurance so they can immediately seek compensation from their own insurer rather than waiting on the litigation process. However, PIP insurance offers limited coverage, so no-fault states typically allow drivers who suffer serious injuries to bypass PIP and file a civil suit against the at-fault driver.
Rear-end collisions are among the easiest of car accidents to prove liability. This is because the driver in the back is usually at fault and therefore responsible for the resulting damages. However, when both drivers share responsibility, the road to compensation is slightly more complex.
Comparative and Contributory Fault
Most states govern shared fault using the comparative negligence law, which comes in two forms:
- Modified comparative negligence splits liability by percentages between the two parties but only allows the plaintiff to receive compensation if their percentage of fault is lower. For example, if the court determines you carry 51% of the blame, you cannot recover damages.
- Pure comparative negligence splits liability but allows the plaintiff to receive compensation even if they are more at fault.
When allowed to receive compensation, comparative negligence mandates that your percentage of fault be deducted from the settlement or award. As an example, suppose the court assigns you 60% blame for your accident and places the value of damages at $10,000. In a modified comparative negligence state, you would not receive compensation. However, in a pure comparative negligence state, you would receive the $10,000 after a 60% deduction, meaning your total payment would be $4,000.
Very few states follow the contributory negligence rule, which is significantly harsher than comparative negligence. Contributory negligence simply states that the plaintiff cannot receive any percentage of damages if the defense can prove they contributed even 1% of fault.
Contact a Rear-End Collision Lawyer Today
Car accidents, even minor collisions, can result in significant injuries and property damage. Some accidents are seemingly unavoidable. For example, you cannot stop inclement weather from causing black ice, but rear-end collisions are almost always avoidable. When the cause is careless or reckless behavior, the victims often suffer the most. If you have questions about liability or other elements of your accident, reach out to a rear-end collision lawyer. They typically work on contingency, which means they charge no upfront fees to discuss your case or represent you. Should they decide to accept your case, they only receive payment when they settle the case for you.
At Cellino Law, we have a team of car accident lawyers with expertise in rear-end collisions ready to take on your case. Our goal is to help you get fair compensation for your losses and support you through your physical recovery. Contact Cellino Law today for a free case review. You will have the chance to ask all the legal questions you want without worrying about adding to your financial burden. We are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and will get started on your case right away.