A rear-end traffic accident happens when the front of one vehicle strikes the back of another vehicle. These accidents are common near traffic intersections and on highways, primarily when traffic slows down unexpectedly. In many instances, these accidents happen when rear drivers fail to watch the road attentively—or when they drink and drive.
Rear-end collisions may also cause serious injuries that require ongoing medical treatment and rehabilitation. Accident victims can experience pain, suffering, and inconvenience for the rest of their life, depending upon the extent of their injuries.
If you or someone you love suffered injuries in a rear-end car accident, you must seek prompt medical attention. You should also retain an experienced lawyer to represent you throughout your personal injury insurance claim or lawsuit. An Edmonton car accident lawyer can be hugely beneficial when it comes to filing a claim on your behalf, negotiating with the insurance company, and pursuing the fair compensation you deserve for your injuries.
How Rear-end Accidents Happen
Rear-end car collisions usually happen when people drive their vehicles negligently. Negligent driving can take many forms, but in every instance, it involves unreasonable conduct on the at-fault driver’s part. Some of the most common negligent driving maneuvers that cause rear-end accidents include road rule violations, intoxicated driving, road rage, and distracted driving.
The primary purpose of road rules is to prevent traffic accidents from happening in the first place. However, when drivers violate traffic laws, they increase their chances of causing such an accident. Common road rule violations that lead to rear-end car crashes include failing to yield the right-of-way, speeding, and following other vehicles too closely.
Another common cause of rear-end crashes is intoxicated driving. While commercial truck drivers and drivers under 21 years old must follow stricter standards, most passenger vehicle drivers are legally intoxicated with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 percent or greater. Alberta imposes administrative penalties when the BAC is 0.05 percent or higher.
Alcohol severely impairs a driver’s central nervous system and causes adverse physical symptoms, including blurred vision. Moreover, alcohol can limit a driver’s concentration and reaction time. Consequently, if traffic backs up quickly, the driver might be unable to stop in time to avoid a rear-end crash. They may also fail to see the vehicle in front of them, causing a rear-end crash.
Road rage is another common cause of rear-end traffic accidents. A driver exhibits road rage when they react inappropriately to an actual or perceived roadway circumstance. For example, they may become unreasonably angry at a driver who is driving too slowly, or they may unnecessarily tailgate other vehicles. In addition, they may zealously weave in and out of highway traffic without using their turn signals. Any of these aggressive driving maneuvers may cause a rear-end crash which leads to injuries.
Finally, many rear-end accidents occur when drivers become distracted while behind the wheel. Electronic devices, including GPS navigation systems, tablets, and cellular phones, may divert a driver’s attention away from the road. Similarly, drivers may become distracted when they roughhouse with vehicle passengers or listen to loud music playing in their vehicle. When a driver looks down or turns their head to the side, they may not see the vehicle in front of them, negligently causing a rear-end crash.
If you suffered injuries in a rear-end traffic accident that resulted from some other driver’s negligence, you should speak with an experienced car accident lawyer in your area right away. Your lawyer can review your accident circumstances with you, explain your legal options, and develop a plan for moving your case forward.
Injuries That Rear-end Accident Victims May Suffer
Rear-end crashes are often very forceful and may cause an accident victim’s body to move around violently inside their vehicle. In some instances, the collision may cause the accident victim’s head to strike the headrest or steering wheel, leading to a traumatic head or brain injury. At other times, the collision might cause the accident victim to experience a severe muscular contusion in their neck or upper back. Finally, some rear-end crashes are so forceful that they cause a driver or passenger to suffer a fracture, broken bone, spinal cord injury, or paralysis injury.
As soon as possible after a rear-end traffic accident, you should follow up at your local urgent care center or hospital emergency room. You should take this step even if you are unsure about the severity of your injuries. Relatively minor injuries can become much worse the longer they go untreated.
The medical provider at an urgent care facility will be in the best position to order the necessary imaging studies, including CAT scans, X-rays, and MRIs, to ascertain your medical condition. They can also recommend future treatment if your injury symptoms worsen.
While you focus your attention on recovering from your injuries, a knowledgeable car accident lawyer can start advocating for your legal interests. Your lawyer can begin to gather up your medical records, obtain investigation reports, and request lost wage documents from your employer. After your medical treatment is complete, your lawyer can file a claim on your behalf with the appropriate insurance company and start negotiating a settlement for you.
Filing a Claim With the At-fault Driver’s Insurer
The first step to pursuing monetary compensation after a rear-end car accident is to file a personal injury claim—usually with the insurer for the at-fault driver. The claims-filing process begins when the accident victim’s lawyer submits a settlement demand package to the insurance company adjuster. That demand package will include various documents which the accident victim will use to prove their case.
Those documents may include:
- Copies of all related medical treatment records and surgical records
- Lost wage documents which show the hours, dates, and times that the accident victim missed from work, as well as the total amount of money they lost
- Copies of all police reports and an investigation report from the accident scene
- Eyewitness statements
- A victim’s personal statement which details the overall effect the accident had on the accident victim’s life and well-being
The accident victim’s lawyer will assemble all of these documents into a settlement demand package. Along with the demand package, the lawyer will also prepare a settlement demand letter which makes a formal demand for monetary compensation—within the available insurance policy limits.
Once the adjuster reviews all of this information, they might make a settlement offer to resolve the car accident claim. However, in most instances, these initial settlement offers do not fairly compensate accident victims for their injuries and other damages.
Instead, they are an attempt by the insurance company to try and resolve the case for as little value as possible. After all, insurance companies—which are big businesses—want to try and settle claims for as little money as possible. This allows them to keep the bulk of their money in-house to distribute to their shareholders.
Your car accident lawyer can negotiate with the insurance company adjuster—often on numerous occasions—to try and convince them to increase their offer significantly. However, this does not always happen. If the insurance company refuses to compensate you fairly for your car accident injuries and other damages, you can litigate your case in the court system.
Your lawyer can help you decide whether a particular settlement offer is a good offer, given your circumstances. Your lawyer can then help you determine whether you should accept a specific offer or file a lawsuit and litigate your case through the court system.
Litigating a Rear-end Accident Case in Court
The litigation phase of a car accident claim begins when a lawyer files a lawsuit in court. After filing suit, the accident victim’s lawyer will serve a copy on the at-fault driver, who will send the lawsuit to their insurance company. The insurance company will then retain a lawyer to represent the at-fault driver throughout the litigation proceedings.
Even after your lawyer files a lawsuit in court, the case may still settle at any point. In fact, the majority of car accident claims resolve long before the trial date. Your lawyer can facilitate ongoing settlement discussions with the insurance company adjuster and work to pursue a better offer on your behalf.
During litigation, the parties typically answer written questions, known as interrogatories, and engage in discovery depositions. If the case still does not resolve by the end of litigation, the parties can take their case to a jury trial or pursue alternative dispute resolution.
At a judge or jury trial, the judge or jury resolves all disputed issues for the parties, including the amount of monetary compensation to award the car accident victim.
The parties may consider mediation or binding arbitration as an alternative to a jury trial. At mediation, a neutral mediator works with the parties to continue their settlement discussions and hopefully bring them closer to a resolution. At a binding arbitration hearing, the parties agree to let a neutral arbitrator decide the total monetary damages to award the accident victim. Since these arbitration proceedings are binding, they are not subject to appeal.
A knowledgeable car crash lawyer in your area can help you decide whether you should take your case to a jury trial or pursue alternative dispute resolution as a means of resolving your car accident claim.
Recoverable Damages in Rear-end Car Crash Cases
Rear-end car accident victims often sustain injuries that require doctor visits, hospitalizations, surgical procedures, and physical therapy. Many of these injuries can also lead to ongoing pain, suffering, and inconvenience.
The amounts and types of damages that car crash victims may recover depend upon various factors, including how the accident happened, the collision force, the injuries that the accident victim sustained, and the pain and suffering they endured.
By filing a car accident claim or lawsuit, rear-end car accident victims may receive monetary compensation for their:
- Lost earnings, where their injuries prevent them from working for a period of time after the accident
- Loss of earning capacity, where an accident victim’s injuries prevent them from working at the same job—often requiring that they switch jobs or careers and take a pay cut
- Inconvenience, where the accident and resulting injuries disrupt an accident victim’s life and well-being going forward
- Mental distress, where the accident victim suffers ongoing mental anguish—such as from PTSD—due to the accident and their injuries
- Past and future pain and suffering, where the accident victim experiences pain from the date of their accident up to the present time—and where a medical provider predicts that they will likely experience symptoms for the rest of their life
- Loss of the ability to use a body part, such as where the accident causes a permanent injury—like full or partial paralysis—which limits bodily movements and sensations
- Loss of life enjoyment, where the accident and injuries cause a decline in the accident victim’s overall quality of life
- Loss of spousal companionship and consortium, where the accident victim’s injuries prevent or limit spousal intimacy
If you sustained injuries in a recent rear-end car crash, your lawyer can help you determine which of these damages you’re eligible to pursue and recover in your personal injury claim. Your lawyer can then negotiate with the insurance company adjuster on your behalf and, if necessary, litigate your case through the court system to an efficient resolution.
Contact an Experienced Car Accident Lawyer Today to Learn More
If you suffered injuries in a rear-end car accident, a knowledgeable personal injury lawyer in your area can help. In addition to filing a claim on your behalf with the appropriate insurance company, your lawyer can assist you during settlement negotiations and help you decide whether you should accept a particular settlement offer.
If litigation becomes necessary in your case, your lawyer can file the lawsuit in court on your behalf and, if appropriate, take your case to a binding arbitration hearing or civil jury trial. An Edmonton personal injury lawyer can help you make informed decisions in your case and work to maximize the compensation you recover for your injuries. You can have peace of mind and less stress following your rear-end accident injuries.