Many drivers are in a hurry to get to their final destination. When drivers tailgate—or follow other vehicles too closely—they may not stop in time to avoid a tailgating accident. This is especially true if traffic slows down quickly and the rear driver does not allow enough stopping distance. Generally speaking, drivers should try and leave at least one car length between themselves and the vehicle in front of them. Nevertheless, in a tailgating accident, it is almost always the rear driver who is responsible. For more information, please reach out to a car accident lawyer.
A tailgate accident may cause an accident victim’s body to move around inside their vehicle—frontward and backward or from side to side—very quickly. As a result, the accident victim may suffer a whiplash injury or other muscular contusion. A part of their body may also strike something in the vehicle at the time of impact, like the steering wheel, headrest, door frame, or dashboard, resulting in a severe injury.
You have legal options if you suffer injuries in a tailgating accident. A knowledgeable car accident lawyer in your area can help you file a claim or lawsuit against the responsible driver and their insurance company. After filing the claim, your lawyer can negotiate with the insurance company adjuster and work to obtain a favorable settlement on your behalf.
If the insurance company refuses to take your case seriously and offer the compensation you deserve, your lawyer can file a lawsuit.
If someone tailgated you and caused you injuries, reach out for legal help immediately. Even though your accident might seem straightforward, the insurance claim or lawsuit process is complex, and you need professional legal assistance as soon as possible.
How Do Tailgating Accidents Happen?
Tailgating accidents occur when drivers follow other vehicles too closely. They might be in a hurry to reach their final destination and fail to leave enough stopping distance between their vehicle and the vehicle in front of them. If traffic slows down quickly or an emergency arises, the rear driver may not stop in time to avoid a crash.
The law prohibits drivers from following too closely, yet drivers commonly ignore this requirement. They might tailgate for many reasons, but this dangerous practice can lead to rear-end crashes and injuries.
Some tailgating accidents happen when drivers exhibit road rage. Road rage is a driver’s response to a perceived or actual situation. The front driver may not be driving fast enough for the rear driver’s liking, and consequently, the rear driver may start blinking their lights, accelerating, and following the front vehicle too closely. If the front vehicle stops short, the tailgating vehicle may cause a severe accident.
Other rear-end accidents happen when drivers are distracted. A distracted driver ignores the road. Instead, the driver might be fiddling with a GPS device, texting on a cellular phone or tablet, listening to loud music in the car, or turning their head to roughhouse with passengers sitting in the backseat. A distraction that lasts for a second or two might prevent a driver from noticing their surroundings. Consequently, they may follow a vehicle too closely and, if an emergency arises, may negligently cause their vehicle to collide with the front vehicle.
Finally, some tailgating accidents happen when drugs or alcohol intoxicate drivers. Alcohol affects the brain and can significantly impair a driver’s ability to operate their vehicle safely. Alcohol can also impact a driver’s concentration, impair judgment, and delay reaction time.
Consequently, an impaired driver may negligently tailgate another vehicle or misjudge the distance between their vehicle and the vehicle in front of them. Consequently, a severe crash may seriously injure the front vehicle’s occupants.
Proving Your Accident Claim
The accident victim must prove several legal elements to recover monetary damages in a car accident claim. First, they must establish that the other driver behaved negligently or unreasonably under the circumstances. This typically means that they violated a traffic law, failed to watch the road, or otherwise acted recklessly under the circumstances. In addition, the accident victim must demonstrate that they suffered at least one injury in their rear-end accident and that their injury occurred because of the accident.
An accident victim’s lawyer may need an expert to help prove these legal elements. For example, the accident victim’s lawyer can retain an accident reconstructionist who can review the police report, speak with eyewitnesses, and piece together exactly how the crash occurred. At other times, the accident victim’s lawyer may need to retain a medical expert who can causally connect the accident victim’s claimed injuries to the accident.
If you suffered injuries in a car crash that resulted from tailgating, you should speak with a knowledgeable car accident lawyer in your area as soon as possible. Your lawyer can investigate the circumstances of your accident and file a claim with the tailgating driver’s insurance company. Your lawyer can then begin settlement negotiations and work to recover the compensation you deserve for your accident-related injuries.
Common Injuries in a Tailgating Accident
When a tailgating accident happens at high speed, it can thrash the accident victim’s body around the vehicle, causing them to suffer one or more severe injuries. The injuries that a car accident victim sustains will depend upon various factors, including the force of the impact, the speeds of the involved vehicles, the accident location, the type of accident that occurred, and whether the accident victim was wearing a seatbelt, and whether any vehicle airbags deployed.
Some of the most common injuries that tailgating accident victims suffer include soft tissue injuries, whiplash injuries, muscle sprains, and strains. If the accident victim’s body strikes something in the vehicle with a significant amount of force, the accident victim can suffer a broken bone or traumatic brain injury. Other potential injuries include internal organ damage, spinal cord and back injuries, paralysis, and abrasions. Sometimes, when an airbag deploys, the accident victim may suffer bruising on their body.
If you suffered any of these injuries in an accident that resulted from tailgating, your priority should be obtaining medical treatment at a hospital emergency room or urgent care facility. When you receive treatment at one of these facilities, the doctor or nurse on duty can physically examine you and order the necessary imaging studies, including CAT scans, MRIs, and X-rays. The results of these imaging studies will make clear the full extent of your injuries and whether or not you require further treatment.
If you need to follow up with a medical specialist, such as an orthopedic doctor or neurologist, you should do that in the days and weeks following your accident. Failing to seek proper medical treatment, or failing to treat continuously for your injuries, can have a detrimental impact on your injury case. Specifically, the insurance company may believe that your injuries were not all that serious or that you did not make medical treatment a top priority after your accident.
In addition to seeking prompt medical treatment after a tailgating accident, you should speak with a car accident lawyer in your area as soon as possible. Your lawyer can begin gathering your medical records, lost wage documents, investigation reports, and photographs, and assemble them into a settlement demand package.
Once you complete your medical treatment or understand your future treatment needs, your lawyer can forward this demand package to the insurance company adjuster and begin settlement negotiations on your behalf. Your lawyer can do all this while you focus on the medical treatment you need and fully recover from your injuries.
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Recoverable Damages Following a Tailgate Accident
Victims of tailgate accidents can recover various damages for the injuries that they suffered. However, not all car accident cases are the same, and the damages that one accident victim recovers may differ from those that another accident victim obtains. The amounts and types of recoverable damages will depend upon the severity of the accident victim’s injuries, their medical treatment, their pain and suffering, and whether or not they suffered a permanent injury in the collision.
First, accident victims can pursue monetary compensation for their lost wages or loss of earning capacity—if they miss time from work to recover from their injuries. In addition, they can seek compensation for the inconvenience, suffering, pain, mental distress, and emotional anguish they endured due to their injuries.
If their injuries prevent them from living life to the fullest, they can claim loss of life enjoyment. Similarly, if they suffered a permanent injury in their accident, such as spinal cord damage or paralysis, they can make a loss of use claim. Finally, they can pursue monetary compensation for permanent disability or loss of spousal companionship and family support.
A car accident lawyer in your area can evaluate your claim realistically and let you know which of these damages you might be eligible to recover in your injury claim. Your lawyer can then file the necessary claim or lawsuit to recover the damages you deserve for your injuries.
Litigating a Car Accident Case in Court
Litigation begins when an accident victim’s lawyer files a lawsuit. You may need to do this if the insurance company disputes fault for the accident or fails to offer sufficient compensation. Even after filing suit, an accident victim’s lawyer may continue settlement negotiations with the insurance company adjuster. However, the court will establish deadlines for the case to move it forward efficiently.
First, the court will typically schedule a discovery deadline in the case. During discovery, the parties will exchange answers to written questions, called interrogatories, and exchange pertinent case documents—including medical reports and lost wage statements. The defense lawyer may also take the accident victim’s deposition to learn more about their version of the case.
If the case does not resolve after discovery, the parties will typically attend a pre-trial or settlement conference. At this time, the court will encourage the parties to resolve all disputed issues. Otherwise, the case will go to a jury trial. At trial, the jury will decide all disputed issues in the case, including the amount of money to award the accident victim.
The parties may consider binding arbitration or mediation as an alternative to a jury trial. During binding arbitration, the parties present evidence to a neutral arbitrator who decides the issue of damages. At mediation, a neutral mediator facilitates settlement discussions between the parties and helps them resolve their case.
A knowledgeable personal injury lawyer in your area can represent you throughout litigation and help you make the best possible decisions in your case.
Call a Knowledgeable Car Accident Lawyer in Your Area Today
Tailgating accidents typically occur out of the blue when a driver or passenger least expects them. Nevertheless, the impact force can thrust the accident victim’s body forward and backward, or from side to side, in an abrupt manner. Consequently, the driver or passenger may suffer serious whiplash injuries, muscular contusions, and other complications.
If you or someone you care about suffered injuries in a tailgating accident resulting from another person’s negligence, you have legal rights and options available. An experienced car accident lawyer in your area can meet with you to discuss the circumstances of your accident and how best to proceed with your case.
If you file a claim, your lawyer can file the paperwork for you and negotiate a favorable settlement from the insurance company. However, if the insurance company refuses to offer you the compensation you deserve for your tailgating accident injuries, your lawyer can pursue a favorable result through a lawsuit.
Your lawyer will help you pursue the maximum amount of compensation for your accident-related injuries. Contact a lawyer today to receive your consultation.