Rear-End Collisions: Car Accident Liability and Compensation
Rear-end collisions are one of the most common types of car accidents. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), they make up about 30% of all motor vehicle accidents year after year.
Given the prevalence of modern technology within arm’s reach like smartphones and GPS, this may not come as a surprise. Distracted driving is a leading cause of many accidents. Moreover, drivers who get rear-ended by someone often feel mounting frustration because so many of these accidents are preventable.
Luckily, when it comes to fault, rear-end car accidents are fairly straightforward. Below, we discuss some of the key issues around liability and compensation in rear-end collisions.
Rear-End Accidents and Fault
While rear-end crashes are the most common form of car accident, no one ever expects to be injured from it. Almost every collision of this type is the result of negligence. In fact, these accidents typically occur in areas where vehicles are expected to stop, such as in traffic jams, at intersections, or at stop signs.
Oftentimes, this makes establishing fault rather simple. For instance, if you are hit from behind by a distracted driver while legally stopped at a red light, the other driver is almost guaranteed to be at fault. Whether they were texting, speeding, or driving while intoxicated, the reason doesn’t matter.
While establishing fault in rear-end collisions is generally straightforward, dealing with the negligent driver’s insurance company isn’t. Moreover, trying to gain the compensation necessary to recover is more difficult than you might think. That’s why it is essential to seek out a car accident lawyer Houston drivers can trust to be their advocate.
Questionable Liability in Rear-End Collisions
As we said, the driver who rear-ends you is almost always at fault and will be found negligent. However, there are rare instances in which the lead vehicle might bear some liability for a rear-end crash.
- Brake-checking the driver for trailing you (ie. slamming on your brakes without reason)
- Suddenly shifting into reverse
- Continuing to drive with a flat tire or mechanical issue but not using hazard lights or attempting to pull over
- Not repairing faulty equipment or a broken tail light or brake light
Outside of situations like these, determining accident liability in a rear-end collision is straightforward. That resolves one of the two major issues in a car accident case. However, in these cases, you trigger a Texas rule known as modified comparative fault. This can make damages tricky to calculate.
Modified Comparative Fault in Texas
Also known as “proportionate fault,” this means that a judge or jury might place percentages of responsibility on the parties involved. This is a means of covering fault on both sides of the accident.
While it depends in part on where they occur, rear-end collisions don’t always result in full blame of the negligent driver. It’s important to understand potential mitigating factors.
- Were you stopped in the flow of traffic?
- Did you use your turn signal or hazard lights?
- Were your brake lights functional?
Your Houston car accident lawyer will perform a thorough investigation to determine proximate cause. “Proximate cause” refers to the legal cause of an accident, as in “was the collision legally foreseeable?”
In instances where your degree of fault exceeds 50%, you likely won’t recover compensation in a rear-end collision case. The negligent driver’s insurance company may pursue evidence or statements to show you share responsibility. To protect your rights and pursue proper compensation, you need a car accident lawyer to advocate on your behalf.
Obtaining Compensation After Rear-End Collisions
Oftentimes, gaining compensation for vehicle damage after you’re rear-ended is uneventful. In a majority of cases, everyone agrees on liability. In turn, damage is simple to determine, and insurance companies are quick to cover the victim’s claim.
Unfortunately, injuries are a frustrating and complex aspect of car insurance claims and personal injury lawsuits following rear-end collisions. This is because one of the most common injured after a rear-end accident is “whiplash.”
“Whiplash” Injuries and Car Accidents
This is a very common neck injury that is often the result of rear-end collisions. When you’re rear-ended, it has the potential to whip your head back suddenly, This can cause injuries across your neck, upper back, and shoulders.
Typically, these are soft-tissue injuries. They are usually strains or sprains to the muscles of the neck. When it comes to personal injury claims, soft tissue injuries are quite difficult to prove and quantify for compensation. While broken bones or torn muscles are easy to identify, sprains and strains are far more difficult.
Even when they are evident in medical reports, the extent of the injury is hard to prove. In many cases, the primary measure is subjective complaints about discomfort and pain. From headaches or blurred vision to shoulder and back pain or even trouble concentrating, there’s not always objective evidence.
What This Means for Rear-End Collisions and Injuries
Unfortunately, all this amounts to the opportunity for rear-ended drivers to exaggerate their injuries, which has become a trope of sorts in personal injury claims. More importantly, it means that car insurance companies are often skeptical when drivers claim whiplash injuries.
This skepticism has led many car accident attorneys to avoid the use of the term since it carries so many negative connotations. Instead, they may refer to the injuries as cervical sprains or myofascial injuries.
Advocates for Victims of Rear-End Collisions
When your car is a mess and bills begin to mount around you, you might consider pursuing a personal injury claim. With rear-end collisions or any car accident claim, it’s important to begin as soon as possible. When you leave claims to chance, you may find that insurance companies give you the short end of the stick in compensation.
Texas allows you up to two years to file a claim after an accident, but it is important that you do not procrastinate. When you deserve compensation, our Houston car accident lawyers are ready to fight for your rights and pursue the damages you need to recover. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.
Let us show you that we are the advocates you deserve.