Who Pays for Rear-End Collisions?

Who Pays for Rear-End Collisions?

In most cases, the motorist who strikes another vehicle in the rear pays for the collision. Generally, that motorist will have auto insurance, and their insurance company will cover a victim’s damages. If your accident-related losses exceed a policy’s coverage limits, or the at-fault driver does not have insurance, you may sue the driver personally.

The details of your accident, the at-fault party’s insurance coverage (or lack thereof), and insurance laws in your state will determine who pays for your rear-end collision. An experienced car accident attorney can evaluate your accident and explain your options for seeking compensation.

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Determining Who Will Pay for Your Rear-End Collision

As your attorney evaluates who should pay for your rear-end collision, they will determine:

Who Pays for Rear-End Collisions?

Why the Rear-End Accident Happened

Without knowing the cause of a rear-end collision, a victim cannot know who is responsible for the accident. Your attorney will determine how and why your accident happened, as this investigation will lead them to financially liable parties.

Whether the Liable Party Has Insurance

If the at-fault motorist (or another at-fault party) has insurance covering the collision, the insurance company may pay for your accident-related damages.

The Nature of Insurance Laws in Your State

Each state has its laws specific to auto insurance, and these states fall into two primary categories:

  1. No-fault states
  2. Fault-based states

In no-fault states, a motorist’s insurance company pays for certain accident-related damages (like medical bills), even if the motorist caused the accident.

So, in a state like Florida, the person whose vehicle was rear-ended should receive some compensation from their own insurer. They can file a claim with the rear-ending motorist’s insurance company for additional compensation.

In fault-based states like Texas, the at-fault motorist has more financial responsibility for accidents. The insurance company for the at-fault driver generally covers the victim’s medical bills and other covered losses unless the victim purchased optional no-fault insurance.

Coverage Limits Within Applicable Insurance Policies

Insurance companies are only financially responsible for the coverage limits in their policies.

Minimum auto insurance coverage limits in Texas are:

  • $30,000 to cover injuries to another accident victim (per victim)
  • $60,000 total for injuries caused to accident victims (per accident)
  • $25,000 to cover property damage to another person’s vehicle

Many motorists only purchase the minimum coverage limits. If your accident-related damages exceed a policy’s coverage limits, you may sue the at-fault party to cover the difference between coverage limits and the cost of your damages.

If you pursue a lawsuit against liable parties, the insurance company will provide a lawyer for the liable party. However, you can hold the at-fault party personally liable for some or all of your accident-related damages.

To form a plan for seeking compensation, your lawyer must know the cost of your accident-related damages.

The cost of your damages matters because:

  • If insurance policies cover the cost of your damages, your lawyer may pursue one or more insurance claims.
  • If the cost of your accident-related damages exceeds insurance policies’ coverage limits, your lawyer may file a lawsuit against liable parties.

The right car accident lawyers have extensive experience representing victims of rear-end accidents. Your lawyer will determine who should pay for your damages and how to seek the compensation you deserve.

Potential Causes of a Rear-End Collision

Because the cause of a rear-end accident is relevant when seeking compensation for damages, victims should know the cause of their collision. A rear-end accident can happen because:

A Motorist Drives Dangerously

In most circumstances, drivers have the sole ability to cause or avoid a collision.

Rear-end accidents can happen when a motorist:

  • Uses their phone or engage in other distracted behavior
  • Speeds
  • Tailgates
  • Fails to reduce their speed in rain, poor visibility, construction zones, or other dangerous conditions
  • Changes lanes without having enough clearance behind the vehicle in front

When a motorist causes a collision, they or their insurers must cover a victim’s accident-related damages.

A Motorist Is Impaired

When a motorist is on an illicit or prescription drug, under the influence of alcohol, tired, enraged, or impaired in any other way, they may cause a rear-end accident. Whether because the motorist has slowed reaction times, distorted vision, or a higher risk of dangerous behavior, impaired motorists are a hazard.

A Vehicle Component Fails

When a vehicle component fails, the motorist may lose control and strike another vehicle in the rear.

Accidents may be likely when the component that fails is:

  • One or more tires
  • A brake
  • A steering component 
  • The windshield
  • A component that allows the vehicle to accelerate

There can be several reasons why a vehicle component malfunctions. Your attorney will determine whether the component’s manufacturer, assembler, or seller is responsible for your accident. A vehicle owner may be responsible for failing to replace components with significant wear and tear.

Road Conditions Contribute to the Collision

Dangerous road conditions can contribute to a rear-end collision, with hazards including:

  • Work crews
  • Dangerous weather (including rain, snow, and fog)
  • Potholes
  • Uneven pavement
  • Large cracks
  • Defective traffic lights
  • Downed or absent traffic signs
  • Debris

Different parties may be liable depending on the nature of the hazard. For example, you can hold a city responsible for failing to fill potholes or repair malfunctioning traffic lights. You can hold a trucking company responsible if items fall out of a truck and into the roadway, leading to a rear-end accident.

A Pedestrian Makes a Mistake

Pedestrians can cause rear-end collisions if they dangerously enter the road. This may require a motorist to stop suddenly, causing the vehicle behind them to strike them in the rear.

Questions include: Is the pedestrian responsible? Is the rear-ending motorist responsible for driving too closely behind another vehicle?

A lawyer will answer such questions as they lead your case for compensation.

How You May Seek Compensation for a Rear-End Accident

Car accident lawyers usually seek compensation through:

  • Insurance claims
  • Lawsuits

If your lawyer files an insurance claim alone, they will seek a settlement covering your damages. If your attorney files a lawsuit, they may negotiate a settlement or take your case to court and fight for a financial judgment in your favor.

Should I Hire a Car Accident Attorney After a Rear-End Collision?

While it is ultimately your decision whether to hire a lawyer, it is always wise to seek a legal consultation. A lawyer can assess your situation and advise whether you will benefit from legal representation.

Car accident lawyers do not want to accept bad or unnecessary cases, so you can trust their assessment when they say you need an attorney handling your claim.

Rear-end accident victims benefit from hiring a lawyer because:

  • Their health is at risk: Rear-end accidents can cause serious injuries, such as traumatic brain injuries. Injured individuals need rest and treatment. You can be reasonably certain that a doctor will not advise you to take on the stress of an insurance claim or lawsuit.
  • Victims don’t know where to begin: Even if an accident victim is physically capable of leading their case, they are likely not confident doing so. Lack of familiarity with insurance claims and lawsuits—and a lack of knowledge about laws and regulations—are reasons you should never attempt to handle your case.
  • A lawyer can develop a stronger case: An experienced lawyer can simply build a stronger case than a victim can build on their own. A lawyer’s experience, knowledge, and resources is regularly the winning formula.
  • Victims lack the time to handle a claim or lawsuit: Most of us live chaotic lives with little spare time between work and personal obligations. You may be unable to carve out the time necessary to even think about starting an insurance claim or lawsuit. Because it is a lawyer’s job to lead cases like yours, they will have the time necessary to build the case you need them to build.
  • A law firm provides resources and financial support: Car accident law firms offer financial support, but that is only one aspect of their services. A law firm also provides attorneys, paralegals, investigators, and expert services to rear-end accident victims.

Ask for the assistance you need after a rear-end collision. If someone injured you or took the life of a loved one, a lawyer can lead the way toward recovering compensation for you.

A Car Accident Lawyer Will Fight for the Financial Recovery You Deserve

Before you agree to hire a lawyer, you should know what they will do for you. Car accident attorneys benefit their clients by:

Referring Them to Medical Professionals

If you have not received a comprehensive medical examination, your lawyer will refer you to qualified doctors.

Your doctors can:

  • Take images of your injuries (which may include X-rays, MRIs, CT scans, or other types of images)
  • Provide diagnoses for each of your accident-related injuries
  • Outline a specific treatment plan
  • Provide copies of all diagnoses, images, treatment guidelines, and bills

Your lawyer will also work with your doctor to understand your injuries and document the cost of your care.

Securing Evidence from the Accident

Your lawyer may prove liability for your rear-end accident using:

  • Video footage of the accident
  • A police report detailing how the accident happened
  • Photographs of vehicular damage, which may tell its own story
  • Eyewitness testimony
  • An expert’s reconstruction of the accident
  • Any other available evidence

Liable parties may argue against your lawyer’s case, but objective evidence of negligence can blunt their criticism.

Documenting Damages

Proof of damages will substantiate your case for compensation.

Your lawyer may document your accident-related damages using:

  • Your account of injury symptoms, including pain and suffering
  • Images of your injuries
  • Your doctor’s diagnosis of accident-related injuries
  • Invoices for medical care, vehicle repairs, and other expenses
  • Expert testimony about the nature and cost of your damages

The more documentation your lawyer secures, the stronger your case. Fortunately, car accident firms have ample resources to document the cost of rear-end accidents.

Calculating a Settlement Value

Auto accident lawyers calculate exactly how much money their clients deserve. Only then can a lawyer pursue a fair settlement.

A settlement:

  • Provides the immediate financial relief the client needs.
  • Ensures the accident victim does not have to pay out of their own pocket for any accident-related damages, including economic and non-economic damages.
  • Holds liable parties accountable for the trauma and financial expense they cause the accident victim.

With a lawyer leading your case, you can pursue the compensation you deserve.

Negotiating a Settlement

Your lawyer will demand that an insurance company, at-fault motorist, or other liable party pay all the compensation you deserve. A settlement is the most common outcome for car accident cases, but your lawyer should only settle if the offer is right.

Completing a Trial (Only If They Don’t Secure a Fair Settlement)

Law firms take cases to trial when they cannot secure a fair settlement offer. Your law firm may do the same.

Car accident attorneys also have paralegals to complete paperwork, manage case-related communications, and oversee every other detail of rear-end accident cases. A lawyer ensures a cohesive case and protects clients by managing every aspect of claims and lawsuits.

Recoverable Damages for Victims of Rear-End Accidents

Your attorney will seek compensation for every harm resulting from your accident, which may include:

  • Medical expenses
  • Pain and suffering
  • Mental health treatment
  • Lost income
  • Diminished earning power
  • Vehicle repairs
  • Replacement of property with total damage
  • Any other economic or non-economic damages caused by your accident

Studies show that rear impact increases the risk of spinal fractures and certain neck injuries, which may include whiplash. Victims of rear-end accidents may also suffer facial injuries, brain injuries, and other injuries. Whatever your injuries, your attorney will fight for the compensation you deserve.

Don’t Wait to Find and Hire Your Car Accident Attorney

Stewart Guss, Attorney for Car Accident
Stewart Guss, Car Accident Lawyer

You may not have much time to file your claim or lawsuit, so don’t wait to find a lawsuit to lead your case. Your personal injury attorney will waste no time securing evidence, evaluating your damages, filing your case, and fighting for the financial recovery you deserve.