When Do You Need a Rear-End Accident Attorney to Help Protect You?
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) identifies rear-end collisions as the most common driving accident, accounting for nearly 30% of all vehicle crashes. With the continuous increase of personal electronic devices and dashboard distractions, this percentage may be on the rise.
If you’ve sustained injuries after being hit in a rear-end crash, D’Amico Law Offices has compiled the following information to help you understand your next options. Based on our years of representing auto accident injury cases on behalf of drivers, passengers, and vehicle owners, we encourage you to reach out if you think you need legal assistance.
- What Are Common Causes of Rear-End Accidents and Who Is At Fault?
- When Do You Need a Rear-End Accident Attorney?
- Are You In an At-Fault or a No-Fault State?
- Contact a Rear-End Accident Lawyer Today
- Rear-End Accidents FAQ
What Are Common Causes of Rear-End Accidents and Who Is At Fault?
Distracted, intoxicated, or reckless driving can lead to rear-end car accidents. If you’ve been rear-ended in a car accident, your first priorities are your safety, the safety of your passengers, and the state of your property (the car and anything stored within it). After the accident and the first assessment of damages, the next actions you take almost invariably involve institutions of policing, insurance, and sometimes law.
Police establish who was at fault in the accident, and insurance agencies work out who needs to pay for medical care and car repair. The law can become involved when there is a dispute regarding fault, or when insurance companies fail to pay a sufficient amount to cover the damage. For this you may need a rear-end accident attorney.
When rear-end accident cases enter a courtroom, what caused them matters, and here are some examples explaining why:
Following Too Closely
Even on a clear day with no adverse traffic conditions like bad weather or rush-hour traffic, rear-end accidents still occur. This often happens when one car follows another too closely.
Drivers may become careless if they are in a rush, or anxious to turn or move to another lane. Whatever the reason, when you are hit in a rear-end accident, it still requires making a report and filing with insurance. It may also necessitate hiring a lawyer if you are injured and/or in need of medical care.
If you are rear-ended by a distracted driver, the fault is theirs. However, their liability may be higher if they were distracted by illegal behavior, such as texting, rather than by the sudden appearance of a wasp or bee in their car. One action is preventable and there are rules against it for that reason, while the other is accidental.
Likewise if they were interrupted by children or pets in the car who were not properly seatbelted or contained, again that may lead to higher responsibility and punishment. A lawyer may ask a judge not only to consider your needs in a settlement, but punitive damages as well.
Speeding by itself increases the likelihood of accidents. It decreases the driver’s reaction time to traffic changes, disrupts the flow of other vehicles, and potentially causes chain-reactions with cut-offs and sudden stops.
Speeding during hazardous weather is even worse. Speeding during conditions of rain, sleet, snow, hail, high wind, fog, and possibly smoke from nearby fires could be considered as particularly irresponsible by a judge, and in need of higher consequence.
Drunk or Intoxicated Driving
If the crash you suffered was caused by the other driver being drunk, high, or otherwise compromised by drugs (whether illegal or prescription), this information might be useful in assessing the civil damages awarded to you.
The criminal consequences are a separate matter that the perpetrator of the collision may have to deal with.
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Other Impairments to Driving
Other impairments may include exhaustion, leading to a driver who falls asleep at the wheel.
Also driving with improper corrective eyewear, such as an eyeglasses prescription so long past an update that the wearer is a danger on the road. Likewise, if a driver’s vision through the windshield is blocked due to unmaintained windshield wipers, too many danglers on their rear-view mirror, an illegal tint, or view-obstructing stickers, etc.
All of these may be considered in a legal setting when calculating a fair settlement for you.
This may include disregarding stop signs or traffic lights, turning into oncoming traffic, driving onto sidewalks or medians, and excessive weaving or tailgating. This also applies to performing ‘tricks’ while driving, like standing up through a sunroof, driving without hands on the wheel, or leaning outside the window.
All of these behaviors may be given extra weight during a court proceeding when deciding how much the other driver deserves to pay (on top of what you deserve to receive).
Lead Car Fault
Though rare, sometimes the car that gets rear-ended is the one at fault. This may be the case in instances of ‘brake-checking’ where the car in front slams on their brakes without a valid reason, or if the lead car suddenly reverses.
If you are forced to rear-end someone else due to their unreasonable behavior or because their car’s equipment fails (broken tail lights that mean you can’t tell they’re braking, a failure to signal with hazard lights if they have mechanical problems), it may be in your best interest to contact a lawyer who can make sure to properly assess liability.
Accidents can happen even when everyone is doing their best responsibly. However, when accidents occur due to knowingly irresponsible behavior, it matters.
If your accident requires legal action, these are circumstances your lawyer may investigate on your behalf.
When Do You Need a Rear-End Accident Attorney?
After a rear-ended accident, attorneys like the ones at D’Amico Law Offices who have extensive knowledge and proven experience in personal injury cases could greatly assist your needs. We are equipped to help you pursue just compensation beyond the initial insurance payouts you may receive after a rear-end accident.
Hiring an attorney to explore further consideration may be appropriate if:
Accident insurance doesn’t cover all your healthcare treatments.
If you suffer a whiplash injury, for example, your follow-up treatments could include elements of chiropractic care and massage that insurance companies may not cover.
Furthermore, the care you receive initially may not prevent the need for life-long care for injuries like knee impact injuries sustained when a person’s knees hit their dashboard during a collision.
Such injuries may cause a limp or pain that never fully disappears, and these are relatively minor injuries compared to something like sustaining a traumatic brain injury. Damage to the brain can alter one’s very personality, and compensating for such harm may require a nuanced consideration before a judge.
Damages to your vehicle reduce its performance and/or value.
Fender-benders and other aesthetic damages are one thing, but if an accident impacts the workings of your vehicle (the axle, engine, etc.), even if you get the proper repairs, the car’s performance may be diminished and its resale value lowered considerably.
A lawyer with accident experience may help foresee these issues and help you win further cost coverage.
You lose time, opportunities, and/or peace of mind due to the accident.
A car accident can cause rippling disturbances in your life. Maybe you’ll miss a road trip you were planning to go on later in the year because your vehicle has become unreliable.
Perhaps the emotional and psychological repercussions of an accident cause you fear and anxiety while driving. This could then lead you to skip activities you used to relish, like whimsical trips to the grocery store for treats, going on dates, driving around aimlessly to see holiday lights or changing leaves, etc.
These are damages resulting from a rear-end collision just as real as the damages that show on your car or on your body. They deserve to be accounted for too.
You lose a loved one to crash-related injuries or complications
The subtle repercussions of an accident may be hard to identify without professional consultation, but drastic losses of life are clear, and they call out for justice.
If you have lost a loved one due to a rear-end accident, we encourage you to let a lawyer to fight for your legal rights and compensations so that you can focus on the pressing work of processing your grief.
Are You In an At-Fault or a No-Fault State?
Here is another aspect of rear-end accident recovery you may not be aware of: the difference between ‘no-fault’ and ‘at-fault’ states. Each state makes its own determination regarding whether to require no-fault insurance for motorists. Most states are at-fault, meaning they require that the insurance carrier for the driver who is responsible for the accident must cover the costs of injuries and damage.
Multi-car accidents may be complicated enough (even in at-fault states) that two or more drivers are assigned some portion of responsibility. However, the nature of rear-end accidents often results in a clear-cut assignment of blame to a sole party.
Unfortunately, in the 12 no-fault states, each party involved in a car accident still needs to file a claim with their own insurance company. The average settlement for rear-end accidents varies from state to state for this reason.
It also means that through no fault of your own, your insurance premiums may increase.
The following 12 states are no-fault states:
- New Jersey
- New York
- North Dakota
D’Amico Law Offices offer services in no-fault Pennsylvania, and may be able to help you account for the costs you could incur with your own insurance coverage, after an accident during which you did nothing wrong.
An experienced rear-end accident injury lawyer can support, protect, and advocate for you after a collision in which you did nothing wrong.
Contact a Rear-End Accident Lawyer Today
As a family-run firm, we at D’Amico Law Offices prioritize the human cost our clients and their loved ones suffer when they are injured. Whether you’re hurt at work, due to medical malpractice, or in an auto accident, healing takes time, and we’re here to offer our support.
For those in Pittsburgh and the surrounding Pennsylvania/West Virginia area, D’Amico Law Offices can be reached by calling (412) 652-9300, or via our online contact page. Tell us about your specific circumstances, and we may be able to help remove the burden of worry right away by providing a free consultation.
Accidents are bound to happen in life. If you’ve been involved in a rear-end collision and need assistance, the right attorney could make a world of difference in how quickly and comfortably you recover.
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*Not actual clients or representatives of the firm