Car accidents occur in various ways, from head-on collisions, high speed, side-impact, fender benders to rear-end accidents, these scenarios are endless. The most common type of car accident in San Diego is rear-end accidents. It mostly happens when one car rear-ends another. There is a stereotyped presumption that all rear-end accidents are always the fault of the driver who rear-ended the vehicle in front. It may not always be the truth. The liability of the rear-end accident is not systematic. Sometimes it is the fault of the driver ahead or maybe another vehicle (third party). If you are injured in this situation, contact the San Diego Personal Injury Law Firm. We are here to assist you with professional guidance that can lead to a successful outcome.

What is a Rear-End Collision?

When a car crashes into the one in front of it, we call it a rear-end collision. They are not usually fatal but impact your life significantly. A rear-end crash can happen when you are driving, parked, or stopped at an intersection. At times there is a three-car collision, and one car is sandwiched between two vehicles. In this situation, the sandwiched driver cannot be held responsible for rear-ending the front vehicle.

What are Common Causes of Rear-End Collisions?

You can be the most careful driver, but it is impossible to avoid being hit by another car from behind. Drivers should use the two-second rule cautionary when driving behind another vehicle. By doing so, the driver will have enough time to stop, avoiding hitting the car in front. Rear-end accidents also happen at the stop sign where a vehicle rolls into another. This can be due to brake failure or failure to apply enough force on brakes.

Some of the most common causes of rear-end accidents include:

  • Inattentive driving

  • Driving under the influence

  • Using a mobile phone while driving

  • Following too closely

  • Poor weather conditions

  • Fatigued driver

  • Adverse weather conditions

  • Fast acceleration

  • High speed

Distracted driving is the most common cause of rear-end collisions. The distraction makes the driver make slower reactions sometimes because they may not know when the car in front is slowing down or stopping. Some drivers neglect to stop signs or lights, causing the driver to remove pressure from the brakes.

Injuries Sustained From Rear-End Collisions

Rear-end collisions cause some severe injuries for both the passengers and the vehicle drivers. The accidents take the victims by surprise. Jarring them suddenly as they idle at stopping traffic. Some may live without a sign of injury at all, but some live a permanent impact. Some of the common injuries include:

  • Facial injuries and disfigurement

  • The spinal cord, muscles and tendons injuries

  • Traumatic brain generated from the jerking motion

  • Head trauma (severe concussions)

  • Partial or full paralysis

  • Whiplash

  • Bruising

  • Lacerations

  • Soft tissue damage lacerations

Almost every car has a crumple zone where it absorbs the energy impact in a collision. Those cars that operate without crumple zones, the likes of Minivan and Smart-Car, put the passengers at risk of getting more severe injuries like broken bones, neck, or spinal cord injuries. Note that this type of accident may not be immediately apparent. They may take a day or days to produce any pain or distressing symptoms following your accident. It is always advisable to seek medical attention soon after the collision to complete recovery and protect your claim just in case you seek legal compensation.

Death of a Loved One From The Rear-End Collision

The surviving family members could file a claim under the wrongful death laws if a life partner or a parent died in the rear-end collision. The damages compensated in a wrongful death lawsuit include funeral expenses, lost wages, loss of companionship, support, and affection. The family members should be close to deserving compensation. They should be:

  • Life partners

  • Domestic partners

  • Kids

  • Grandchildren if their parents are not there

  • Parents

  • Sisters and brothers

Establishing Fault in Rear-End Collisions

The conditions of the accident determine liability to rear-end collisions. As usual, the car behind is most likely to be considered partially negligent of the crash. The rear driver is deemed to be negligent if the actions that caused the accident to fall short of what a reasonable person would do. All drivers owe each other a duty to exercise care when driving. Here are several ways in which a driver can breach their duty of responsible care:

  • Not stopping at a reasonable time

  • Being inattentive on the road

  • Driving at unreasonable speed without minding the road condition

  • Unable to control the car

  • Failure to follow a safe distance

  • Not using turn signals

  • Failure to back down the right way

The leading driver may also share liability if he/she contributed to the accident. For instance, an over-speeding driver can rear hit another car at the stop sign. The driver in front might have broken brakes and failed to indicate slowing down. For this reason, that driver leading is at fault for not showing taillights indication for slowing down. Hence, the driver is at fault for the damages incurred on the other car as well as the injured passengers. The following are ways in which the driver in front is liable either by negligence or recklessness, including:

  • Driving while drunk

  • Breaking suddenly

  • Knowingly driving with broken brakes

  • Trying to get hit intentionally

  • Abruptly backing out ahead of another vehicle

  • Reversing into the rear car

Due to unavoidable circumstances, the lead car can break all of a sudden, prompting the rear vehicle to hit it. The rear driver may hold the lead driver responsible. However, the driver behind can be considered guilty of the collision. Drivers should keep distance in case of emergencies and pay close attention to the road. The driver will notice the front car slowing or stopping if driving carefully. Space depends on the state of the road at that moment. Those conditions include and not limited to:

  • Wet weather

  • Driving at night

  • Weight of the car

  • Traffic signs; stop and go

  • Soft pedal

  • Unsteady gravel

Distracted driving is most likely as a result of using handsets. However, the driver can be distracted by anything that brings distraction from their responsibility at that time. Other distractions include:

  • Tuning the radio to a preference channel

  • Checking on maps and direction

  • Adjusting a seat

  • Lighting up a cigarette

  • Driving while eating

  • Reading a text, newspaper or blog

  • Watching a video

The lead driver who breaks suddenly could be negligent while driving and prompted the accident. He or she is liable for the accident if:

  • The driver had broken brakes

  • The driver intentionally braked to get hit and claim insurance

  • Carelessly slammed on breaks because of being frustrated

When a car abruptly backs out without signaling the behind car and eventually gets hit, the case becomes tricky. The lead driver who pulled out could be at fault as well as the other driver that failed to keep distance. The following specific facts will determine who is at fault:

  • The speed used

  • Conditions of the road

  • The driver's failure to indicate a change of lanes and turns

  • Traffic rules

  • Markings on the pathway (passing a continuous yellow line)

A driver turns left without minding an oncoming vehicle or has a change of mind, and making an unlawful about-turn can cause a rear-end accident. The driver should slow down and give way to approaching vehicles from the other side until the road is clear for a safe turn. If the said driver does not exercise safety and is hit, the lead driver who made an abrupt turn is said to be careless and is responsible for both injuries and damages.

In some cases, multiple vehicles can be involved in rear-end collisions. It includes a chain reaction, the car behind crashes the lead car, and the chain goes on and on. The first car that hit the lead car is always held accountable for the collision. However, in this situation, the other vehicles involved could also be liable. The liability could be held wholly or partially by:

  • A reckless driver

  • Hazardous road conditions

  • Obstruction by an outrider or a pedestrian

  • An uncontrolled animal running out in the street or

  • A manufacturer's failure to install vehicle brakes correctly

It is not always clear on who is at fault when rear-end accidents involve multiple parties. They may have conflicting versions of who is to blame and what occurred. The jury in a motor vehicle accident lawsuit will often decide on negligence and liability. Unfortunately, innocent victims end up being wrongly accused. Our team of lawyers at San Diego Personal Injury Law Firm will fight for your rights, to avoid false accusations.

What To Do After a Rear-End Collision

It is obvious when an accident occurs you will be visibly shaken or get in a state of shock. No matter the circumstances, do not leave the accident scene. It is also crucial to take smart actions effectively. Safely pull over without obstructing traffic and be aware of any potential dangers like fire. We advise our clients to do the following immediately after the car accident occurs:

  • Call 911 and report the accident the location

  • Seek medical attention regardless of the state of injuries. Some medical conditions do not show up signs immediately

  • Take pictures and videos, if possible, of the connected vehicles, specifically the rear of your car and the front of the other vehicle that hit yours

  • Inform your auto insurance company to obtain a no-fault claim for medical expenses

  • Do not sign any document without consulting one of our lawyers

  • Do not also record any statement with the insurer

  • Talk to willing witnesses and passengers, have them write down what they saw and heard. The information should be similar to yours. Have them sign and put their contact and the actual date of the accident on their statements

  • Be careful not to get treated by the personal injury doctors. They do unnecessary questionable treatments that hike your bills. You might not be able to raise the expenses as the insurance only caters to a reasonable amount based on common standards

How To Seek Compensation After Rear-End Accident Injuries

Compensation for rear-end accident injuries includes all costs and losses connected to the accident. Having learned how challenging it is to conclude the person liable to the damage, it is crystal clear you cannot do it on your own. You need a personal injury attorney to assist you in analyzing specific accident factors to determine liability in your case.

The first step in claiming compensation is by filing an insurance company claim. The claim needs to be litigated in court. Generally, the insurance company of an at-fault driver will offer an out of court settlement to the injured party. The court process can oftentimes be expensive and time-consuming, and especially difficult. It would be wise to engage with a personal injury lawyer as the insurance's first offer could be inadequate.

Insurance companies’ main aim is to maximize profits. They would want to save as much as possible and compensate as low as possible to achieve the profit-maximizing goal. The compensation offered should be enough to cater for the medical costs incurred in treating your injuries as well as cater for damaged property. An attorney will help you seek compensation for your pain and suffering, aspects that are not easily quantifiable.

The main issue to consider how much you should receive as the settlement will be is the financial loss that occurred as a result of the rear-end crash. Most preferably start with your health and that of the passengers, if any, and the property(car) damage. How much it will cost to repair the damaged vehicle. Depending on the extent of injuries, you are entitled to receive compensation for the full value of the car.

It is not immediately apparent as to how much you should be compensated. A personal injury attorney will help you comprehend the types of settlements and judgments that have been used in California. The more your extensive injuries and property, the higher the level of compensation.

Below is a list of aspects of the rear-end collisions case that ultimately determine the level of compensatory damages:

Medical and Related Expenses

You need to have all medical-related costs after the accident. They include:

  • Ride from ambulance

  • Hospital admission

  • Physical therapy

  • Physical and mental/suffering

  • Prescribed physical and mental pains

  • Rehabilitation

  • Home care

Property Damage

The cost of a car repair depends on the model of the car and if spare parts are readily available. Some damages are cheaper, such as repairing a bumper. But there could be substantial damages that are concealed. Therefore, it is good to have your vehicle thoroughly checked after the rear-end accident by a mechanic.

Lost Income

Lost wages is a crucial factor when considering potential injuries in the rear-end accident. This will be determined by how long you stayed without work and the extent the injury has affected your ability to work. The level of lost income also varies with the sort of work you do. For instance, if you are a messenger and broke your leg, your lost wages will be higher than that of a person who works while sitting at a desk.

Pain and Suffering

Pain and suffering refers to the physical and mental damages one experiences after a rear-end collision. Monetary compensation can be awarded as damages for your pain and suffering caused by an injury in your life. The more severe, the higher the payment.

Statute of Limitations In Rear-End Collisions

Having been injured in the rear-end crash, you need to file a personal injury claim. The Statute of Limitations offers two years from the date of injury to claim compensation as the limit within which you should ile a personal injury claim. Once the period expires, either through settlement, with an insurance company or the other drivers, your matter will not be presented in court. They are kept in place to protect the plaintiff from having evidence disappear over time, set things right, and recover their losses.

You must concentrate on your healing and have our lawyers from San Diego Personal Injury Law Firm to help you. Contacting us on time will help us to have enough time to build a strong case for maximum compensation to avoid the last-minute rush.

However, there are some instances where the court will accept a claim later after time elapses. These include:

  • The victim went into a coma - If the accident was fatal, that made the victim not able to take legal actions, the period for action may be set from the time the victim regained consciousness

  • The victim is not of age - A minor cannot be challenged in court. The victim needs to stay until he or she turns 18

  • The damage was not discovered immediately - Some medical conditions do not show-up signs directly. In this situation, the court will give another date

Filing a Rear-End Accident Lawsuit

Filing a lawsuit is filing a complaint with the court. The trial is a threat to insurance companies. It outlines the rear-end accident, damages sustained, and the legal basis. Once the victim is done with filing the complaint, the lawsuit officially begins.

Afterward, the defendant will be served with a notice of being sued. This should be within 30 days of the lawsuit filing. The notice has to provide details such as the reasons for suing the defendant and the time the defendant has to respond to the suit. This is the time the offender has the opportunity to respond to the summons and either agree or disagree. The defendant, too, can find a good lawyer for representation.

The lawyers will typically rely on shreds of evidence such as eyewitness testimonies, police reports, video surveillance, accident reconstruction experts statements, medical records, and medical practitioners’ testimony. All this is meant to prove that the defendant was responsible for the fatal accident.

Few cases go to trial, and the court orders that the defendant pay punitive damages, although it is infrequent to be granted punitive damages. The primary purpose of punitive damages is to punish the wrongdoers and serve as a warning to other drivers who are also reckless. Punitive damages are often much higher than compensatory damages as they are not based on losses.

In most cases, the insurance company will continue to negotiate with the victim even after the situation at the court. The lawsuit can be settled outside the court with an agreement from both sides. Insurance companies fight tooth and nail to ensure that they do not go to court unless it is unavoidable. A personal injury lawyer can advise you on whether filing a lawsuit is a smart idea.

How a San Diego Personal Injury Lawyer Can Help

When a rear-end accident results in a fatal accident, you must speak to an attorney. Do not try to handle your injury claim alone. The process can be confusing and overwhelming if you are not familiar with these cases. When you work with us, we will:

  • File a claim for compensation with the insurance company on your behalf

  • Gather strong evidence to establish your innocence including hiring accidents reconstruction experts

  • Calculate the full amount of compensation that you deserve

  • Make sure that all paperwork is filed on time and a proper way

  • Execute all legal work associated with your case as you focus on your healing

Find a San Diego Personal Injury Law Firm Near Me

Rear-end collisions are prevalent in San Diego. It would be a frightening and traumatic experience when caught in one, especially if a driver rear-ended you. If you or your loved one suffers serious injuries from rear-end accidents, our San Diego Personal Law Firm team is always ready to help. Keep in touch with us at 619-478-4059. We are experienced personal injury attorneys and proudly work towards getting our clients the justice they deserve. We will strive to ensure that you get the maximum possible settlement.