Have You Been Injured in a Rear-End Accident?
Car accidents happen all the time. In the United States, a car accident happens every 3 seconds on average. And someone suffers injuries in a car accident every 7 seconds. Further, tragically someone dies in a car accident every 15 minutes.
Our Chicago rear-end accident lawyers are very aware that this type of collision is common and makes up about one-third of all crashes. Therefore￼, a rear-end accident occurs every 10 seconds on average.
Many rear-end accidents do not involve an injury. Some are harmless fender-benders which may leave only a small dent or not even a scratch on a vehicle. These types of minor accidents often occur in congested traffic, stop-and-go traffic, at a stoplight, or in parking lots.
Other rear end accidents, however, are more serious–particularly rear-end collisions that occur at high speeds. These types of accidents can cause serious and debilitating injuries.
Is Whiplash a Common Injury from a Rear-End Collision?
Rear-end collisions can lead to many kinds of injuries, including concussions, broken bones, and traumatic brain injuries. But the classic rear-end injury is whiplash.
When a person is hit from behind, the vehicle they are in accelerates forward rapidly. As the seat of the vehicle pushes forward, the occupant’s head often snaps back, as few drivers and passengers rest their heads against the headrest.
After the head initially snaps back, it can also snap forward again as the vehicle comes to rest. This unnatural “whipping” motion in the neck–in either direction–can result in the spinal injury known as whiplash.
While many stories have described victims of rear-end collisions faking or exaggerating a whiplash injury to collect insurance money, for anyone who has suffered from whiplash, the injury is far from superficial.
Contrary to popular belief, a person can sustain a serious whiplash injury even in a low speed impact where the vehicle damage seems minimal. How hard or fast the vehicle is hit is not always the only factor in determining the severity of a whiplash injury. Instead, the relevant issue is how extensive and violent the neck movement is with respect to the rest of the body.
What Are Symptoms of Whiplash from a Read-end Accident?
The symptoms of whiplash are not always immediately apparent to a car accident victim. Symptoms may appear immediately, or they may appear hours or even a full day later. These can include:
- Neck pain;
- Shoulder pain;
- Shooting pains down the arms, or across the neck and shoulders;
- Muscle spasms;
- Ringing in the ears;
- Shoulder pain;
- Trouble sleeping;
- Difficulty remembering or concentrating;
- Impaired vision;
- Weakness; or
- Loss of function in lower limbs.
Not every whiplash victim suffers all or even a majority of these symptoms. As a general rule, however, the more severe the whiplash, the sooner the symptoms will manifest themselves, and the more likely it is that the victim will suffer multiple symptoms.
Consequently, if you sustain injuries in a rear-ender you should seek immediate medical help. Further, whiplash may not show up in an x-ray, and may require a CT scan or an MRI.
How Can I Avoid Serious Injury from a Rear-End Collision?
While not all rear-end collisions can be prevented, there are steps that Chicago drivers can take to prevent many of the injuries that can occur as a result of rear-end collisions.
Using a Headrest to Prevent Injuries in a Rear-end Crash
For example, modern vehicles must conform to federal headrest and seat design standards that are specifically aimed at reducing the risk of neck or back injuries. Seats and headrests are not intended primarily for driver or passenger comfort, but to try to keep the head moving with the rest of the body in the event of an impact. Further, seats are designed to protect the spine from compression and the head from damage in the event of a rollover.
But in order to function correctly, drivers and passengers need to adjust their headrests so they can work properly when an accident happens.
Use a Seatbelt to Prevent Injuries in a Rear-end Crash
Drivers and passengers should always wear a seatbelt to help prevent injuries. Further, younger passengers should use car seats, booster seats, or other devices, such as seat belt clips, that are appropriate for their size and age.
Using Your Mirrors to Prevent Injuries in a Rear-end Crash
Drivers should always adjust their rear and side view mirrors correctly–and frequently check them–so that they are aware of what is going on behind and to the side of them when driving, and even when stopping or when parked. However, even the most careful drivers cannot usually avoid accidents or injuries when it comes to rear-end collisions. And nearly all rear-end collisions are caused by the driver who is in back.
What Causes Rear-End Accidents?
Here are some frequent causes of rear-end collisions in Chicago:
- An intoxicated driver who is unable to react in time to apply his brakes
- A tailgating driver
- A speeding driver who miscalculates his braking distance
- A driver who decides to “make the light” even when the driver in front has already applied his brakes
- A driver who is distracted by a cell-phone, a text message, food, or noisy children.
Who’s at Fault for a Rear-End Accident?
People frequently say that if you’re involved in a rear-end accident that it’s always the fault of the person who rear-ends the other vehicle(s), but is this actually true?
In almost all cases, it is. However, there are some rare circumstances where a rear-end accident is caused by the vehicle in front.
A rear-end collision may partially or wholly be the fault of the front driver who was rear-ended for these reasons:
- Driving with broken brake lights
- Reverses into the rear vehicle
- Has a roadside emergency and does not use their hazard lights
- Pulls out suddenly in front of another car
- Brakes aggressively (known as a “brake check”)
- Road rage
- Intentionally trying to get hit for insurance fraud
- Slows down suddenly to turn and then doesn’t turn
- Drunk driving
This is why it is so important to thoroughly investigate a rear-end accident. They are not always cut and dry. With a police report and witness statements, fault can be proven in circumstances like the examples above.
Even if it seems clear the read-end accident was not your fault, it’s always a good idea to have an attorney on your side. This will help ensure that you get maximum compensation for your damages. With an attorney working for you, you’ll also be able to spend more of your time recovering from your injuries instead of dealing with the insurance company and stressing out about your claim.
What to Do After You’re Involved in a Rear-end Accident
After you are involved in a rear-end car accident, there are certain steps you should take to protect yourself and any future compensation claim you may need to bring. These suggested steps are listed below:
- Move to a safe place. After you have been involved in a rear-end accident, the first thing you should do is make sure that nobody is in danger of any further harm. If possible, pull all vehicles to the side of the road, or get them as far out of the way of danger as possible. Second rear-end collisions, ones that occur after the initial accident, are common from “rubberneckers” or drivers distracted by watching the scene of an accident. In fact, one study from a book called 100 Most Dangerous Things in Everyday Life and What You Can Do About Them showed that rubbernecking was the cause of 16% of all distracted driving accidents.
- File a police report. Once everyone is deemed out of harm’s way, call 911. This is the very first thing that you should do after you’re involved in a rear-end accident (or any other motor vehicle accident). Other parties may try to talk you out of contacting the police, especially if it appears the accident is “not that bad.” Or, more nefariously, if they have a bad driving record, outstanding charges, or no insurance. As injuries can reveal themselves later down the road, filing a police report is always crucial. A completed police report can help your case greatly by providing an official record of the incident.
- Exchange information with the other driver(s). Make sure to get their insurance information and contact information. Be thorough about collecting this information. It is important.
- Speak to witnesses. If anyone witnessed the accident and is available, talk to them. Get their contact information and encourage them to stick around to speak to the police. A police report with a witness statement supporting your claims will be beneficial to a lawsuit down the road.
- Take pictures at the scene. Take pictures of your car, the other person’s car, your injuries, and the location at which the accident occurred. This will help establish a visual record to complement a police report and witness statements.
- Seek medical attention immediately. After you’ve gathered your own evidence, you should then head to the hospital or your doctor to receive treatment for any injuries. Even if you don’t believe that you’re seriously injured, you should still get checked out by a medical professional. Many car accident injuries are internal or are masked by adrenaline or shock. This unfortunately happens all too often, leading to delayed treatment for injuries. Further, delaying treatment for injuries may impact compensation from a lawsuit.
- Contact an experienced car accident attorney. Before filing a claim with your insurance company, you should contact a Chicago car accident attorney to help you with your case. You may unintentionally damage your case by speaking with the at-fault party’s insurance company. Insurance adjusters will try to pay as little as possible for accident injuries. They may try to get a statement from you in exchange for quick cash; this would be a mistake. Hiring an attorney can help ensure that you don’t inadvertently damage your own case.
What Kinds of Compensation Can I Receive?
When you’re injured in a rear-end car accident, you may be eligible to receive compensation for your damages. Damages refer to any losses you have experienced because of injuries that resulted from a personal injury incident, such as medical bills or lost wages.
Damages can be either economic or non-economic.
Economic damages refer to tangible losses a victim has incurred or will incur because of their accident, such as medical bills or lost wages. Economic damages are typically objective, because they can be easily documented and easily calculated. Besides medical bills and lost wages, economic damages also include property damage.
Non-economic damages are more subjective than economic damages. Common types of non-economic damages include pain and suffering, loss of consortium, and emotional distress. Disfigurement or disability can also be pursued as a type of non-economic damages.
This type of damages is calculated based on how much your life has changed, the severity of your injuries, past jury verdicts, and negotiations between the insurance company and your attorney.
Economic damages are meant to restore a person to their original condition; non-economic damages are meant to compensate an injured person for their pain, emotional distress, suffering, and other similar issues related to an accident.
Should I Settle My Case?
Deciding whether or not to settle your car accident case can be a big decision. It is also a nerve-racking decision because of how much is at risk.
Some of the reasons choosing whether or not to settle your case can be stressful include:
- Not knowing if you’re going to win your case at trial
- Missing out on other types of compensation you deserve
- Future medical problems and expenses that crop up after settlement
- Future wage losses that you cannot easily foresee
Typically, you should accept a settlement for your rear-end accident case when you and your lawyer agree that a fair offer of compensation for your injuries and damages has been made.
Sometimes this decision is made more difficult by the circumstances. For example, if you need money soon and you don’t want to wait while your attorney fights for you in court.
If our lawyers believe you have a strong case, accepting a settlement offer may mean you won’t receive the highest result possible. However, some clients prefer to have the peace of mind knowing they will get a set amount rather than taking a chance with a trial. There are always risks at trial, which is why it’s been said that a bad settlement is sometimes better than a good lawsuit.
Ultimately, the decision to settle—or not—is up to you. This decision should be made strictly between you and your attorney who has been overseeing your case since the beginning. If your attorney is experienced and has your best interests in mind, and they recommend that you take the settlement offer, it is likely because they believe it is your best option and that it will sufficiently compensate you for your rear-end accident.
Let the Car Accident Attorneys at Abels & Annes Help You Recovery From Your Rear-End Collision
If you have been injured, or someone you love has been injured or killed in a rear-end collision, the personal injury attorneys at Abels & Annes are here to help.
Whatever injury or damage you may have suffered, our experienced team of attorneys has the experience and knowledge necessary to make sure you recover all the damages to which you may be entitled. We can help you sift through the confusing and endless stream of insurance paperwork, medical bills, and other issues that can overwhelm you, particularly when you are trying to focus on recovering from your injuries.
With a simple phone call, the Chicago rear-end accident attorneys at Abels & Annes will be happy to give you a free consultation. Further, we will answer your questions and provide you the information you need to to move forward towards obtaining a recovery.
If you are the victim of a rear-end collision, contact Abels & Annes at (312) 924-7575, or use our online form here.
There are no hidden costs, and you will not pay a fee unless money is recovered for you, either through a lawsuit or an out-of-court settlement.
Call Abels & Annes today and find out how we can help you to get your life back on track!