What to Do if a Car Hits You From Behind

November 8, 2023 | Gary Annes
What to Do if a Car Hits You From Behind

A rear-end accident happens when a driver negligently causes the front of their vehicle to hit the back of another vehicle.

The driver and passengers may suffer severe injuries when a vehicle gets hit from behind. This is especially true if there is a significant amount of force involved. 

The force of a rear-end accident may cause soft tissue neck and back contusions and other serious injuries from the collision.

What to Do if a Car Hits You From Behind

If you recently suffered injuries in a rear-end car accident, you need to obtain legal support as quickly as possible. A knowledgeable car accident lawyer in Chicago can investigate your accident, obtain a copy of the police report, and obtain other documents necessary to prove your case.

Your lawyer may negotiate with insurance company representatives for a favorable settlement offer. If that does not happen, your lawyer can file a personal injury lawsuit in court.

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Common Injuries in a Rear-end Accident

When a forceful rear-end accident occurs, the occupants of the front vehicle often suffer the more severe injuries.

An accident victim's injuries may depend on the speeds of the involved vehicles, whether the front vehicle was moving or stationary, and the accident victim's bodily movements inside their vehicle at the point of impact.

In addition to suffering whiplash injuries in a rear-end accident, the force of a collision may cause a part of the accident victim's body to strike a vehicle component, such as the steering wheel, window, door, or headrest, leading to additional injuries.

Some of the most common injuries that rear-end accident victims may suffer are rib fractures, open lacerations, broken bones, muscular contusions, traumatic brain injuries, internal bleeding, bruises, internal organ damage, complete and incomplete paralysis injuries, full and partial spinal cord injuries, facial injuries, scars, and mouth and teeth injuries.

Upon suffering any of these injuries in a rear-end collision, you should consult a medical professional as soon as possible and follow through with your entire medical treatment regimen.

Completing your medical treatment increases your chances of achieving a favorable medical and monetary recovery. Meanwhile, your car accident lawyer can investigate your case, gather documents, and assemble a settlement demand package on your behalf. Once your medical treatment ends, your lawyer can handle settlement negotiations with the at-fault driver's insurance company.

How Do Tailgate Accidents Happen?

Tailgate or rear-end accidents frequently occur when other drivers behave irresponsibly or carelessly, given the circumstances.

One common cause of rear-end accidents is excessive speeding. When a driver speeds, especially in heavy traffic conditions or inclement weather, they may be unable to stop their vehicle in time to avoid striking another vehicle.

Additionally, these accidents may happen when drivers fail to leave enough stopping distance between the front of their vehicle and the back of another vehicle.

Another common cause of rear-end accidents is distracted driving. When a driver fails to watch the road attentively and look ahead, they might fail to notice an abrupt traffic backup, negligently causing the front of their vehicle to hit the back of another vehicle.

Distracted drivers frequently turn their eyes away from the road to engage in other activities, including applying makeup, combing their hair, eating or drinking, roughhousing with vehicle passengers, programming a GPS navigation device, or texting on a cellular phone or tablet.

Rear-end accidents can also happen when people drive in a particularly aggressive or egregious manner. This type of driving is often called road rage and may happen when a driver tailgates another vehicle, cuts off another vehicle in traffic, or attempts to pass another vehicle.

When an enraged driver is not paying close attention to what they are doing, they can easily cause the front of their vehicle to run into another. Additionally, these reckless driving maneuvers may lead to a massive vehicle pileup or collisions involving multiple vehicles.

If you suffered injuries in a rear-end accident that resulted from one of these types of negligence, speak with a car accident lawyer in your area as quickly as possible. Your attorney will be ready to investigate the circumstances of your accident and can explore all your legal options with you.

Additionally, your attorney can weigh the pros and cons of those options so that you can make an intelligent and informed decision about how best to proceed with your case.

What Should You Do After Leaving the Scene of a Rear-end Crash?

After leaving the scene of a rear-end accident, you need to take several necessary steps.

First, you need to obtain medical attention for your injuries. When a medical provider examines you, they might recommend future treatment.

For example, depending on your injuries, you may need to obtain additional imaging studies, consult with a medical specialist, undergo a medical procedure (such as surgery), or attend physical therapy.

Following through with your medical treatment increases your chances of achieving a favorable medical recovery. 

Scene of a Rear-end Crash

Also, suppose you later file a personal injury claim or lawsuit. In that case, your continued medical treatment shows the insurance company that your injuries are serious, that you took your medical treatment seriously, and that you deserve to recover favorable monetary compensation for your injuries.

However, suppose your treatment record contains significant gaps or you self-discharge from a medical facility. In that case, the insurance company may be skeptical of your injuries and refuse to compensate you fairly.

Also, you need to gather and retain essential documents for your case after your car accident. Those documents include copies of police reports, medical treatment records, medical bills, and property damage photographs.

Police reports are especially helpful because they usually describe how the accident happened and the police officer's assessment of who was at fault in the accident. The police report will also typically note whether the officer issued the at-fault driver a citation and, if so, the reason for the citation.

The insurance company handling your case will also likely review your medical treatment records, medical bills, and property damage photographs to determine your case's likely settlement or verdict value.

Once you complete your medical treatment, your lawyer can submit these documents to the insurance company for evaluation and review.

It is also essential to retain any contact information from car accident witnesses. Once you retain a lawyer, you should forward that information to your attorney.

Next to seeking the medical treatment you need after your rear-end accident, your most important step is to retain a skilled car accident attorney to represent you as quickly as possible.

Ideally, you want a lawyer who regularly handles car accident cases as a significant portion of their law practice. You also want a lawyer with a strong track record of success in settling car accident claims and litigating them to a conclusion in court.

Your lawyer can handle the various legal components of your case for you and work to maximize the settlement or litigation compensation you receive for your injuries.

How a Lawyer Can Handle Your Case After a Car Accident

Once you retain an experienced car accident attorney to represent you in your case, they can handle various steps for you.

Some of the most important ways that a skilled personal injury lawyer in Chicago can handle your case include:

  • Gathering necessary documentation and assembling a settlement demand package for the insurance company to review
  • Aggressively negotiating with insurance company adjusters by highlighting the strengths of your personal injury case, downplaying any case weaknesses, and threatening the insurance company with litigation if they refuse to compensate you fairly
  • Representing you during all legal proceedings, such as a civil jury trial or alternative dispute resolution (ADR) proceeding
  • Exploring the various litigation options in your case, such as trial, mediation, or binding arbitration, and determining which option is likely in your best interest
  • Answering all your questions along the way and keeping you aware of any updates in your case

Recoverable Monetary Damages for Rear-end Car Accidents

Victims of car accidents may suffer severe injuries due to another driver's negligence. To recover monetary compensation and damages, a rear-end car accident victim must establish the various legal elements of their claim.

First, they must demonstrate that the other driver operated their vehicle carelessly and unreasonably under the circumstances, for example, by violating one or more traffic laws, engaging in distracted driving, or operating their vehicle while under the influence of alcohol.

Additionally, the accident victim needs to show that as a direct result of the other driver's negligence, their accident occurred, and their physical injuries resulted. 

Once you establish a connection between an accident and the victim's various physical injuries, the accident victim often hires a medical expert. The medical expert must state in writing or on the witness stand, to a reasonable degree of medical certainty, that the claimed injury or injuries directly resulted from the accident. A medical provider can also determine that a particular injury is permanent and unlikely to improve.

Car accident victims who establish these legal elements can receive monetary damages for their losses. The damage award that an accident victim obtains will depend upon multiple factors, including the cost of their medical treatment and the nature and extent of their injuries.

In general, accident victims who suffer permanent injuries can recover higher monetary damages than accident victims who suffer less severe injuries.

First, accident victims can recover their related past and anticipated medical costs if they suffered a permanent injury in their accident.

Anticipated medical costs may compensate an accident victim for a future medical procedure, for instance, surgery. If they miss time from work, they may receive compensation for all their lost income. If they had to switch to light-duty work and take a pay cut, they may recover monetary compensation for their loss of earning capacity.

Accident victims may also receive monetary compensation for their intangible losses, including loss of use of a body part, lost quality of life, loss of spousal consortium, inconvenience, mental distress, pain and suffering, permanent disability or disfigurement, and ongoing care costs.

Your attorney can determine your case's likely settlement or verdict value based on the circumstances.

Talk With a Skilled Car Accident Lawyer Near You Today

If you recently suffered injuries in a rear-end car accident, time is of the essence. Accident victims only have two years from their accident date to file a lawsuit seeking monetary recovery, under the state statute of limitations.

If an accident victim has not filed a claim or lawsuit on time, the court will prohibit them from recovering any monetary damages. Therefore, you need to retain a skilled attorney to represent you as soon as possible after your accident.

Your attorney can start working on your case immediately, even while you complete your accident-related medical treatment. Your lawyer can aggressively negotiate with insurance company representatives or litigate your case to a fair and efficient resolution, ensuring you receive the monetary compensation you deserve for your injuries.

Consultations with car accident lawyers are typically at no cost. This vital service allows accident victims to seek legal advice without financial burden. During the consultation, the lawyer will evaluate the details of the case, including liability, damages, and potential avenues for compensation. They will also inform the client of their rights and advise on the best course of action.

This initial meeting serves as an opportunity for both parties to assess the viability of pursuing a legal claim. Importantly, it enables the victim to make an informed decision about engaging legal representation.

If they must pursue a claim or lawsuit, most car accident lawyers operate on a contingency fee basis, meaning they only charge if they win the case, further alleviating financial strain for the victim.

Contact a lawyer near you for more information today.

Gary Annes Author Image

Gary Annes


Personal Injury Lawyer With Over Twenty Years Of Experience

Gary Annes, a partner at Abels & Annes, P.C., has dedicated over two decades to practicing personal injury law, specializing in auto accidents, premises liability, wrongful death, medical malpractice, and sexual abuse. Since earning his law degree in 1995, Gary has led numerous jury trials, and adeptly resolved cases through arbitration and mediation, securing millions in compensation for his clients.

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