The number of rear-end crashes are gradually increasing in Los Angeles. Often, victims of rear-end collisions sustain severe neck and back injuries. These injuries are taken very seriously by both the medical and legal communities. However, some insurers may fail to give them the attention they deserve and offer a little amount of money as compensation to the victims.
Get in touch with us at The LA Personal Injury Law Firm if you or your loved one was a victim of a rear-end accident. Our attorneys can assist you in filing a claim for compensation at the insurance company of the at-fault party.
Also, we will aggressively negotiate with the insurance company to enable you to obtain fair compensation. We can also institute a civil claim at the courthouse if the insurance company is adamant about paying you what you deserve. With us by your side, you will be able to completely focus on your recovery as well as obtain the most favorable terms for compensation.
How Common are Rear-end Collisions?
As per the Washington Post, the total number of rear-end collisions each year in the USA is around 1.7 million. From these crashes, approximately 500,000 individuals suffer severe injuries, and about 17,000 individuals die.
According to the NHTSA, the total percentage of rear-end crashes in comparison to the number of auto crashes is 29%. Also, as per the NTSB, rear-end crashes are quite prevalent in the USA, and they constitute almost 50% of the aggregate number of multi-vehicle crashes.
What Causes Rear-end Accidents?
Unfortunately, no matter how careful you are while driving, you might still be a victim of a rear-end accident. Rear-end accidents are mostly brought about by negligence. Here are the leading causes of rear-end accidents in California:
California's traffic laws prohibit speeding. However, speeding remains to be a leading cause of auto accidents in California, including rear-end collisions. When a person drives at excessive speeds on a busy highway, he/she will be unable to slow down or halt in case of a sudden stop by the motor vehicle driver ahead of him/her. This will increase the risk of a rear-end collision.
Just like speeding, California’s traffic laws also prohibit tailgating. As per California’s traffic laws, it is unlawful for a motorist to follow another motorist at a close distance. Motor vehicle drivers must maintain a reasonable distance between each other, and the distance should be wide enough to allow sufficient stopping time.
A motorist who is following another motorist at a close distance can easily cause a crash. This is because he/she will not have enough stopping time when the motorist ahead of him/her makes an abrupt stop.
- Sudden Stops
Sudden stops indirectly contribute to the occurrence of rear-end collisions. When the front motorist stops suddenly, and the driver behind him/her is either speeding or tailgating, a rear-end crash can easily happen.
It is easy to blame the front motorist when a rear-end crash happens due to an abrupt stop. However, California courts are usually reluctant to put automatic blame on the front motorist, and they may require the plaintiff to prove how the front driver caused the accident. This is because judges are aware that drivers may stop suddenly due to various reasons, including personal emergencies, construction, roadside accidents, and police activity, among others.
- Distracted Driving
Motorists should completely focus on the highway while driving. As per California’s traffic laws, it is unlawful to do any of the activities listed below while driving:
- Wearing makeup
- Utilizing mobile phones
- Talking to a passenger
- Listening to an audiobook or music
Distracted driving is a leading cause of rear-end collisions in the United States. Motorists who practice distracted driving usually find themselves unable to prevent crashes due to their low reaction time and poor concentration.
- Bad Weather
Adverse weather conditions such as rain, slush, fog, ice, and high winds may bring about poor visibility. Due to poor visibility, a motor vehicle driver may not be able to decipher that another motorist is ahead or behind him/her. This driver may unknowingly tailgate the front motorist or utilize the wrong lane, increasing the risk of a rear-end crash.
- Intoxicated Driving
A motor vehicle driver who is intoxicated may have a slow reaction time, and poor judgment and concentration capacity. Such a driver may inaccurately measure distance or speed, or even hallucinate or doze off while driving, increasing the chances of a crash.
Most Common Injuries in Rear-end Accidents
Rear-end accidents often result in fatal neck and back injuries. In the most unfortunate circumstances, some victims may die or suffer permanent disability or disfigurement.
How Neck and Back Injuries Occur
Neck and back injuries can occur in a rear-end accident when the spinal cord breaks. A person who has sustained this type of injury may take a long time to recover, as well as face a high risk of suffering from disfigurement, permanent disability, or chronic pain.
The severity level of neck and back injuries in a rear-end collision depends typically on the impact force of the accident. Consequently, the higher the impact force, the more severe the bodily injury. Sometimes, seatbelts and airbags may be able to reduce the impact force of the accident, thus causing less severe injuries.
During a crash, the vehicle’s occupants may tend to move backward and forward quickly and repeatedly, and at the same time continuously rub their bodies on the seatbacks. This motion can cause a back or neck injury.
Each human being is created with facet joints. The primary role of these facet joints is to join spinal vertebrae to each other. Also, they help an individual to bend or twist, and increase the overall flexibility of the body’s skeletal system. A constant backward and forward movement of an individual during an accident may make the facet joints fall out of place. This will alter the position of the spinal vertebrae, causing either neck or back injuries.
Types of Back and Neck Injuries
You will most likely sustain the following types of back and neck injuries if you were a victim of a rear-end crash:
- Herniated Discs
You may suffer from herniated discs if the facet joints that connect the spinal vertebrae fall out of place because of constant friction caused by the backward and forward movement in a rear-end accident. Some medics refer to herniated discs as slipped discs. Slipped discs carry with it the possibility of long-lasting pain and numbness.
You may sustain a whiplash if your head is jerked suddenly during the crash. As a victim, it might be difficult for you to discern whether you have sustained a whiplash after you have been involved in a collision. This is why you need to visit a qualified doctor for a medical check-up after the accident, even if you believe that you are in perfect health.
Whiplashes might be both mild and severe. Because they are hard to detect, most insurance companies frequently downplay them, and they can falsely accuse you of fraud if you do not have valid medical proof that you sustained one, such as an X-ray photo.
- Spinal Cord Injuries
You can sustain different injuries of the spinal cord if you were an occupant of a smashed car. These injuries can be either mild or severe. You can quickly recover from mild spinal cord injuries if you visit a doctor on time. On the other hand, severe spinal cord injuries can result in permanent or temporary paralysis.
- Spinal Fractures
Victims of rear-end collisions caused by speeding are most likely to sustain spinal fractures. The constant back and forth movement of the head and neck during a rear-end accident may result in vertebral brakes and spinal fractures. Sometimes, the vertebral nerves may be compressed, resulting in a condition known as Spondylolisthesis, where the victim feels long-lasting pain and numbness.
Other Bodily Injuries During a Rear-end Accident
A victim of a rear-end accident can sustain other bodily injuries, apart from back and neck injuries. Here are some of these injuries:
- Face and Head Injuries
Victims of rear-end collisions can sustain face and head injuries, especially if the primary cause of the crash was speeding. Often, a vehicle’s occupant may smash his/her face on a steering wheel. Depending on the magnitude of impact between the face and the wheel, it may result in nose breakage, the fracturing of cheeks and jawbones, and detachment of the retina. Some victims may be fortunate enough to sustain just minor cuts and bruises on their heads and faces.
- Seatbelt Injuries
The primary role of a seatbelt is to prevent you from sustaining a severe physical injury when a crash occurs. Though seatbelts are categorized as safety devices, they may cause minor bruises and scrapes to your shoulders, neck, and torso during a rear-end crash. This is because of the constant back and forth movement of the head and neck during a rear-end accident, which increases friction between the victim’s body and the seatbelt.
- Hand and Arm Injuries
Hand and arm injuries may occur due to the explosion of airbags, or when the occupants of the vehicle are whirled inside it during a high-impact rear-end collision. These injuries can be either mild or severe, but quite easy to detect.
Some types of physical injuries, such as hand and arm injuries, are easily detectable. Other bodily injuries, such as soft tissue injuries, are not easy to detect. A victim who has sustained a soft tissue injury in an accident may have a false belief that he/she is in perfect health after the crash.
Physical injuries that are not easily detectable manifest themselves in the form of specific signs and symptoms within several weeks or even months after the crash. Some examples of these delayed symptoms include:
- Neck and shoulder stiffness
- Back pain
This is why you must seek a thorough medical evaluation immediately after you leave the accident scene. If you don’t, you will experience these delayed symptoms. Moreover, some bodily injuries may worsen and increase the risk of death or permanent disability or paralysis if they are not treated on time.
Don’t panic if you did not visit a doctor, and you started experiencing these delayed symptoms. Although these symptoms symbolize that you may have sustained a physical injury, you should only depend on a qualified doctor to inform you if you suffered an injury, and its degree and extent. Also, it doesn’t mean that you were not injured if you didn’t experience any of the delayed symptoms.
How to Recover from Rear-end Collision Injuries
You should completely focus on your recovery if you sustained a physical injury during a crash. You can opt for the following treatments:
- Wearing Braces
You can put on braces to help cure back or neck injuries. The primary role of braces is to assist in the stabilization of your spinal cord and the entire skeletal system. They also help reduce your pain because they limit your movement.
- Physical Therapy
Neck and back injuries tend to reduce your motion power and flexibility. You may find yourself unable to walk, run, or engage in several sporting activities after you have been involved in a rear-end collision. This is why you will need a physical therapist to help you strengthen and rebuild your muscles.
- Heating Pads and Ice Packs
Heating pads help reduce muscle tension and eliminate pain. On the other hand, ice packs are generally utilized to reduce swelling.
- Pain Medication
You may require prescription pain killers if the over-the-counter options don’t work. Various pain medications are only available when you have a doctor's prescription. Generally, prescription painkillers are more effective when compared to over-the-counter painkillers. Your doctor can help you choose the best type of pain medication to boost recovery.
- Chiropractic Care
A chiropractor can boost your chances of recovery, as well as enable you to deal with pain management effectively. You may be obliged to cover the costs of the chiropractic care personally. Most insurance companies view chiropractic care to be a form of alternative medicine. Therefore, they may be unwilling to compensate you for it. You should speak with an attorney if you would like to include chiropractic care costs in your insurance claim for compensation.
Compensation for Rear-end Collision Victims
As per California’s personal injury laws, rear-end collision victims can recover damages for their damaged property and injuries from the at-fault party. Therefore, a victim must identify the at-fault party for him/her to receive compensation.
After you have identified the at-fault driver, you should file a claim for compensation with his/her insurance company. When the insurance company receives your claim, it may issue you with an offer for settlement.
As a general rule, you shouldn’t accept early settlement offers from insurance companies. Most insurers are in business to make quick bucks, and they may downgrade the value of your settlement and offer you the least amount of money possible as compensation. Also, some injuries do not manifest themselves immediately after the occurrence of the accident, and you may not be unable to receive compensation for them if you had already accepted an early settlement offer.
An attorney can enter into negotiations with the insurance company and lobby for a fair amount of money as compensation. In case the insurance company remains adamant, your attorney can institute a lawsuit to compel it to pay you the amount of money you deserve as compensation.
Rear-end Collision Personal Injury Lawsuits
You can institute a lawsuit to obtain compensation if you sustained an injury during a rear-end accident. Typically, personal injury lawsuits in the State of California are initiated via a complaint, a document that states all the facts and circumstances of the case.
Not all personal injury lawsuits in California reach the jury trial stage. In some of them, attorneys from both sides may negotiate with each other and agree on the most favorable terms for their clients. In others, the defendants may just opt to pay the plaintiff what he/she is demanding.
For you to win your lawsuit, you must identify the at-fault party, and explain how he/she was negligent. Note that the standard of proof required in personal injury lawsuits is on a balance of probabilities.
Liable Parties in a Rear-end Accident
It is usually the motor vehicle driver who had smashed into another car whom the jury will hold responsible for the crash. As a result, victims of the accident will be entitled to recover compensation from his/her insurance company.
However, the jury can still hold liable the individual driving the smashed car in the following instances:
- Driving a vehicle that had faulty parts
- Reversing suddenly
- Failing to utilize hazard lights
- Sudden stops with no valid reasons
In the above-listed circumstances, the front rear-ended driver can be held both partially and fully liable. If you are held partly responsible for the crash, you may still be able to recover damages as per California's comparative fault laws.
Proving your Claim after you have been involved in a Rear-end Accident
If you institute a personal injury lawsuit, the jury will require you to verify your claim on a scale of a balance of probabilities. Moreover, no insurance company can offer you a settlement amount if you do not have evidence to support your claim.
Generally, you should gather and collect evidence to show the following things to both the insurer and the court:
- You were involved in a crash
- How the at-fault party was negligent
- How the at-fault driver’s negligence contributed to the occurrence of the accident
- You sustained both physical and mental injuries in the accident
- The accident impacted your life and those of your loved ones negatively in various ways
As per California’s traffic laws, motor vehicle drivers have a legal duty of care to other road users. Motorists should exercise due diligence and reasonable care while driving, and also repair any faulty car parts and not break traffic laws. The court can punish a defendant for negligence when he/she breaks a traffic law, drives carelessly or recklessly, or fails to maintain his/her car in excellent working condition.
You should gather as much evidence as possible to help you prove your claim. Here is the most crucial evidence that you will require when filing an insurance claim for compensation or a personal injury lawsuit:
- Photographs and videos - Utilize your cellphone to take photos and videos of the accident scene and its surrounding areas. Don’t just take one photo or video; take numerous photos and videos from different angles.
- Medical records - You will need to show proof that you sustained bodily injuries. Ensure you receive proper documentation from a qualified doctor, including your medical bills, health evaluation reports, and written recommendations to seek the services of other professional caregivers, among others.
- Witness statements - Identify potential witnesses while still in the accident scene, and ask them to record or write what they saw or heard. Also, you should jot down their contact information.
- Police report - Call the police immediately after you have gotten out of the rear-ended vehicle. Inform them of your location, if some people have sustained injuries, and if there are other dangers or hazards at the scene. If they respond, you should request them a photocopy of the official police report.
Find a Personal Injury Attorney Near Me
You should receive compensation for your medical expenses, lost earnings, and other non-economic losses, including pain and suffering and mental anguish. Are you a victim of a rear-end accident in Los Angeles? If yes, don’t trust an insurance adjuster with your claim – he/she doesn’t care how the accident affected you and how much money you deserve as compensation.
Instead, get in touch with us at The LA Personal Injury Law Firm. We will help you obtain a fair compensation amount. You don’t have to pay any fee until you win. Call us now at 310-935-0089 to speak to an attorney.