Guide to Rear-End Car Accident Settlements in California

Guide to Rear-end Accident Settlements

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Rear-ending is one of the most common types of car collisions, and also one of the most injurious. In the US, about 1.7 million rear-end crashes occur each year, killing 1,700 people and injuring 500,000 more.

If you’ve been hurt in a rear-end collision, you may be able to claim compensation. Read these answers to some common questions you may have about making your claim.

Who is at fault in a rear-end crash in California?

Who is at-fault rear end crash

In most cases of rear-ending, the driver of the rear vehicle is at fault. However, this is not automatically true for all rear-end collisions. The front driver can sometimes bear some or all of the responsibility due to negligence. This is significant in California, where multiple parties could be held responsible under the comparative negligence principle. Refer to our car accident guide for more information.

Here are some common scenarios where the rear driver may be at fault:

  • Following too close (tailgating)
  • Speeding or driving too fast for road conditions
  • Distracted driving or failing to pay attention to signals
  • Speeding through changing traffic signals
  • Failing to maintain car brakes and tires.

On the other hand, the front-end driver may be responsible in the following examples:

  • Suddenly stopping in traffic for no apparent reason
  • Driving with a broken taillight or brake light
  • Failing to use the turn signal when making a turn
  • Making an unsafe lane change
  • Putting the vehicle in reverse while in traffic.

What are common injuries from rear-end car accidents?

Common injuries in a rear-end accident

Common rear-end accident injuries include:

  • Whiplash
  • Head or facial injuries from airbags
  • Concussions from hitting the headrest
  • Ribcage injuries
  • Leg, knee, or ankle fractures
  • Ligament injuries (e.g. torn ACL or PCL)
  • Back or spinal cord injuries
  • Soft tissue damage.

While many rear-end crash injuries are immediately visible, some may present vague symptoms or don’t even manifest until later after the accident. For example, a whiplash injury, which results from the violent back-and-forth motion of the neck, sometimes shows signs only after a day or two. Its symptoms, which include neck stiffness, shoulder pain, ringing in the ears, and dizziness, can also be mistaken for a different condition.

This is why it’s crucial to get medical attention if you experience any sign of collision injuries, even if they look minor. Also get the help of an experienced personal injury lawyer to help you prove your injuries when making a claim.

How much is a rear-end collision settlement worth?

The settlement you may receive for your rear-end crash depends on the specific facts of the case. Insurance companies and juries take into account factors like the severity of your injuries, future medical needs, the circumstances leading up to the accident, and any fault that you or other parties may have contributed to the accident.

In general, you may claim compensation for the economic and non-economic damages you’ve sustained. Economic damages are those that have a clear monetary value such as:

  • Medical bills
  • Rehabilitation expenses
  • Lost income
  • Lost potential to earn.

Non-economic damages are less tangible but may be assigned a value. Examples are:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Mental/emotional distress
  • Diminished quality of life
  • Disfigurement.

It’s important to know what you are entitled to. An insurance company is likely going to offer you an early settlement, but often, this is a low-ball offer. Consult an experienced personal injury attorney to learn the true value of your case.

What is the average payout for whiplash in California?

Some estimates online say that more minor whiplash case payouts start at around $10,000, but there is no true “average” settlement amount in these cases and the amount can be much higher (or lower). This is because each case is a unique combination of factors. For example, you may have had a moderate whiplash but one that significantly interfered with your work. Or your whiplash injury may have been more serious, but a jury found that you were partly at fault in the accident.

How do I get the most out of my rear-end accident settlement?

Rear-end accident settlement

To maximize your injury claim after a rear-end collision, you’ll need to work with a competent personal injury attorney. At the Zucker Law Firm, we scrutinize each case we handle, leaving no stone unturned to get the most favorable settlement for our client.

One of the areas we look into are your non-economic losses such as pain and suffering. These losses do not have an actual dollar value, and they are not clearly quantifiable. We meticulously prepare evidence to show the distress that you experienced and its impact in various areas of your life.

We also work with doctors, mental health professionals, specialists, economists, and life planners to establish the far-reaching effects of your injuries, monetary or otherwise.

Another advantage is our experience in the field of personal injury. For over 25+ years, we have been facing insurance companies and have become deeply familiar with their claims handling tactics. This levels the playing field for our clients when negotiating for a settlement. We’re also ready to take the case to trial if necessary.

Some clients ask, “What can I do to help my case?” Maximizing a car accident settlement starts right after the crash. These are things to do immediately after a rear-end collision:

  • Call 911 and seek immediate medical attention for any injury you sustained.
  • Report the accident to the police and request a copy of the police accident report.
  • While waiting for responders, take photos and videos of the scene, including your injuries and damage to your car.
  • Ask for the names and contact details of potential witnesses.
  • Contact a lawyer as soon as you can. It’s best to get an attorney’s guidance before you even speak with any insurance company.
  • Start collecting documentation relating to your accident such as medical bills, receipts, transportation stubs, and logs of your missed work.

Should I hire a personal injury lawyer for my rear-end accident?

Some motorists believe that rear-end collisions are cut-and-dried because the rear driver is sure to be at fault. Hence, they believe they don’t need an attorney to get compensation. However, as we discussed above, these car accidents are not always straightforward, especially in California where fault can be shared. Insurers will take every opportunity they can to minimize or deny claims. As a result, some claimants without a lawyer end up settling for much less than they need and deserve.

Although the law doesn’t require a lawyer when claiming injury compensation, you’ll find that it’s indispensable to have an attorney’s services. A competent injury lawyer can:

  • Assess your case and determine what you are entitled to
  • Investigate the crash and establish the other party’s fault
  • Gather evidence and build a case that proves your losses
  • Work with doctors and other professionals to support your claim
  • Argue effectively opposite insurers or defense lawyers
  • Navigate the legal system and help you understand the procedures
  • Advocate for the maximum compensation you can get.

Some people are reluctant to call a lawyer because they are worried about costs. The Zucker Law Firm offers a free consultation so you lose nothing just by talking to us about your accident. You’ll get sound legal advice from a high-quality California injury attorney.

Call a Temecula Car Accident Lawyer Today

The Zucker Law Firm is one of California’s most experienced personal injury firms. Our representation has helped numerous Californians obtain favorable settlements after their accidents, even in complicated cases worth millions. We are ready to listen to you about your rear-end collision. Consult with us for free. Call (951) 699-2100 today or send us a message through our online form.

The accident lawyers at The Zucker Law Firm in Temecula offer legal services exclusively in the areas of personal injury and wrongful death.

Guide to Rear-end Accident Settlements
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