Rear-end Car Accident
Rear-end car accidents can result in some of the most painful types of injuries a person can sustain. A driver whose negligence causes a rear-end collision has a legal obligation to compensate victims for their pain and suffering. Unfortunately, it can be difficult for victims to prove the extent of their pain and suffering in order to obtain a settlement offer which fairly compensates them for these losses. It can also be difficult to determine who was at fault for causing the accident. Contrary to popular belief, the driver in the rear position is not always automatically at fault for causing a rear-end collision. Learn more about how an attorney can help rear-end collision victims prove the extent of their pain and suffering, and establish liability for the drivers or companies which are legally responsible for causing the accident. Brandon area car accident victims trust attorney Stephen M. Lawler to protect their legal rights while resolving these important issues.Common Injuries in Rear-end Collisions
Head, neck, nerve and musculoskeletal injuries are especially common in rear-end collisions. These injuries are also notoriously painful. Worse still, mild forms of many muscle and nerve injuries are treated with very few medical interventions. An injury victim must often simply wait in discomfort for the symptoms to resolve themselves.
Whiplash is one such injury. It is caused by the rapid, jerky force to which the head and neck are subjected in a car accident. This forces the neck into a painful back-and-forth motion (like a whip) which can commonly cause injury to soft tissue in the area. Common symptoms include neck pain, stiffness, numbness or tingling in the arms, fatigue, dizziness, and headaches. The pain will usually increase with movement of the neck. This can also result in a loss of the neck’s range of motion. In the past, many doctors would recommend the use of a soft neck collar to immobilize the neck while it healed. In many cases, this can actually delay the healing process. Now, unless there is evidence of spine misalignment or other underlying damage, patients are often advised to begin working on their range of motion gently, soon after the injury is sustained. Excessive rest and immobilization of the neck are, in many cases, associated with chronic symptoms. The patient’s decreased range of motion can cause pain, stiffness, muscle atrophy, and decreased blood flow to the affected area. These early range-of-motion exercises can be painful, but if a doctor recommends them, it is important to complete them in order to prevent chronic symptoms. Always follow the advice of a qualified medical professional with respect to treating a whiplash injury.
In some severe circumstances, rear-end collisions can cause fractures to the vertebrae in the neck, or damage to the discs between the vertebrae. These severe injuries can require surgery or other drastic interventions. They are also more likely to require rehabilitative care and treatment. Many patients experience greater pain and suffering as a result of more severe neck injuries. Unfortunately, insurance companies do not always recognize the increased suffering of severe injuries when they make settlement offers. An auto accident attorney can help neck injury victims determine whether a settlement offer fairly compensates them for their pain and suffering.
Another severe injury common in auto accidents is the traumatic brain injury (TBI). This occurs when the brain is injured or damaged as the result of physical trauma (such as that sustained in a car accident). According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention , motor vehicle accidents were the third-leading cause of TBI deaths in the United States in 2013. Brain injuries do not just cause immediate pain and suffering to the victim. They can also cause lifelong symptoms such as cognitive deficits, difficulty concentrating, abnormal changes in behavior or personality, mood swings, and impaired speech. These symptoms can impair a victim’s ability to participate in hobbies, relationships, and other important aspects of daily life. They can also impair a victim’s future earning capacity. Many brain injuries require a victim to reduce his or her workload, hours, or job responsibilities. Some patients must change jobs or careers altogether. And in the most severe cases, a brain injury victim may be unable to work at all. All of these outcomes result in a loss of the victim’s future income. This is a compensable loss and a defendant who has been found liable for the car accident which caused the TBI can be obligated to pay for it.
Of course, the symptoms of a rear-end collision are not always physical. Many auto accident victims suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of the terrifying experience. Post-traumatic stress disorder can cause a victim to re-experience the accident through flashbacks, nightmares, and other distressing recollections. Victims may also experience emotional numbness, and avoid people, places and things which remind them of the accident. Difficulty sleeping and concentrating, jumpiness, and easy irritation or anger are also symptoms a car accident victim may experience. Trauma researchers have made significant gains in the diagnosis and treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder. With appropriate treatment, these symptoms can be effectively reduced, and this, too, is an expense which a negligent driver is obligated to pay for as a result of a car accident. Emotional distress can also be an important component of a pain and suffering award. Most importantly, car accident victims should not hesitate to seek treatment for their emotional injuries as well as their physical injuries.An Attorney Can Help Rear-end Car Accident Victims Establish the Fair Value of Their Pain and Suffering
In many cases, insurance claims adjusters make an offer for a pain and suffering award based upon a simple multiplication of the victim’s medical bills. Such hasty calculations do not adequately account for the exact nature of a patient’s suffering. More importantly, every patient experiences pain differently. Some have a low pain tolerance. Others are unable to take pain medications due to allergies, addictions, or other conditions. The nature of an injury also greatly affects the amount of a pain a patient must suffer. If a doctor recommends immobilization of an injury, the patient has little choice but to wait as the injury painfully heals itself and deal with the limitations at work and home that come with immobilization.
An attorney can help accident victims find and document these conditions in order to present the strongest possible claim for pain and suffering. In some cases, an effective presentation is enough to prompt the claims adjuster to make a fair settlement offer. In other cases, it is not, and the insurer will not offer a fair amount. In such situations, the patient must file a lawsuit in order to let a jury determine the value of his or her pain and suffering. An auto accident attorney can help victims decide whether a settlement offer is fair, or whether they are better served by submitting their claims to litigation.
Contrary to popular belief, the driver in the rear position is not always at fault for causing a rear-end collision. While the rear driver will usually bear at least some portion of fault for a rear-end collision, there are many circumstances in which another driver may be all or partially at fault. For example, what if the front position driver reverses suddenly? In this circumstance, it is possible that the rear position driver will not be found responsible for the accident at all. Or perhaps the front position driver has no functioning tail lights. In many states, having functioning tail lights is a legal requirement. Failure to do so can not only subject a driver to a traffic citation but also make them legally responsible for an accident which occurs as the result of the missing tail lights. Similarly, if the driver of a stalled vehicle fails to engage the emergency lights, this could cause another vehicle to strike the stalled vehicle from behind. Many states have laws which require drivers to engage their emergency lights when they pull onto the shoulder of a road. Failure to use emergency lights can also be found to be a full or partial cause of a rear-end collision—even when the stalled vehicle is in front.
An auto manufacturer can also be found at fault for causing a rear-end collision. If the vehicle was designed with defective reverse lights or emergency lights, the manufacturer could be found liable for an accident that occurs as a result of the defect. In other circumstances, the rear position driver may be unable to stop due to malfunctioning brakes. If the brakes were negligently designed or manufactured, this, too, is a situation in which the auto manufacturer could be found liable for causing the rear-end collision.
A company which employs a negligent driver can also be obligated to compensate accident victims for their injuries. This may involve a transportation company which employs a commercial truck driver, a delivery service which employs delivery drivers, or even the employer of an office worker who is running a work-related errand. In all these scenarios, a worker who negligently causes a rear-end collision exposes his or her employer to liability as a result of the negligent driving. This is because employers are generally liable for negligent acts which their employees commit within the scope of their employment. In some cases, this extends to independent contractors as well as employees. In such a case, the employer becomes another defendant to the victim’s injury claims. The presence of another defendant can complicate the determination of liability. It can also, however, provide another source of compensation to the injury victim, and improve his or her access to fair compensation for injuries sustained in an auto accident.An Attorney Can Help Victims Prove Liability
There are many ways in which an attorney can help a victim prove his or her case for the defendant’s liability. In some cases, it is a matter of finding all negligent parties and developing legal theories for each defendant’s liability. This task can be far more complicated than it appears at first. A hit-and-run driver may be difficult (if not impossible) to locate. It can also be difficult to identify all contributing factors to a collision. For example, poor roadway conditions can contribute to an accident. If a municipality or government agency has failed to adequately maintain the roadway in a safe condition, it can be found liable for part—or all—of an auto accident which occurs as a result.
In other cases, an injury victim must defend against claims that he or she was also negligent, and thus bears partial liability for causing the accident. Florida law does not prevent a negligent plaintiff from recovering compensation from a negligent defendant, but this does reduce the amount of compensation the plaintiff may recover. It is therefore important for victims to defend themselves when the defendant’s insurance company wrongly claims that they, too, bear liability for causing the rear-end collision.
An experienced auto accident attorney can help victims identify all potential defendants and sources of liability. He or she can also help a victim access all sources of insurance coverage and other compensation—even those which might not have been apparent at the start of the case. These acts can improve victims’ access to the compensation they deserve for their injuries, pain and suffering, lost wages, property damage, and other financial losses which were incurred as a direct result of a rear-end collision.The Right Representation for Your Rear-end Collision Injury Claim
Experienced personal injury attorney Stephen M. Lawler is highly skilled at holding negligent drivers accountable for their dangerous behavior. He helps injury victims protect their legal rights and access compensation for their injuries. Call (813) 413-8828 or write to us using our online contact form to schedule your free consultation with a personal injury attorney today. Injury victims in and around the Brandon area trust the professional team at The Lawler Firm to protect their legal interests at every stage of the claims process.