Any type of car accident is an unfortunate situation that can often lead to devastating injuries. Out of all car accident scenarios, rear-end collisions sometimes cause the most serious damage to your body.
Perhaps you are going through this now after recently experiencing a rear-end collision on a busy road here in Florida. Things like this can happen so fast, you are potentially in a state of shock at the devastation it left behind.
Not only is your car possibly totaled, but you also suffered serious injuries that put you in the hospital. Let’s look at what you need to do next to put your life back together, including how a lawyer can help you after a rear-end collision.
How Did Your Rear-End Collision Happen?
According to statistics, rear-end collisions are the third most common type of car accident next to head-on and angle crashes. Some of those rear-ends are fatal due to the extreme impact.
Others, like you, manage to survive and incur injuries that change your life forever. The big question is, how did it happen?
A rear-end collision can happen in any number of ways. Often, it is not your fault as the victim. All too commonly, it is someone who ran into you due to a particular driving distraction.
Sometimes the defendant’s car is to blame due to a maintenance or manufacturing problem. Negligence, in this case, could go to more than one person, using Florida’s pure comparative fault law.
In other situations, smartphones, car radios, or passengers talking too much distract drivers.
It is a warning tale about the prevalence of distracted driving. Just one critical driving error like this from the negligent person could alter your life in a manner of seconds.
Not all rear-end collisions come from ordinary passenger cars either.
Other Vehicles Causing Rear-End Collisions
A regular car can cause enough damage to your vehicle if it rear-ends you. Your injuries can turn ten times worse after being hit from behind by a truck.
Far too many rear-end collisions from trucks occur on Florida roadways and highways. Some of those happen during busy commuter times when traffic is at its heaviest.
The reasons for the collisions are nearly identical to those who drive cars. Except, there is one difference in that truck drivers are far too commonly exhausted while at the wheel. Due to the pressure of delivering goods and driving into the morning hours, fatigued truck drivers are still a big problem.
After being hit from behind by a truck, your injuries are likely much worse than just mere whiplash. You may have major spinal injuries or traumatic brain injuries.
Of course, it is not just trucks that pose a threat in rear-end collisions. Other large vehicles like farm equipment, buses, or SUVs could plow into your car from behind and give you sustained injuries with ongoing life repercussions.
Spinal Injuries From Rear-End Collisions
One of the most common injuries in rear-end collisions is injuries to the spine. Severity levels with this injury are either complete or incomplete, with both altering how you live your life.
A complete spinal injury paralyzes you entirely from below the waist. Quadriplegia is also possible under this category where even your upper body is paralyzed. It means the likelihood of living in a wheelchair while possibly being unable to function normally without assistance. You may have the inability to communicate.
Incomplete spinal injuries might paralyze some of your motor functions, albeit not entirely. Even if it prevents you from being in a wheelchair, it can still cause enough issues where your physical mobility is no longer the same.
In these situations, you do not easily go back to the way things were before. Any job you had is possibly no longer workable, leading to no income for years to come.
Traumatic Brain Injuries From Rear-End Collisions
Rear-end collisions also cause brain injuries, usually from flying you forward from the crash impact. Your head possibly hit the dashboard or the windshield at high impact, leading to a major concussion.
While seeking medical treatment, you may have found out that you had a traumatic brain injury. Despite most brain trauma healing over time, it could also lead to permanent brain damage.
Any sort of injury to the brain is as serious as a spinal injury. Do not let anyone minimize the seriousness of a brain injury in a rear-end collision. Unfortunately, insurance companies of the defendant sometimes attempt to make it look like your injuries are exaggerated.
Broken Bones or Nerve Damage
Other injuries are possible in rear-end crashes like broken bones and nerve damage, leading to just as much physical difficulty. Not all bones easily repair themselves if severely broken in a car accident.
Nerves are also challenging to repair, leading to possible impairments that affect your ability to function normally. Many of these injuries could end up even more severe if you rode in the back seat of a car driven by someone else. Being closer to the car impact location means taking a more severe physical toll on your body.
Let’s also not forget about the mental aspects of these injuries. The pain and suffering you will go through could lead to depression and other mental issues for years to come. Personal injury lawyers call this intangible evidence.
Your First Step After a Rear-End Collision
After any of the above injury scenarios, you are likely stuck in a hospital at the moment, leading to questions about your future. What should you do to get yourself recovered and gain any compensation to pay your medical bills?
Your first step is to just take time for yourself. Take all the time you need to get yourself well, and always seek medical attention immediately after experiencing your rear-end collision.
Once you are well enough, it is time to think about seeking legal help to win you a settlement. How you go about this could require the help of someone close to you if you are unable to call due to your injuries.
Should you not have the ability to call a lawyer, allow someone close to you to call on your behalf. Time is of the essence in your case due to some very good reasons.
As soon as you have a personal injury lawyer on your side, they can help you through the next legal steps.
It is always a good idea if you gather as much evidence as you can on your own since evidence can easily disappear quickly. Understandably, your injuries may prevent you from gathering anything after the rear-end collision occurs.
To get started, your car accident lawyer can go to work visiting the scene where your car accident took place. Whether in an intersection, along a highway, or in a parking lot, they can take action in acquiring any evidence available.
This usually begins by interviewing witnesses who happened to see the accident occur. Thanks to smartphones being ubiquitous in our culture, the chances are occasionally good that witnesses captured video of the rear-end collision as it happened.
Physical traces of the accident are also possibly available. Pieces of your car are hopefully still there before cleanup occurs. Acquiring this is sometimes more difficult since the city attempts to clean up all accident residue within hours.
Traffic camera footage also helps. Most intersections here in Florida have traffic cameras that have easy-to-acquire video footage. Any private security camera footage usually requires a subpoena to acquire.
Finally, your medical bills are a big part of the evidence gathered.
What Your Medical Bills Say About Your Rear-End Collision Injuries
Your car accident lawyer takes the initiative on gathering all your medical bills while you are still in recovery mode. It is not likely the last of your medical bills. Nevertheless, placing the existing ones in safekeeping is going to help immensely in proving your case to an insurance company.
Going to trial later also requires evidence like this. Your bills can prove how much treatment you have needed to try to restore your physical health after the rear-end collision happened.
Medical records also show the major impact of what rear-end collisions do to the body. All your X-rays and scans could show severely broken bones and other internal injuries. Clear evidence of this becomes undeniable when questioned about the severity of your injuries in your claim.
Beyond your medical bills, your lawyer also looks to your likely future and your probable financial condition. Your medical bills will prove your financial difficulties.
Parts of this are the intangible side of evidence as well. Pain and suffering due to your injuries is one thing. Mental pain from not being able to work and keep your head above water is another.
Evidence gathering and presentation is a big first step in proving your rear-end collision case. Next is the more complicated work of negotiating with the defendant’s insurance company.
There is a small chance the defendant had no car insurance. In this case, it might require your lawyer working with your own insurance company if you had coverage for non-insured drivers.
Otherwise, dealing with the insurance company of the defendant is a challenging path only your lawyer can handle. Never attempt to communicate with the insurance company on your own, even though they are sure to contact you.
One of the first things they will attempt to do is offer you a low settlement amount to end the case early. They do this to avoid a trial or going through lengthy negotiations with your lawyer. Insurance companies also frequently ask you questions about how you feel, something to avoid. Anything you say now could easily get twisted later.
Only your lawyer should have any contact with the insurance company adjuster. Thanks to their legal experience, they know the tricks insurance companies pull to get you to settle early.
Along the negotiation path, your legal team presents evidence of how your rear-end collision occurred. As much as insurance adjusters try to minimize your injuries, compelling facts make all the difference. Insurance companies eventually do settle when this happens, but how much should you expect?
No one should deny you compensation as you prove your rear-end collision was as devastating physically and mentally as any other car accident. How much you might receive in a settlement is variable based on the evidence you present.
Never expect a certain amount just because your car accident lawyer has a strong track record of large settlements. While compelling evidence matters in how much you receive, the final amount is sometimes less or more than what is typical.
During the negotiation process, your lawyer keeps in contact with you to present each offer. Only you decide which final offer you want to take. The insurance company may continue to send overly low offers, making you decide to take the case to trial.
Your lawyer always adheres to your wishes. Just keep in mind trials do take longer. Sometimes it is a better bet because you are presenting your case to a jury rather than to a judge.
Also, keep in mind the final settlement is not always the end of the story.
Punitive Damages for Your Rear-End Collision
Suing for punitive damages against the defendant is made to send a message that they were especially egregious in their actions. For instance, if the driver was drunk or willfully crashed into the back of your car, punitive damages would be an additional suit directly against the negligent person.
Depending on the defendant’s financial situation, you could see more compensation from them due to the injuries you will battle for the rest of your life. Once in a while, the defendant is also a major company found negligent in maintaining a vehicle that crashed into you.
Get Legal Help Now!
Contact a personal injury attorney immediately if you have just been injured in a rear-end collision. Despite Florida’s statute of limitations on personal injuries being four years, you do not want to wait too long. Evidence can all too easily disappear without quick action.
A personal injury attorney can help you through the legal process with empathy and respect for the pain you are going through.