Rear-end collisions can leave you with thousands of dollars in medical bills, lost wages, and vehicle repairs. If you aren’t able to recover damages through an insurance claim, you may need to sue the other driver for compensation to cover your costs associated with the accident.
After a rear-end car accident, though, how do you determine how much it’s worth? This is where a car accident attorney can help you. They can review your case and help you determine exactly what you are entitled to and what you can and should include in your claim.
Types of Damages You Can Claim After a Rear-End Collision
In addition to including the repairs to your vehicle and any medical bills you have as a result of your rear-end collision, there are several other types of damages you can include for consideration in your claim. Your car accident attorney can review your claim to ensure you’ve accounted for everything to which you are entitled. Some of these damages can include:
- Wages you lost when you couldn’t work after your accident
- Reduced earning potential, if you can’t work in the same capacity now as you could before the accident
- Any modifications you may have had to make to your home to accommodate an accident-related disability
- Non-economic damages, like pain and suffering and PTSD
If you have lost a loved one in a rear-end collision, a team of experienced wrongful death attorneys can help you file a claim against the party or parties responsible. In a wrongful death lawsuit, you can pursue costs related to:
- The burial and funeral for your loved one
- Loss of consortium
- Punitive damages
- Lost source of income
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Never Accept the First Settlement Offer You Get
The legal process works the same way after any type of auto accident. In the days following the accident, the at-fault driver’s insurance company will likely reach out to you. They will probably offer you a settlement that may seem enticing, but don’t let it fool you.
The initial settlement offer is always way below what will actually cover your damages. If you accept the initial offer, you could be signing away your legal rights and lose any chance of seeking more money for your damages.
The insurance company may also look for additional ways to use information against you. You will want to make sure your rights are as protected as possible—and the best way to do that is by contacting an experienced rear-end collision accident lawyer. A lawyer can research your case and let you know what an actual fair settlement offer will look like.
When to Sue for a Rear-End Collision Accident
Your first course of action after a rear-end accident should be filing a personal injury claim for compensation. In most rear-end accidents, the driver at the back of the crash is at fault. You will file your claim with that individual’s insurance company.
If the insurance company refuses to negotiate for a fair settlement, your next step may be filing a lawsuit after your rear-end collision for the compensation you deserve. You have every right to do this, and your car accident lawyer can help with each step of the process.
Preparing for the Rear-End Collision Lawsuit
If you plan to sue for the rear-end accident, you and your lawyer will need to take action immediately in the following ways.
Gather Evidence to Prove Fault
You will need to be able to demonstrate that the other driver was negligent, their actions caused your accident, and your damages were a direct result of their behavior. The main piece of evidence will be the police report from the accident.
You will need to show exactly how the accident has impacted your life. Keep clear and detailed records of any and all expenses you face from the crash, including:
- Medical bills from doctor visits, hospital stays, prescription medications, and surgeries
- Future medical costs that you are expected to face
- Vehicle repair or replacement costs
- Lost wages from time away from work
- Lost earnings that you would have otherwise received if the accident hadn’t happened, such as work bonuses
- Pain and suffering damages that show how the accident has affected your ability to enjoy life as you did before
Some of these damages can be proven through bills, receipts, and pay stubs. Others will be harder to demonstrate, but a car accident lawyer can help. They will know what it takes to show the full extent of your losses, including emotional damages that don’t have a clear price.
File a Complaint
Once you have compiled the evidence you need for your case, file a formal complaint to explain what happened, how you were physically hurt, and what you are requesting as compensation.
Once the complaint is filed, the legal process of suing for your collision begins. It doesn’t mean that your case will absolutely go all the way to court, but it shows the at-fault party that you are serious about seeking a reward for the losses they caused.
Your Statute of Limitations for a Rear-End Collision
Each state has different statutes of limitations for filing a claim after a car accident. In Georgia, for example, you have two years from the date of the accident to seek compensation for your damages, per Georgia Code (OCGA) §9-3-33.
You will need to take action as soon as possible to avoid missing your chance at financial recovery. Filing a claim for a rear-end collision past this deadline could mean your claim being dismissed by the civil courts.
Traffic Laws That Could Help You Win Your Case
Many states and cities have traffic laws that could give you an advantage in your case. For example, Georgia follows the two-second rule when it comes to trailing distances, per OCGA §40-6-49.
In rear-end collisions, this rule dictates that the driver to the rear should keep two seconds worth of distance from the car in front of them. The space between the two vehicles should take at least two seconds to traverse.
This scientifically-proven safety strategy gives the driver at the back enough time to brake if the one in front goes on a sudden stop. Your car accident lawyer can use this piece of information with other evidence gathered to prove negligence.
You Can Still Recover Compensation if You’re Partially At-Fault
You need to be aware of fault laws in your state. Georgia, for example, follows a modified comparative negligence rule in rear-end collisions and other car accidents. You can collect compensation from any party who is more at-fault than you were. Your damages, however, will be reduced by a percentage that corresponds to your share of liability.
Hypothetically, if you were 20% responsible for the rear-end accident, then your total compensatory award you’d be eligible to receive would decrease by 20%. Because there is not a precise method to accurately determine percentage of fault, the ultimate decision as to liability will fall on an insurance claim adjuster or a judge and jury.
Talk to a Rear-End Collision Accident Attorney Today
If you need help seeking compensation for your damages after a rear-end collision, talk to a reputable car accident attorney today. An experienced personal injury lawyer can help victims of rear-end collisions win the money they need to cover their mounting bills and related expenses.
Insurance companies will try to deny your claim or get you to settle for a lesser amount that doesn’t reflect your injuries, medical costs, property damage, or pain and suffering. You can sue for your rear-end collision to collect more appropriate compensation.