Rear-end collisions are far too frequent in California, and the injuries suffered in these crashes cost millions of dollars each year in medical and rehabilitation expenses. If you are injured by a negligent driver in a rear-end crash, speak at once with a Fresno personal injury attorney.
Unfortunately, rear-end accidents are not at all unusual or rare. More than a million rear-end crashes happen every year in the United States, resulting in over 1,500 fatalities and approximately 500,000 reported injuries.
Even at low speeds, rear-end crashes may cause severe injuries. At only five miles per hour, for example, about one out of ten drivers and passengers will suffer whiplash. Front seat passengers are injured more often because drivers can partially brace themselves with the steering wheel.
While not every injury that happens in a rear-end accident is a severe or catastrophic injury, the statistics and the risks are genuine. Even in low-speed, rear-end collisions with no serious vehicle damage, vehicle accident victims may sustain serious injuries.
What Are Your Rights as a Victim of Negligence?
How is fault determined in a rear-end collision? If you are injured by a negligent driver, what are your rights? How can you be compensated for medical bills and lost wages? If you will keep reading, you’ll learn the answers – and more about your rights as an injured victim of negligence.
In California, the injured victims of negligent drivers are entitled to full compensation for their medical expenses, lost earnings, and more. However, you are not simply handed a compensation check. You will have to prove that you were injured because the other driver was negligent.
To prevail with a personal injury claim based on a rear-end collision, the injury victim (called the “plaintiff”) must prove – with a personal injury lawyer’s help – that he or she was injured because the allegedly at-fault driver (called the “defendant”) was negligent.
How is Liability Determined in Rear-End Accidents?
If a driver crashes or rolls into another vehicle from behind, that driver will almost always be considered at-fault. A fundamental principle of driving is that a vehicle must be able to stop safely.
If a driver cannot stop a vehicle safely, that driver will probably be deemed negligent. Even so, in some accidents, the other motorist – the driver of the vehicle in front – may have at least a portion of the responsibility.
Sometimes in rear-end collisions, the driver in front may be partially liable if his or her taillights or brake lights were not working, if the driver turned but failed to use a turn signal, or if the driver did not use blinkers or hazard lights when making an emergency stop.
Always leave enough space between your vehicle and the one in front of you so that if a driver stops for no apparent reason, you can brake safely. However, in some traffic conditions, there may be no way to avoid a collision if the driver in front of you abruptly hits the brakes.
How Will a Personal Injury Attorney Help?
If you were driving the vehicle in the rear, it may be tough to prove that the driver in front had any responsibility for the accident. In this circumstance, you must have the guidance and sound advice that a good California personal injury lawyer can offer.
A California injury attorney may use a number of tools to prove fault in a rear-end collision including traffic light sequencing, accident reconstruction, eyewitness statements, and vehicle repair reports.
Your personal injury lawyer will review the police accident report, the records of your medical treatment, and any photos of the accident scene and the vehicular damage to determine exactly how the accident happened and which driver should be held accountable.
After determining which driver is liable for a rear-end accident, if California law entitles you to be compensated for your medical bills, lost wages, and related losses, your accident attorney will negotiate – or if the case goes to court, ask the jurors – for the amount you deserve and need.
How Should You Deal With the Auto Insurance Company?
If you are injured when a careless driver collides with your vehicle from behind, admit nothing, confess nothing, and sign nothing. Do not take a quick settlement offer, and do not give any statement to the other driver’s insurance company before consulting your personal injury lawyer.
Particularly in rear-end crashes at low speeds, an auto insurance company may offer you a quick settlement for an amount that is considerably less than the actual amount that you are entitled to.
Do not take a settlement offer for an amount that is below what your injury claim is genuinely worth. A good personal injury lawyer can almost certainly negotiate a more generous settlement on your behalf.
How Are Personal Injury Cases Resolved?
That is how most personal injury claims are resolved in California – in private, out-of-court negotiations. However, if no acceptable settlement amount is offered in negotiations, your attorney will probably recommend taking the case to trial.
At a personal injury trial, your attorney will offer evidence and testimony that supports your injury claim. Your attorney will explain what happened and will ask the jurors to order the payment of the compensation you need.
When Should You Take Legal Action?
Do not wait to speak with a lawyer. California’s statute of limitations gives the injured victims of negligence two years from the date of the injury to initiate legal action, but you should not wait two years or even two weeks. See an attorney as soon as you have been treated for your injury.
If you wait, evidence could deteriorate or disappear. The memories of eyewitnesses will fade. You can’t file an injury claim at the last possible minute and expect to succeed. Put your case in a good attorney’s hands as quickly as you can.
With Bills Piling Up, Can You Afford an Attorney?
You may wonder how you can afford an attorney if you’re injured, unable to work, and the bills are piling up. California’s personal injury lawyers work on a contingent fee basis. That means you pay no attorney’s fee until and unless your attorney recovers compensation on your behalf.
Your first consultation with a Fresno personal injury attorney comes with no cost or obligation. If you proceed with a personal injury claim, your attorney will fight aggressively on your behalf, and the law in California will be on your side.