Rear-end collisions do not have a universal value. To understand what your claim is worth, you have to consider several factors that can impact the value of a claim. The first step is to talk to a car accident lawyer about what happened and how it affected you physically, emotionally, and financially. Then, with a legal professional on your side, you can hold the negligent driver in your case accountable for the damage they caused in your life and get the monetary help you need to rebuild it.
What Impacts the Value of a Rear-End Accident Claim?
The same factors that affect a rear-end accident claim can affect any auto accident claim. It starts with understanding the meaning behind compensatory damages and why you recover them. When you file a fault-based insurance claim or a civil lawsuit against the person who caused your accident, you also list all the losses you incurred due to their actions. These losses can be economic or non-economic, but together they are the total value of your claim.
Economic losses are the elements of the accident and resulting injuries that impact your financial health. For example, you can claim the costs associated with repairing your vehicle or replacing it if it is unsalvageable. You can also claim all the monetary losses associated with your injuries. These may include some variation of the following:
- The cost of ambulance and first responders
- The total cost of your hospital stay, including before and after admittance
- The cost of any follow care, including outpatient treatments and rehabilitation
- The cost of surgeries, prescription medications, and medical devices
- The wages you lost from missing work during your recovery
- A future lost wages due to ongoing medical care or loss of earning capacity
- The cost of any replacement services, such as in-home care, transportation to medical visits, and childcare
Proving these losses is often straightforward. You can provide medical bills, repair estimates, receipts from paid services, and pay stubs. If you hire legal representation, they will gather all this information before starting the negotiation process with the insurer.
Severe accidents also have a profound impact on your emotional state. You can seek compensation for all the ways the accident negatively affected you. For example, you might claim the pain and suffering caused by your injuries and the painful medical treatments needed during your recovery. Other examples include the emotional distress and mental anguish that may present as anxiety, depression, or post-traumatic syndrome commonly seen in auto accident victims. Calculating non-economic damages is critical to any personal injury claim because severe injuries can result in substantial emotional losses. Again, your attorney will ensure you include these losses in your claim and adequately support them with evidence, such as written statements from people you know and expert testimony from medical professionals.
California's Pure Comparative Negligence Rule
If you played a role in the accident's cause, do not assume you are ineligible to recover at least a small percentage of your total losses. California applies the pure comparative negligence rule to cases involving shared fault. The components of this rule are simple in theory:
- Both parties receive an assigned percentage of fault to reflect their role in the accident.
- The court determines the final financial value of all compensatory damages.
- The court removes the percentage reflecting your share of fault from the final award.
Suppose you are 50% at fault for the $40,000 in damages incurred by the accident and your injuries. You would still be entitled to $20,000 for your final reward. However, as the person filing the claim in California's fault-based system, you must prove that the defendant is liable for your damages.
Who Is Liable for Damages in a Rear-End Accident?
The person behind the other driver is nearly always liable for a rear-end collision. Part of the duty of care owed to other people on the road is the adherence to laws that require everyone to keep a safe distance from other vehicles. Failure to do so is typically the cause of a rear-end crash. However, some different ways the driver behind the other car could be at fault include the following:
- Driving while distracted on the phone
- Driving at excessive speed
- Driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs
- Driving recklessly, such as exhibiting road rage
The most common form of road rage and the most common cause of rear-end collision accidents is tailgating. Tailgating occurs when one driver intentionally follows another car too closely. Should they need to stop abruptly, tailgating does not allow the time or room required to do so safely. While it is common for the tailing driver to be liable, that is not always the case. The driver in the front can be at fault for brake checking, putting the car in reverse without warning, backing out of a parking space and into oncoming traffic, and failing to move a vehicle with mechanical failure out of oncoming traffic. If you believe the other driver in your accident is at fault, consider some steps you can take to protect your right to compensation.
What Can You Do To Protect Your Right to Compensation?
In the immediate aftermath of the crash, any photographs or videos you took can act as solid evidence supporting your claim for vehicle damage. If you report the accident to the police, the police report is a dependable source to prove negligence. Other ways you can protect your claim include:
- Seeking medical attention within 72 hours after the accident so you have a medical record of your injuries
- Avoiding social media because the insurance adjuster will likely scan your platforms to look for evidence they can use to devalue your claim
- Filing a claim with the insurance company
- Talking to a car accident lawyer about the details of your case so you can better understand the options available to you
When you build a solid case for negligence and gather sufficient evidence to prove your losses, you will likely have little trouble arguing for a fast and fair settlement, especially if you have the help of an experienced car accident lawyer.
When Do You Need a Car Accident Lawyer?
California is an at-fault state. This means you have the right to pursue a claim against the driver responsible for your accident and resulting injuries. Because rear-end collisions are commonly the fault of the driver who crashed into the other vehicle's rear bumper, victims often assume they do not need to speak with a personal injury lawyer. However, when you represent yourself in a car accident claim, you risk undervaluing your losses and receiving a lesser settlement. With the help of an experienced car accident attorney, you have a better chance of receiving adequate compensation.
At Johnson Attorneys Group, we know where to look for damages and how to prove the other driver's negligence. Our commitment is to accident victims and helping them restore their lives. If you suffered an injury or lost a family member in a rear-end accident, allow us to answer any questions you have about your pursuit of justice and compensation. Our services are risk-free because we only get paid when you get paid, and our initial consultation is free. Contact Johnson Attorneys Group at (800) 208-3538 to speak with a car accident lawyer. We can take your call 24 hours a day, seven days a week.