If you were the victim of a rear-end collision, chances are the driver behind you was at fault. They should have taken precautions to prevent an accident from occurring. You believe you have a right to hold them accountable for their careless actions; however, auto insurance companies will almost always try to find a way to deny your claim or provide a low settlement offer. At Abel Law Firm, we’re familiar with the tactics insurance companies use, and we’ll work hard to get you the maximum compensation you deserve.
Rear-end vehicle accidents happen when one driver collides with the back of another driver’s car. It’s typically the result of driver error or inattention. It has the potential to cause severe injuries and even death. If a driver caused your injuries in a rear-end accident, you’re entitled to pursue monetary compensation from an insurance claim or lawsuit.
To find out more about your legal options and how we can help, call (405) 239-7046 to speak with one of our Oklahoma City rear-end collision attorneys.
The Main Causes of Rear-End Collisions
Tailgating is dangerous behavior and puts everyone at risk. When someone follows your vehicle too closely, they won’t be able to avoid crashing into the back of your vehicle if you stop or slow down suddenly. The best way to determine a safe following distance from the car ahead is to use the three-second rule.
When driving behind someone, pick out a stationary object, such as a telephone pole, to use as a reference point. When the driver in front of you passes that object, start counting until you pass it. If it takes less than three seconds, you’re too close. You should always maintain a distance of three seconds or more. When there’s adverse weather or poor road conditions, you’ll need a greater following distance.
Tailgating isn’t the only reason rear-end car accidents occur. Some other common causes include:
- Slow-moving traffic or congestion
- Road rage
- Distracted driving
- Drowsy or fatigued driving
- Impaired by drugs or alcohol
Common Injuries Victims of Rear-End Collisions Suffer
Many rear-end car accidents result from the back driver traveling at a high rate of speed. That leads to a violent impact and can cause life-threatening injuries. Examples of common injuries include:
- Crush injuries
- Traumatic brain injury
- Loss of limb or amputation injury
- Ejection injury if the victim isn’t wearing a seatbelt
- Broken bones
- Spinal cord injury or paralysis
Any type of injury could result in permanent damage. In many instances, injuries to the spinal cord require long-term physical therapy and pain management. Sometimes, a traumatic brain injury causes mental deficits. If the injured victim ends up with a mental or physical disability, they’ll need ongoing medical care, potentially for the rest of their life. That can become expensive and put a financial strain on anyone. The at-fault driver should be the one to pay for all expenses related to the injury.
Follow These Steps After a Rear-End Collision
It’s important to follow the steps below, following your accident, to protect your rights to compensation:
Step 1. Oklahoma law requires that you report a car accident to the police if there’s an injury or fatality, or serious property damage. Wait for law enforcement to arrive and perform their investigation. When they’re done, they will write a collision report, and you can request a copy here.
Step 2. Speak to bystanders who saw how the accident occurred. Write down their names and numbers so they can provide a witness statement, if necessary, for your insurance claim or lawsuit.
Step 3. Take photos of the crash scene, car damage, road debris, visible injuries, and other relevant evidence from the accident.
Step 4. Obtain the at-fault driver’s name, contact information, auto insurance carrier name, and insurance policy number.
Step 5. Go to the hospital. Immediately after leaving the accident scene, get a medical evaluation of your injuries. The emergency room physician will provide a diagnosis and refer you for additional treatment, if necessary. Be sure to follow their orders and continue seeing your medical providers until they release you from care.
Step 6. Bring your vehicle to an auto body shop for a repair estimate. They’ll determine the extent of the damage and provide an approximate cost for fixing it.
Step 7. Keep a copy of all documentation associated with the rear-end collision. That includes medical records, receipts for out of pocket expenses, letters from the insurance company, etc.
Step 8. Hire an Oklahoma City rear-end collision attorney from Abel Law Firm to assist you with the legal aspects of your case.
Damages You Can Seek in an Insurance Claim
Many rear-end collision victims will file an insurance claim to try to recover a settlement. Oklahoma follows a fault system regarding financial responsibility after a car crash. That means the person who caused it is automatically liable for resulting injuries and losses. You can pursue compensation using any of the methods below.
File a Liability Claim
All motorists are legally required to carry liability car insurance with minimum limits of $25,000 per person for bodily injury, up to $50,000 per accident, and $25,000 for property damage. Those limits cover the injured party’s damages, which are losses associated with an accident. If someone else was liable for the crash, you could file a claim with their insurance company.
Damages fall under two major categories. Economic damages are expenses, while non-economic damages are intangible losses. They include the following:
- Medical bills
- Lost wages
- Lost future earnings
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional trauma
- Out of pocket costs
- Vehicle repair or replacement expense
File a UM Claim
Sometimes, you’ll come across drivers that don’t hold liability auto insurance. When that happens, you can file a claim with your insurance company. UM (uninsured/underinsured motorist) covers accident victims if the at-fault motorist doesn’t have insurance or their limits aren’t high enough to compensate you for all of your damages.
When you file a UM claim, you can seek the following damages up to the limit you chose on your policy:
- Medical bills
- Lost wages and future earnings
- Pain and suffering
- Out of pocket costs
Personal Injury Lawsuit
Instead of pursuing compensation from an insurance settlement, you could sue the at-fault driver. You must follow a strict deadline if you want to pursue a legal case after your rear-end collision. It’s known as a statute of limitations, and in Oklahoma, it’s two years. That means you only have two years from the accident date to sue the liable party for their actions.
In addition to economic and non-economic damages, you can also seek punitive damages. It doesn’t compensate you for your losses, but punishes the at-fault driver for their negligent behavior and deters others from similar acts. It’s a rare financial award you’ll only receive if you can prove that the other driver’s actions were particularly egregious.
Contact Abel Law Firm
Our Oklahoma City car accident attorneys are ready to fight for the justice and compensation you deserve. When you hire us, we’ll create a plan that reaches your goals. We know you want to put this traumatic experience behind you as soon as possible. Our legal team at Abel Law Firm will work efficiently to resolve your case so you can move forward with your life.
Call us at (405) 239-7046 if you sustained injuries in a rear-end car accident and want to find out your legal options.