A rear-end collision happens when a motorist strikes another car from behind in the same lane. While these types of crashes could look minor, they often result in significant damage and severe injuries. If you have been hurt as a result of another person's negligence, you have a right to compensation for the losses incurred. At Las Vegas Personal Injury Attorney Law Firm, we understand how the accident can negatively affect your life. Therefore, we are dedicated to assisting you to receive the compensation you deserve to live a happy life.
It is worth noting that the rear motorist isn't always held accountable in a rear-end car accident. Sometimes, the front motorist's negligence causes or contributes to the crash.
When is the Lead Motorist Responsible?
A front motorist in a rear-end automobile collision can be responsible or partially responsible if they:
- Change lanes without sufficient warning
- Cut off the rear motorist without adequate space and signaling
- Accidentally stepping on the brakes rather than the gas
- Knowingly operating their vehicle with faulty brakes
- Have malfunctioning tail lights
- Fail to turn on the hazard light in case the motor vehicle stalls
- Stop without warning or a good reason
- Accidentally have their vehicle in reverse
- Fail to move their stalling car out of the road timely
The Rear Motorist Can also be Held Accountable
Back drivers, without a doubt, cause most rear-end fender benders. Common reasons for these car accidents are:
- Distracted driving like texting while operating the vehicle
- Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- Knowingly driving a car with mechanical issues like faulty brakes
- Road rage
Tailgating is the most popular out of the above causes. According to NRS484B.127, a rear motorist should keep a reasonable distance between them and the car in front. Otherwise, the lead driver will have inadequate space and time to stop an accident should the vehicle in front stop immediately.
Rear-ended While Stopped? Who is Responsible?
If you got rear-ended when you stopped at an intersection or traffic light, the driver behind you should be held liable.
Determining Liability in a Multiple Vehicle Rear-end Collision
Usually, when three or more cars are involved in an accident, the last vehicle in the chain is held accountable for the accident. Cars in the middle have no control over the accident.
Mechanical or Road Defects
Sometimes, your accident could be due to hazardous road conditions like potholes or mechanical errors like faulty brakes. In this scenario, the third party (the city or the car manufacturer) should be held responsible.
What Happens if You are Partially Accountable for the Accident
One motorist causes most car accidents in Las Vegas. However, there are situations where both the front and rear motorists are negligent.
Nevada uses a comparative negligence rule. You can still take legal action and be awarded compensation. Nevertheless, the other driver should be more than fifty percent responsible. In other words, you will not receive compensation if you are more than fifty percent to blame.
For instance, Joseph is operating his motor vehicle when he notices that he is about to miss his turn. He quickly changes lanes and forgets to use a turn signal. As a result, this makes Mary, who is speeding, hit Joseph's car. Mary takes legal action against Joseph.
At the trial, the jury concludes that Joseph was seventy percent accountable while Mary was thirty percent at-fault for speeding. Because Joseph was more than fifty percent responsible, Mary can receive compensation from Joseph.
However, the amount of compensation will be reduced by Mary's accountability percentage.
Proving Negligence in a Personal Injury Case
If you have sustained injuries due to another person's negligence, you could have legal rights to seek compensation. Nevertheless, you should present evidence that the other person was negligent and caused your injuries. Here are elements that should be present for your claim to be feasible:
- Duty - Duty refers to the responsibility to guarantee the safety of others. For instance, every driver has a responsibility to adhere to traffic rules and prevent accidents from happening.
- Breach of duty - A breach of duty happens when a defendant does not exercise reasonable care or acts in a way that a reasonable individual wouldn't under similar circumstances.
- Causation - Causation is decided by whether the liable driver's conduct or inaction caused your injuries. You should prove that the at-fault driver's negligence is the primary reason for your injuries. And you wouldn't have sustained injuries if the liable party acted differently.
- Damages - You are also required to prove the defendant's negligence caused you to suffer damages. Damages in a rear-end accident can include lost income, medical expenses, property damage, and emotional distress.
Evidence Used to Prove Liability
After the duty of care is proven, your responsibility (through your lawyer) is to prove how the responsible party broke the standard of care. What were the liable individual’s actions or lack thereof under the circumstances?
You can use the following as evidence:
- Police report
- Video surveillance (it could be from a camera mounted on a traffic light)
- Accident reconstruction expert testimony
- Medical record
- Testimonies from medical practitioners who are qualified in telling what caused a given injury
- Eyewitness testimony
If your case goes to trial, you should prove the negligence by a preponderance of the evidence. In other words, it is more likely than not that the defendant causes the accident.
What to Do Following a Rear-End Accident
What you do after a rear-end collision can safeguard your interests should the other driver leave the accident scene, fail to report the car accident, is uncooperative, or gives a contradicting side of the story.
Be Calm and Ensure Safety of All
You need to remain calm. Check whether all those involved in the car crash are safe and assist those requiring emergency medical attention. However, do not move an injured individual unless it is essential for their safety.
Also, if possible, move your vehicle out of traffic. It could result in another car accident or traffic jam.
Seek Medical Care
If you are taken to a medical care facility, tell the doctor of all injured areas. Often, patients pay attention to areas that are severely injured. Sometimes, areas which are not painful following an accident can turn out to be catastrophic injuries.
You need to understand that an emergency room is for treating emergencies. If the injury doesn't need immediate surgery or isn't life-threatening, the odds are you will be discharged. Being discharged doesn't imply that you're okay.
Additionally, make sure you follow your physician's advice.
Failing to go to a health care facility immediately will both hurt your recovery and affect your personal injury claim.
Dealing with Property Damage
Dealing with an insurance company about a car damage claim is frustrating. If the insurance provider has accepted accountability and your motor vehicle can be repaired, it's advisable to choose a renowned repair shop and have the shop deal directly with the insurer as far as the cost of repair is concerned. If the car is written-off, research your car's fair market value and be prepared with the amount during settlement.
Call the Police
Even if it is uncertain who caused the accident, call the law enforcement agency. The police will draft a police report. The police report will offer you leverage when settling your claim or giving your side of the story.
Call Your Insurance Provider
Like any accident, a rear-end accident happens in a fraction of a minute, and you might not know what led to the accident, and you could be partially liable. On top of that, the other driver's insurer could deny liability. In both cases, your insurance firm should know, either to process a claim for the motor vehicle or to take legal action against the other company.
Contacting your insurer, notwithstanding liability, you prove a good-faith effort at reporting your crash.
If it is clear that the other driver caused the accident, they should report the accident to their insurance company. However, do not assume the other party will report. Leaving the accident scene is an offense in Nevada. That's why you should gather the information below:
- Name, telephone number, and address of the other motorist
- The other driver's policy number and insurer name
- Witnesses' contact details
- Photos of the accident scene including, the license plate number of the other motorist and damage
Consider Suing the Other Motorist's Insurer
Generally, the other party's insurer will compensate you for the losses incurred. However, in the absence of a police report, the insurer may deny coverage. In this scenario, your insurance provider may award damage, take legal action against the other insurer, or reach an agreement with the other insurer.
You can also sue the defendant's insurance company as a last resort. However, you need to understand the benefits and disadvantages before taking any additional legal action.
Don't Admit Fault
Finally, be cautious about what you say after the accident. It is usual for human beings to say, "I'm sorry," to others out of politeness. Unfortunately, saying you're sorry could be taken to mean you are admitting liability.
Do not admit responsibility even when you think you were partially at fault. Instead, let the law enforcement officers and the jury determine who caused the accident.
What are the Most Common Injuries Suffered in Rear-End Collisions?
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there were approximately 1,700,000 rear-end collisions in 2010, and the number keeps going up every year. The NHTSA also reports that about 2,400,000 rear-end accidents took place in 2016, where seven hundred thousand accidents caused injuries.
Depending on the speed and the angle of the accident, you are likely to suffer from:
A concussion takes place in a car accident when a victim's brain strikes the inside of the skull resulting in tissue compression and bruising.
The concussion does not manifest itself at the accident scene. Any experienced doctor will recommend the family of a head trauma victim to watch the victim for more than twenty-four hours after the accident for loss of balance, nausea, and confusion.
Other symptoms of concussion include:
- Difficulty in concentrating
- Blurred vision
- Sensitivity to light and sounds
Soft Tissue Injuries
Another common type of injury in a road accident is soft tissue injuries. Heavy trauma due to being shaken when a car is struck from behind could damage your nerves. It can also limit the use of your limbs. At low speed, the abrupt snapping of the head forward and back could lead to mobility damage and inflammation.
You are likely to experience symptoms like vision impairment, dizziness, pain between your shoulder blades, headaches, and neck pain. Due to the adrenaline rushing through the body after the accident, you might not experience the above symptoms straight away. Sometimes the symptoms manifest after a couple of weeks.
A herniation happens when the outer fiber surrounding your disc ruptures or tears because of trauma. A herniated disc can happen in your thoracic or cervical region, while a spinal disc herniation occurs in the lumbar area.
Severe herniation can lead to:
- Pain in your legs, feet, and knees
- Back pain
In most cases, symptoms are delayed or misidentified due to shock. Therefore, it is essential to seek medical attention after the accident.
When not putting on a seatbelt, you could be thrown aggressively to the dashboard, windshield, or steering wheel and suffer a skull fracture. Although traumatic brain injury is not common in these types of crashes, they could be serious when they take place. A victim risks suffering permanent damage or even succumbing.
Cerebral swelling creates pressure on your brain, resulting in permanent brain damage, seizures, and strokes. If you're experiencing these symptoms, you need to visit a physician immediately.
Most people believe that a fractured arm or leg will always heal after being set in a plaster cast. Well, this is not always the case. Compound fractures and broken bones can be severe and lead to medical complications, such as internal organ injuries and secondary infections. Wrongly fused bones might lead to limb deformity and decreased functionality.
Since a rear-end accident is sudden, violent, and unexpected, the days after the accident can be confusing and disorienting. Therefore, it is wise to speak to a competent personal injury attorney who will help you understand your financial compensation and treatment options.
Spinal Cord Injury
When a spinal cord injury is severe, you risk being wholly or partially paralyzed. Generally, the level of paralysis hinges on the areas affected in the accident and how severe your injuries are.
A rear-end collision that leads to facial scarring and disfigurement carries a more significant threat than cosmetic issues. These injuries may include broken cheekbone, jaw, or nose or detached retina. Should an object in your car strike your face, you might face an extended medical condition that requires prolonged surgeries and treatment.
Seat Belt Injuries
Seat belts save lives. Nonetheless, when an individual is involved in an accident, a seat belt has been known to lead to injuries.
When a car is hit from behind, the seat belt instantly tightens to hold the body in place and stops it from hitting the dashboard, windshield, and steering wheel. When this takes place, the seat belt can cut the skin when the body is thrust forward.
Seat belt injuries can include laceration and bruises to the torso, neck, and chest.
Nevada is a fault state as far as rear-end car accidents responsibility is concerned. That means, every driver can take legal action against the liable party for compensation of property damage and injuries caused in the accident. The coverage law requires all drivers to have more than:
- $15,000 per person for death or bodily injury
- $10,000 for property damage
- $30,000 per collision for death or injury
Once you get home, you should bring a claim with your insurer.
In an accident settlement, you will agree to a compensation amount from the defendant or their insurance company. In return, you will give up your entitlement to take any legal action concerning the accident. The willingness to settle by those involved and the settlement amount offered will depend on the proof presented. As a result, police reports, witness statements, pictures, and other documentation play a significant role in negotiations.
In Las Vegas, it is illegal for insurance providers to engage in deceiving practices like delaying payments for a valid claim. Nevertheless, an insurer will only look out for their interests. And the company will want you to sign an agreement indicating that you will not bring any claim associated with the rear-end accident. You should not sign any release until you are sure that the settlement amount is fair and covers all your damages, including future medical expenses.
How Much Time Do You Have to File a Lawsuit? Statute of Limitations
The term Statute of Limitations refers to the time limit you have to bring your personal injury lawsuit.
Please note this time limit doesn't apply to a vehicle insurance claim. All insurance providers (both the other motorist's and your own) will need you to make a claim or notify the insurer of the incident that can initiate a claim. You should provide the notice within a reasonable amount of time.
According to Nevada Revised Statutes 11.190, any action to be awarded damages for injury to an individual or for the demise caused by the negligence or wrongful act of another person should be brought within two (2) years.
In other words, if you have been injured in a rear-end accident and plan to file a claim against the liable party, you should do so before two years from the date of the accident.
You also have two years to file a wrongful death lawsuit if your loved one succumbed to an accident caused by a negligent person. The 2-year clock begins running on the day of the victim's demise, which can be later than the accident's date. For property or vehicle damage, you should bring the lawsuit before three years from the date of the collision elapses.
If you attempt to file your claim after the deadline has passed, the defendant will point out the discrepancy to the court as a motion to dismiss. The judge will most likely grant the motion unless rare exceptions apply to extend the deadline, and your case will be dismissed. That is why it is paramount to engage an experienced car accident lawyer. The attorney will help you know how the Statute of Limitations applies to your case.
Damages Awarded in Rear-End Accidents
In Nevada, the defendant is responsible for the damages caused by their negligence.
Compensatory damages are meant to make you whole. They are the costs you have incurred and will incur in the future due to the accident. They include:
- Medical expenses including, physician's charges, physical therapy, and x-rays
- Property damage
- Lost income
- Loss of consortium
- Pain and suffering
It bears repeating that accepting a settlement offer means you have waived your right to make future claims even if you did not know about the damages. Therefore, it is wise not to take the initial settlement offer the insurance provider offers you. Your attorney should be able to evaluate the case and assist you to balance the immediate needs with long-term interests.
The law allows a court to award punitive damages in car accident cases. Unlike compensatory damages, punitive damages are tailored to punish the defendant as well as discourage other people from acting the same way.
Generally, punitive damages in Nevada don't exceed:
- Three hundred thousand dollars if the awarded compensatory damages are less than one hundred thousand dollars
- Three times the amount of the compensatory damages as long as the amount awarded is above one hundred thousand dollars
However, the limits don't apply if the motorist who was stoned or drunk as a result of voluntary consumption of drugs or alcohol caused the accident.
Find a Competent Las Vegas Personal Injury Attorney Near Me
Rear-end auto accidents appear to be among the most straightforward collisions as far as determining liability is concerned. However, this is not always the case. Understanding who is responsible is essential because a rear-end accident can involve multiple motor vehicles as well as lead to severe injuries. Las Vegas Personal Injury Attorney Law Firm can analyze the case for you as well as assist you in receiving the compensation you deserve. Call us today at 702-996-1224 to schedule your initial free consultation.