I was Rear-ended. Should I Get a Lawyer?
You're stuck in stop-and-go traffic or stopped at a traffic light, and suddenly, you are rear-ended. You didn't see it coming, and you definitely weren't expecting it—and now you're injured. There was no way to avoid it, and now you wonder what you're going to do.
If you were involved in a rear-end accident in the state of Florida that was caused by a negligent driver, you need to speak to a Florida car accident attorney. When you're injured due to someone else's negligence, an experienced rear-end car accident lawyer at Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA, can help you to get the compensation that you deserve.
Rear-ended in Florida: What You Should Know
If your car was hit from behind by another motor vehicle, this constitutes a rear-end accident. If your vehicle is moving, the force will generally be less forceful than if you were hit while stopped. However, they are both extremely dangerous, as both cars can ultimately endanger those around them by losing control.
Rear-end collisions are the most frequently occurring type of car accident, according to a report from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA). Approximately 29 percent of all car crashes are rear-ended accidents. Each year, rear-end collisions account for nearly 2 million of all automobile accidents in the United States. There are 17 million licensed drivers in the state of Florida, according to Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, with more than 400,000 motor vehicle crashes each year, causing approximately 254,000 injuries.
Common Causes of Rear-End Accidents
Most rear-end car accidents occur when the leading car is stopped or moving at a slower speed. However, the driver following the vehicle can impact the leading car from a variety of different conditions, which can affect the severity of the sustained injuries. Examples of these conditions are:
- Tailgating, the most common cause of a rear-end accident, is when a driver is following the car in front of them too closely. There is less time and space to react to a need to stop suddenly when drivers do not keep a safe distance from the car that is ahead of them.
- Speeding can cause more serious rear-end accidents, as the force of impact is greater when the driver does not have enough time to slow down to avoid colliding with the car in front of them.
- Distracted driving is when the driver of the car causing the accident was not paying proper attention to what is happening on the road in front of them. This can be anything from texting, talking on the phone, or eating/drinking.
- Hazardous weather conditions can impact everyone's safety when on the roads. Heavy rain, fog, snow, and ice can lead to more slippery roads and decreased reaction time which can cause a driver to lose control of their vehicle.
Common Injuries from Rear-Ended Accidents
Rear-end car accidents are unfortunately quite common, and many people can underestimate how serious injuries can still occur. Oftentimes, rear-ended injuries don't appear for weeks or even months after the crash. While seatbelts and airbags help to reduce movement of the body upon impact, they are often enough to prevent bodily injury.
Even if your collision was considered a minor, lower-impact rear-end accident, you or your passengers could still suffer physical and psychological injuries such as:
- Traumatic brain injury
- Burns and other injuries from inflating airbags
- Persistent back pain
- Spinal damage
- Head injuries
- Chronic pain and suffering
Determining Fault After a Rear-end Accident
Assigning fault in a rear-end accident can be very challenging. For insurance purposes, unless the vehicle in front is going in reverse, the driver of the vehicle that hits the car in front of them is the one to blame. However, if a driver slams on their brakes to avoid hitting a pedestrian or another car and the car behind them cannot stop in time, they may not be to blame.
When you are hit from behind, many people automatically assume the driver who caused the rear-ending is at fault. While this is usually the case, you may not be without some degree of fault in this situation. Did you suddenly stop while traffic was flowing? Are your tail lights in working order?
A Car Accident Attorney Can Help Determine Liability
If you were involved in a rear-end collision case, regardless of how it happened, you should speak with a car accident lawyer who can help accurately assess the situation and provide insights into your legal options. Pursuing a personal injury claim may involve uncovering evidence from the accident scene, witness testimony, and analysis from outside experts.
During your initial free consultation, you have the opportunity to share your side of the story. By working with a personal injury lawyer who understands the nature of these crashes, you can ensure that the at-fault party is held responsible. Your attorney will work with you to build a rock-solid injury claim and help you recover the compensation you deserve.
Liability in a Rear-End Collision Depends on Your State Laws
Whether you pursue financial compensation through a car accident claim with your insurance company or through a personal injury lawsuit depends on where you live.
In an at-fault state, multiple lawsuits could be possible. A driver injured in a car accident can sue their own insurance company, the other driver, or even both.
In a no-fault state, all drivers are required to carry insurance. When they get into an accident, damages can then be recovered from their own insurance policies instead of the other driver. Regardless of who caused the accident, each individual files a claim with their own insurance company.
Rear-End Collisions and Florida Law
Florida is a no-fault insurance state. If you have been in a rear-end accident as a driver or passenger in the state of Florida, you must first file a claim with your insurance company, with no need to prove fault. However, this will only cover medical bills and lost income up to your policy limits. If you find the expenses incurred following a car accident are higher than the limits of your insurance coverage, you may still be able to file a personal injury lawsuit.
Economic and Non-economic Damages
With no-fault coverage, non-economic damages—such as pain and suffering, emotional distress, and loss of enjoyment—are not covered at all. Victims can only recover “reasonable” medical costs when filing an insurance claim with their own insurance company. However, if one can step outside the no-fault system because they meet the criteria, you may collect those non-economic damages plus other forms of compensation, including:
- Lost wages – While you are recovering and can't work, you may recover the wages you lose. Wages may cover bonuses, overtime, and other benefits you would have earned while you were working.
- Home modifications – If your injuries required in-home modifications such as a stair lift, hospital bed, or other changes, you may recover those costs when filing a personal injury lawsuit.
- Other expenses – Victims may have to incur other expenses, including daycare, home cleaning services, and landscaping services while they recover from their injuries. If these expenses are not in the usual course of running their home, you may recover them through a car accident lawsuit against the responsible party.
According to the state's no-fault rules, it is mandatory in the state of Florida for drivers to carry personal injury protection coverage (PIP). With certain limitations, this coverage pays up to $10,000 for almost all injuries that result from a car accident. The amount paid out to the insured will cover up to 80 percent of necessary medical treatment, and 60 percent of any lost income due to injuries.
If your accident resulted in “serious injury”, you can likely file a liability claim or car accident lawsuit against the at-fault driver. If you pursue a claim outside of no-fault, you may be able to receive compensation for non-economic damages such as pain and suffering. No-fault states have statutes that detail the types of injuries that would constitute a “serious injury” that would allow the accident victim to file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver. When losses exceed $10,000, or if your injuries are “serious,” a victim can file a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault driver who was responsible for their injuries.
What Qualifies as a Serious Injury?
According to the statute, Fla. Stat. Ann. Section 627.737, “… a plaintiff may recover damages in tort for pain, suffering, mental anguish, and inconvenience because of bodily injury, sickness, or disease arising out of the ownership, maintenance, operation, or use of such motor vehicle only in the event that the injury or disease consists in whole or in part of:
- Significant and permanent loss of an important bodily function
- Permanent injury within a reasonable degree of medical probability, other than scarring or disfigurement
- Significant and permanent scarring or disfigurement
Car accident victims whose losses do not exceed $10,000 are bound to the no-fault option, and cannot collect damages for non-economic losses such as pain and suffering. Your no-fault coverage will not apply for property damage (car repair costs, etc.). You can file a third-party claim with the at-fault driver's insurance carrier under that driver's property damage liability coverage if your car is damaged in an accident.
Injured in a Rear-End Accident in Florida?
If you have been involved in a Florida rear-end collision, whether you are the lead driver of a rear-ended vehicle or you are the driver who rear-ended another vehicle, first and foremost, call the police. Then, you should consult a Florida personal injury attorney for a free case evaluation to determine what your rights are under the circumstances of your accident.
The experienced rear-end auto accident attorneys at the rear-end accident law firm of Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA, can explain all of your options under Florida law and help you to explore all avenues in order to win you the compensation that you deserve.
Contact Us Today to Schedule a Free, No-Obligation Consultation.
With offices on both Florida coasts, our skilled and knowledgeable Florida personal injury and rear-end collision injury lawyers are available anytime by calling 833-552-7274 (833-55-CRASH), or by contacting us online.