There are many different types of collisions involving motor vehicles. Common types of car accidents include head-on crashes, failure to yield the right of accidents, rollover accidents, sideswipe accidents, and side-impact crashes.
However, rear-end accidents continue to top the list of the most common type of car accidents in the United States.
Why are Rear-End Crashes Common?
Over two million rear-end accidents occurred in the United States in 2018. Why does this type of crash continue to be one of the most common types of motor vehicle collisions?
Driver inattention is a factor in many rear-impact accidents. Drivers do not pay attention to the road ahead. By the time they notice a car has stopped in front of their vehicle, it is too late to avoid a crash.
In addition to distracted driving, speeding and following too closely are common causes of rear-end crashes. Driver fatigue, impaired driving, and aggressive driving can also be factors in rear-end accidents.
Paying attention to the road, following traffic laws, and practicing good driving behaviors can avoid rear-impact accidents. For example, when driving in poor weather conditions or congested traffic, slow down, focus on the road, and allow extra distance between your vehicle and the vehicle in front of you.
When you purchase a new vehicle, choose a model with an AEB (automatic emergency braking) system and other driver assist technology. This safety technology can help you avoid a collision or slow the vehicle down to reduce the severity of the crash.
Common Rear-End Accident Injuries
A rear-end accident can cause numerous injuries. However, one of the most common injuries that people sustain in a rear-end crash is whiplash.
Whiplash occurs when your neck jerks back and forth during a rear-impact collision. The jerking motion tears and damages the muscles, ligaments, and tendons in your neck. Whiplash can cause chronic pain and limited range of motion.
Other injuries that are common in rear-end accidents include:
- Head injuries
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Broken bones
- Airbag injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Seat belt injuries
- Chest injuries
- Spinal fractures
- Herniated discs
- Facial injuries
Some injuries might not be immediately known after a car accident. Some people assume the aches and pains they experience after a rear-end crash are “normal.” However, these symptoms might indicate a severe injury.
Seeking medical treatment after a car crash is a good idea. Only a doctor can diagnose injuries and prepare a treatment plan. Delaying medical care could have negative consequences for your health and your personal injury claim.
Florida’s No-Fault Laws and Rear-End Accidents
Because Florida is a no-fault state for car accidents, you must file a claim with your Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage after a car accident. PIP is no-fault insurance. It compensates you regardless of whether you contributed to the cause of the car wreck.
All drivers in Florida are required to purchase a minimum of $10,000 in PIP coverage. You can purchase higher amounts of PIP coverage if you desire. Unfortunately, your PIP insurance does not reimburse you for all financial losses and damages.
PIP coverage pays up to 80 percent of your medical bills. It also pays up to 60 percent of your loss of income. However, it only pays you benefits up to your policy limits.
If your medical bills or lost income exceeds the policy limits, you are responsible for those costs. However, if your injuries meet the serious injury threshold, you could file a personal injury claim against the driver who caused the accident.
What is the Serious Injury Threshold in Florida?
The serious injury threshold is an exception to the no-fault insurance rules. It allows an accident victim to file a personal injury claim against an at-fault driver in certain circumstances. The benefit of filing the injury claim against the other driver is receiving compensation for your damages.
Florida statutes define serious injuries as injuries that result in:
- Loss of life
- Permanent and significant disfigurement or scarring
- Permanent and significant loss of an important body function
- Permanent injuries that are not disfigurement or scarring that are within a reasonable degree of medical probability
You must have medical evidence that supports your claim of a serious injury, which is another reason to seek immediate medical care after a rear-end accident.
If you meet the serious injury threshold and you have evidence proving that the other driver caused the rear-end accident, you could be entitled to compensation for your:
- Medical bills and expenses
- Loss of income and benefits
- Future damages, including ongoing medical care, personal care, lost wages, and decreased earning potential
- Other out-of-pocket financial losses and expenses
- Disfigurement, disability, scarring, and impairments
- Physical pain and suffering
- Mental anguish and emotional distress
- Loss of quality of life
- Psychological injuries, including anxiety disorders, depression, and PTSD
The value of your personal injury claim for a rear-end accident depends on the facts in your case. However, careful documentation of your damages increases the chance you receive maximum compensation for your injuries and damages.
Do’s & Don’ts After a Rear-End Car Accident in Florida
The steps you take after your car accident could hurt or help your case. Your attorney will provide additional advice and guidance, but the following do’s and don’ts are good to keep in mind:
- DO report car crashes to the police immediately
- DO seek prompt medical treatment and follow your doctor’s treatment plan
- DON’T admit fault at the accident scene
- DO report any additional symptoms or worsening symptoms to your doctor immediately
- DON’T talk to the insurance company or a claims adjuster without talking to your lawyer first
- DON’T provide a written or recorded statement for the insurance company
- DON’T sign any documents until your attorney reviews the documents
- DO let your attorney handle all settlement negotiations with the insurance company
- DO contact a car accident lawyer as soon as possible
The insurance company has a team of people working to protect its best interest. The claims adjuster will not tell you if a settlement offer is much lower than the value of your injury claim. The claims adjuster will not tell you that you should have a personal injury lawyer review your settlement agreement before signing it.
Once you settle your rear-end accident claim, you cannot file a lawsuit or demand more money. Even if you discover you have additional injuries, you cannot receive any more money for your claim.
Before you accept a settlement, talk with a lawyer to ensure you do what is in your best interest. A personal injury lawyer has your best interest in mind when he offers advice and guidance.