Rear-end collisions are some of the most common – and dangerous – car accidents. These crashes happen when one vehicle is struck from behind by another vehicle traveling in the same direction. Distracted driving, texting and driving, and tailgating are common causes of rear-end collisions. Fault usually, but not always, lies with the driver of the vehicle that hits the car in front of it.
You have a right to demand justice if you’ve been injured in a rear-end collision – and you’ve got to get it right the first time. Make it count. Let the experienced Georgia car accident lawyers at the Butler Law Firm help you pursue the compensation you deserve.
Whenever you are ready to discuss your potential claim and your legal options, please contact the Butler Law Firm by phone or online. It costs you nothing to consult with our attorneys and there are no strings attached. Our team can help you evaluate your legal options after a rear-end collision, and then help you pursue a claim for damages if you choose that path.
Who’s at Fault for a Rear-End Accident?
Determining fault in any car accident involves looking at the circumstances of the accident, along with the applicable rules of the road. In most rear-end collision cases, this means the driver who struck another car from behind will be at fault because they have a responsibility to leave a reasonable following distance and to watch out for slowed or stopped traffic. Often, a driver who strikes another vehicle in the rear will receive a citation or ticket for “following too closely” in violation of O.C.G.A. § 40-6-49.
In some situations, the driver of the vehicle that is hit from behind may be at fault. For example, if the driver suddenly changed lanes in front of a car and jammed on the brakes for no reason, that driver might be at fault. A chain-reaction crash could also mean fault lies somewhere other than with a driver who rear-ended the vehicle in front.
It is also possible for a third-party to bear fault for a rear-end crash. For example, in a multi-car pileup, one vehicle might strike another vehicle in the rear, forcing it into the vehicle ahead of it. Or a vehicle that is illegally parked on the road might cause one car to slam on its brakes, causing another car to strike it in the rear.
How Our Lawyers Prove Fault After a Rear-End Traffic Collision
Determining fault in a rear-end car accident involves figuring out which party was negligent. To claim compensation from another driver after an accident, you will need to provide evidence to show that:
- The other driver owed you a duty of care. This is fairly simple, as state traffic laws maintain that all motorists owe others on the road a duty of care to avoid causing crashes.
- The driver’s careless actions or failure to act led to the accident. Negligence can be both a positive action and a negative action, meaning it can occur as a result of someone’s actions or because they failed to take some action. In the case of a rear-end car accident, you’ll have to demonstrate how the responsible party’s actions or inaction caused the crash.
- You were injured in the crash. If you’re involved in a rear-end car crash, make sure to save all your medical records. These records will help show the extent of your injuries as well as the financial losses you incurred as you sought appropriate medical treatment.
Proving a negligence claim can be easier said than done, though. That’s why you need an experienced, dedicated legal team to assemble the necessary evidence and build a convincing case. Here are some of the types of evidence that are often used in rear-end collision claims:
- Police reports – Law enforcement agencies usually investigate accidents in which at least one driver reports serious injuries. Police may issue a citation for traffic violations once they’ve completed their investigation. While this is a separate criminal penalty, police reports can provide valuable pieces of evidence in civil claims.
- Statements from the drivers – While each driver in a rear-end collision has their own goals and perspective, they are also the ones who were most closely involved with what happened, so their testimony can be a crucial part of the case. Driver testimony is often supplemented with other evidence to better substantiate each driver’s version of what happened.
- Eyewitness testimony – Third-party testimony from uninvolved drivers, pedestrians, or others can help determine which driver is telling a more accurate version of what happened in the crash. If you’ve been involved in a rear-end collision and notice someone who saw what happened, be sure to get their contact information.
- Photos and video – Pictures and video of the accident scene can provide crucial context for the environment where the accident occurred, offering clues about the weather, road conditions, nearby hazards, and other factors that may have caused the accident.
- Medical records – Your medical records can help show the extent of your injuries as well as shed light on how they occurred. Your physician may also be called to testify on the nature and extent of your injuries.
What to Do After a Rear-End Car Accident
Being involved in a car accident is a scary experience. It can be difficult to stay focused after an accident, but it’s crucial that you keep your wits about you. Here’s what you should do if you’re involved in a rear-end collision:
- Call 911 right away. There may be people who have been seriously hurt after an accident and need immediate medical treatment. Calling 911 will get emergency responders moving and will begin the official investigation into the cause of the accident.
- Take pictures and video of the crash scene. You want as much evidence from the scene of the crash as possible, so take plenty of pictures and videos if you are able. Make sure to get photos of the damage to each vehicle, the area where the accident happened, any nearby traffic hazards, and so on.
- Get contact information from the other driver and any witnesses. For any other drivers who were involved in the accident, you also want to get their license plate, the make and model of their car, the name of their insurance carrier, and their insurance policy number.
- Notify your insurance company. Even if you are not to blame for the accident, you’ll want to let your insurance company know. Simply let them know the basics of where and when the accident occurred, and who was involved. You do not have to discuss your views on who was at fault, and you do not have to speak to the other driver’s insurer. It’s usually smart to talk with a good lawyer before calling insurance companies.
- Seek medical treatment. If you do not seek emergency medical attention at the scene, you should still get a thorough examination as soon as possible if you’ve been hurt. Even if your injuries seem minor at first, there may be hidden injuries that haven’t fully shown up after the accident.
- Talk to a lawyer. An attorney will let you know if you may have a case for damages and can begin the process of filing a claim. The sooner you talk to an attorney, the better.
Compensation After a Rear-End Accident in Georgia
Here are some of the kinds of compensation you can claim after a rear-end collision:
- Economic damages – This includes the cost of past and future medical treatment, lost wages from missing work, any property damage as a result of the accident, and other financial losses.
- Non-economic damages – This includes compensation for your physical pain and mental anguish, your lost enjoyment of life, and your spouse’s loss of companionship, for example.
Time Is Limited for Filing a Rear-End Collision Claim
Georgia law allows a limited time frame for pursuing compensation after a rear-end collision. The statute of limitations means that you have two years from the date of the accident to file a claim for any personal injuries, and four years to file a claim for property damage.
If you do not file a claim by the deadline, you will most likely permanently lose your chance to claim compensation. Only very narrow exceptions can extend the deadlines.