Even simple fender benders cause injuries and millions of dollars in damages each year. Severe rear-end crashes can lead to catastrophic or even fatal injuries.
Whether you sustained a minor or severe injury in one of these accidents or even lost someone you love, an experienced Denver car accident lawyer can help you pursue compensation for your damages.
Causes of Colorado Rear-End Accidents
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports approximately 2,500 deadly rear-end collisions annually, accounting for over seven percent of all fatal motor vehicle accidents.
Many of these rear-end accidents in Colorado result from distracted driving or following too close. Drivers are in a hurry to get where they are going; they might be speeding on top of following too close and not paying attention as they should be. Alcohol or drug-impaired driving can also lead to these types of accidents. For example, a mechanical defect with brakes or something else within a vehicle is another cause of some rear-end accidents.
Suppose the driver who was in front made a sudden and unexpected stop or lane change. In that case, there’s the possibility that they caused the accident. Being illegally parked on a roadway can also make the victim driver at fault.
Rear-end accidents might seem straightforward, but having an experienced Denver rear-end car accident lawyer on your side who can get to the root cause of the accident is invaluable. It’s one of the first steps in getting you what you deserve for your injuries.
Who Might You Hold at Fault for a Rear-End Collision?
At first glance, it makes sense to think that the back driver is always at fault when a rear-end collision occurs. However, this isn’t always the case. Several circumstances can cause the front driver to be either partially or entirely at fault for the rear-end collision.
Since these types of accidents can be detailed and tricky, most accident victims will benefit from speaking with an experienced Denver rear-end car accident lawyer to decide how to handle their claim.
When Is the Lead Driver At-Fault?
When a rear-end accident occurs, the driver in the back is often at fault due to following too closely or speeding, but not in every accident.
You can hold the front driver at fault in a rear-end accident if they drove recklessly or negligently, which can include actions such as:
- Backing up into the rear car
- Deliberately trying to get hit
- Driving with broken brake lights
- Drunk while under the influence of alcohol or drugs
Just as in other accidents, you can hold the driver responsible for causing the accident liable for the damages they cause.
Negligence is Key
Driver negligence is the key to determining who is at fault for any accident. To receive compensation for their injuries, car accident victims or their Denver rear-end car accident attorneys generally must prove the other driver (or, in some cases, another party) was negligent.
The elements for negligence require establishing:
- The at-fault driver owed the victim a duty of care
- The at-fault driver breached their duty of care by being negligent
- The at-fault driver’s negligence caused the victim’s injuries
- The victim’s injuries resulted in compensable damages
Typically, the standard of care for drivers includes:
- Obeying traffic laws
- Keeping a lookout for pedestrians, obstacles, and other vehicles
- Controlling the speed and movement of the vehicle
Failure to use reasonable care in driving a vehicle is negligence. It doesn’t matter if the negligent driver was the front or the rear driver in a rear-end accident. You can hold the negligent driver liable for the damages they cause.
Injuries From Rear-End Accidents
Rear-end collisions frequently occur in the Denver metro area. Severe injuries can result no matter what speed the vehicles traveled at when the accident occurred. If you suffered injuries, you have a legal right to compensation for your damages. Some injuries are quite common in rear-end collisions, including the following.
Whiplash is likely the most common injury in a rear-end accident. When the forces of the car coming from behind suddenly and unexpectedly hit your vehicle, it causes your neck to quickly and forcefully snap forward and backward again. The human neck cannot withstand such strength and force.
As a result, the accident can sprain and strain soft tissues in and around the neck—a condition called whiplash. This injury is painful and can take several weeks or months to heal. It may limit mobility and require physical therapy. The National Safety Council reports that as many as 80 percent of those who suffer from whiplash have pain and soreness that lasts longer than a week, and 50 percent report that it lasts over a year.
Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI)
A TBI can be life-threatening and life-altering. When someone suffers head trauma or a violent jolt, the brain can sustain damage when hitting the skull. Those who survive a TBI may experience seizures, personality changes, depression, and other symptoms and health issues for the rest of their lives.
Rear-end collisions also subject the back to extreme forces. Even accidents occurring at low speeds can cause back pain and problems. Disc compression, slips, bulging, and muscle strains are common. Victims may experience soreness, pain, and mobility problems for weeks or even months after this type of accident.
Spinal Cord Injuries (SCI)
Since the spinal cord is within the vertebral column, it can also suffer injury in an accident. The spinal cord is at risk of suffering various types of injuries, including bruises, cuts, and even complete severing. Severe SCIs can lead to temporary or permanent paralysis of some or all limbs.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Sometimes the most traumatic injuries are those without symptoms. Accident victims can suffer from emotional and mental problems, including PTSD. Even though the symptoms may not be visible, getting treatment and working towards recovery is imperative. However, just like physical injuries, it requires time and expense.
How Long Does it Take to Recover from a Rear-End Collision?
Since the injuries suffered in a rear-end vehicle accident can vary so much in type and severity, there’s, unfortunately, no one-size-fits-all answer for how long it takes to recover from these accidents. More severe and extensive injuries will require a longer recovery time. In contrast, bumps, scrapes, bruises, and some soft tissue injuries will heal quicker.
Rear-End Collision Claim Damages
Damages refer to the money a victim receives for their losses and inconveniences. A victim’s damages can be negotiated in a settlement or paid from a jury award.
Compensatory damages include economic and non-economic damages. They aim to compensate the victim. The types and amounts of damages a victim receives will vary from one claim to the next.
Economic damages can include:
- Past and future medical bills and expenses
- Past and future lost income
- Legal expenses and attorneys fees
- The cost to replace or repair your property
Non-economic damages often cover:
- Pain and suffering
- Scarring and disfigurement
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Emotional trauma
- Mental anguish
- Loss of consortium
Punitive damages may also be awarded in an injury claim, although they aren’t as common. A court can order this kind of damages if the at-fault party was particularly reckless or deliberate with their actions. Instead of compensating the victim, punitive damages aim to punish and deter the at-fault party and other parties from participating in the same behaviors.
How Long Do You Have to File a Denver Car Accident Lawsuit?
Every state has a deadline for filing personal injury claims. This deadline is commonly known as the statute of limitations. In Colorado, the statute is two years from the date of the accident to file a lawsuit.
If your claim is against a government entity, you only have six months after the accident to file a notice of claim.
Other factors can alter the statute of limitations that applies to your rear-end accident claim, so you must be aware of the time constraints you have. Minors have different deadlines for filing claims to help protect their rights.
If you attempt to file a personal injury claim once the statute of limitations has expired for your case, you will more than likely be barred from receiving compensation for your damages. Hiring a Denver rear-end car accident lawyer should be done well before this time runs out.
Should You Accept an Insurance Settlement Offer?
After suffering damages in a rear-end car accident, you have many rights and options. One of the first things you should do is exercise your right to hire an experienced Denver rear-end car accident lawyer to represent you. It is not uncommon for insurance companies to contact injured individuals as soon as possible after an accident in an attempt to get them to settle, unbeknownst to them, for much less than their case might be worth if they hired an attorney.
Don’t let these tactics fool you. Do not speak to the insurance company or settle your claim without first consulting with an attorney. More often than not, injured individuals who are represented by an attorney will receive significantly higher settlements than those who are not. Having legal representation shows the insurance company that you are aware of your rights and intend to pursue the compensation you are entitled to receive.
Once you have secured the services of an attorney, they can negotiate any settlements with the insurance company and their attorneys. Your attorney knows how much compensation you could recover if your goes to court. If the insurance company refuses to offer you a fair settlement, your attorney will take your case to trial if you want so that you can receive the compensation you deserve.
Do You Need a Lawyer for a Minor Rear-End Car Accident?
The problem with minor car accidents is that many turn out to be not so minor at all. For example, you may leave the scene of the accident with a dented and scratched bumper only to find out a few days later that the entire frame of your vehicle is damaged, and now you need a new car. You may feel fine that evening but learn in the coming days or weeks that you have a neck injury that will take months to recover from.
These so-called minor accidents can turn into big headaches. You need compensation for your medical bills, property damage, and perhaps even lost income at work. The insurance companies may give you a runaround and question your account of how the accident happened while you merely just want to pay your bills, get back to work, and move on with your life.
No matter how small your rear-end accident may initially seem, you can ensure that your legal rights and financial interests are secure when you meet with a well-versed Denver rear-end car accident attorney. Then you can let the attorney decide if your case is worth pursuing. Suppose you assume that your car accident was too minor. In that case, you may be leaving compensation on the table you are rightfully entitled to receive for your damages.
Contact a Denver Rear-End Car Accident Lawyer Today
Rear-end accidents are often simple, but resolving their related accident claims can turn out to be complex. For example, there may be questions and arguments over who is at fault, how the accident happened, and the value of your damages. As such, hire a personal injury lawyer in Denver as soon as possible after an injury a rear-end accident.