Chris and James Welsh of Welsh & Welsh
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What to Do After You Have Been Rear-Ended

Published on Dec 10, 2018 at 2:40 pm in Car Accidents.

Rear-end collisions are among the most common type of motor vehicle accident. While something that is often referred to as a “fender bender” may not seem severe, this type of collision is particularly dangerous because drivers are often caught off guard. This shock can significantly impact how our bodies handle the crash because we may not be given the chance to brace ourselves.

No matter the severity of your accident, if it was caused by the negligent actions of another driver, you have the right to take legal action. Dealing with insurance companies can be complicated. That stress may be compounded if you’re dealing with the physical consequences of your accident. Our attorneys at Welsh & Welsh PC, LLO are prepared to provide you with the legal representation you deserve, so you fully understand what you are entitled to, to aid in your recovery.

How Common are Rear-End Accidents in Nebraska?

Just like in the rest of the country, motor vehicle accidents happen every day in Nebraska. While the crashes tend to vary greatly in severity, there are identifiable collision types. All crashes can be defined by the following categories:

  • Head On
  • Rear-End
  • Sideswipe
  • Angle
  • Backed Into
  • Left Turn Leaving
  • Other

You may be surprised to learn just how common rear-end accidents are in Nebraska. Rear-end crashes involving multiple vehicles accounted for 40 percent of the accidents – the majority of which happened at intersections. According to Nebraska’s 2016 Traffic Crash Facts report, approximately 41 percent of those accidents resulted in injury or death.

If you’ve wrongfully lost a loved one in a rear-end crash, our attorneys can provide you with the guidance you need to handle the grief and unexpected financial burdens.

What Are the Common Causes of Rear-End Collisions?

A rear-end accident occurs when the front end of one vehicle hits the rear-end of another. Part of driving responsibly involves maintaining a safe distance between vehicles so that slowing down or stopping, especially in emergency situations or inclement weather, doesn’t result in a collision. The best way to avoid a rear-end accident is to understand the most common causes.

  • Tailgating. Drivers tailgate for a number of reasons. They may be running late and trying to rush to get where they’re going, or they could be using a cell phone and not paying attention to the distance between them and the car in front of them. No matter the reason, tailgating is considered reckless driving behavior according to Nebraska Revised Statute 60-6,213 because it impedes a driver’s ability to stop quickly in the event of an emergency.
  • Drunk Driving. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 3.4 percent of Nebraska drivers reported driving after drinking too much. From 2003 to 2012, 682 people were killed in accidents involving intoxicated motorists. Drunk driving can result in a rear-end collision because alcohol affects how the brain processes information and surroundings. A drunk driver may not realize how close they are to the vehicle in front of them and cause a crash.
  • Distracted Driving. It can take less than a second for an accident to happen because a driver is distracted. Whether they’re eating, texting, talking on the phone, or distracted by ongoings inside or outside the vehicle, they risk the chance of hitting the back of the vehicle in front of them. Because driving requires mental, physical, and visual attention, Nebraska law prohibits the use of handheld wireless devices while operating a motor vehicle.
  • Speeding. Similarly to those drivers who choose to tailgate, speeders do not leave enough space in between vehicles. This can be especially dangerous at stop lights when a negligent driver could attempt to make a yellow light and end up hitting the stopped car in front of them.
  • Weather Conditions. Driving responsibly means knowing how to drive in inclement weather like rain, ice, snow, and fog – all which can significantly decrease visibility. Reckless drivers may choose to not take safety precautions and hit the person in front of them because they couldn’t see them. This can be deadly, especially when traveling at high speeds on interstates and highways.

What Kinds of Injuries are Associated With Rear-End Crashes?

When a rear-end crash happens, no matter the speed, the occupants’ bodies are jerked forward from the force of the impact and immediately pulled back by the halt when the vehicles come to a stop. The speed at which the crash happens often has an impact on the severity of the injuries. The most common kinds of injuries people sustain after a rear-end accident include the following:

  • Whiplash. This is the most common injury sustained from a rear-end collision. When hit from behind, a person’s head is likely to snap forward because of the impact and quickly snap back when the vehicle stops. This sudden extension and flexion can damage the joints, discs, ligaments, muscles, and nerve roots in the neck.
  • Head and Brain Injuries. According to the CDC, 153 people die every day from traumatic brain injuries (TBI). A rear-end wreck can result in a TBI, especially at high speeds. Any time a bump, blow, or jolt disrupts the normal function of the brain, a person can sustain a brain injury. While mild injuries, like concussions, generally heal, the most severe injuries can result in death.
  • Back Injuries. Even at low speeds, the force of an impact can result in compression of the spine and discs in the lower spinal column. When force is put on the vertebrae, soreness and even excruciating lower back pain are possible.
  • Spinal Cord Paralysis. When the spine is severely injured, the victim can become partially or completely paralyzed. Spinal cord injuries can be incredibly difficult to recover from. In some cases, paralysis is permanent.
  • Airbag Injuries. Airbags deploy to protect vehicle occupants from making impact with the inside of the vehicle. In the event of a rear-end crash, however, the impact can force a person hard enough that they are injured by the airbag. Common airbag injuries include facial lacerations, burns, and broken bones.
  • Facial Disfigurement. If the airbag doesn’t deploy during a rear-end accident, the occupants could strike the interior of the car. The face, being as sensitive as it is, is susceptible to disfigurement from broken bones and eye injuries. Facial injuries often require extensive treatment and reconstructive surgeries.
  • Wrist and Arm Injuries. When any impact occurs, the driver most likely has their hands on the steering wheel. If a driver is aware they are about to be struck from behind, they are likely to brace themselves by tightly gripping the wheel. This can cause injuries like broken or sprained wrists or dislocated shoulders.

Recovery from car accident injuries can be difficult. While an injury like whiplash can heal within three months, spinal cord paralysis can be permanent. Treatment is different for everyone. Depending on the severity of the injuries, multiple surgeries could be needed. With less severe injuries, physical therapy or rest may be all that’s needed. Your doctor will be able to help you determine the best course of treatment, so you can heal or find your new normal.

While your doctors can help you recover physically, our Omaha attorneys can help you recover financially. We’ll handle the complicated legal work so you can focus on healing.

What Should You Do Immediately After Being Rear-Ended?

No matter how your accident happens, it’s bound to be a jarring experience. It’s important to try to remain calm and complete the following steps:

  • Evaluate yourself and others for injuries. Immediately following your accident, stop your vehicle and take a deep breath. Panicking will only exacerbate the situation. Check yourself for injuries. If you are able to, check on the other occupants of your vehicle, as well as the occupants of the other vehicles involved. Seek medical attention for those who need it. Even if you feel okay, it’s still a good idea to be looked over by a doctor. Not all injuries are visible.
  • Document the incident. Recall everything you can about what happened, where it happened, and when it happened, and write it down. The sooner you do this after the wreck happened the better. If you wait, you may forget important details. It’s also a good idea to take photographs of the accident scene, the damage sustained to the vehicles, and any physical injuries you’ve incurred.
  • Exchange information. By law, you are required to collect information from the individuals who were involved in the accident. You’ll need their contact and insurance information, as well as their driver’s license number and license plate. You will need to give this information to your insurance company.
  • Report the accident. Depending on the severity of the accident, a police report may have been filed at the time the incident happened. If not, you have 10 days after the accident to complete and submit a Driver’s Motor Vehicle Accident Report to the Nebraska Department of Roads (DOR) if the accident resulted in injury or death or property damage exceeding $1,000.
  • File a claim with your insurance company. You’ll want to inform your insurance company of the crash so you can start working toward receiving the compensation you’ll need to recover. Speak with an adjuster but avoid accepting any offers until you’ve spoken with an attorney. They will ensure you receive full and fair compensation. Never speak to the other driver’s insurance company without consulting a lawyer.

How Is Fault Determined for a Rear-End Collision in Nebraska?

When it comes to auto accidents and insurance claims, Nebraska is an at-fault state. This means that if you were injured and the other driver is found to be liable, there are three ways to recover damages:

  • File a claim with your insurance company
  • File a third-party claim with the other driver’s insurance company
  • File a lawsuit

Through a thorough investigation, your car accident attorney can prove you were not at fault for being rear-ended. The lawyer will examine your record of the incident, the report you submitted to the DOR, and any other useful evidence, including witness testimony – if available. To be offered a settlement, you have to prove that the opposing driver’s fault is higher than yours. Once liability has been determined, you can work toward accepting a settlement offer that works for you.

Depending on the circumstances, you may be eligible for compensation to cover the following economic and noneconomic damages:

  • Medical expenses
  • Lost wages
  • Future cost of care
  • Property damage
  • Pain and suffering

While there are no limits on damages, it’s important to know that punitive damages, those used to punish the guilty party, are deemed unconstitutional in Nebraska. It’s also important to remember that the statute of limitations states you have four years to file a lawsuit for personal injury and damage to personal property. If this time limit isn’t met, the case is likely to be dismissed without review.

Our Omaha firm has represented many auto collision victims who were involved in rear-end accidents. No matter the circumstances of the wreck, our experienced car accident attorneys will help prove you need and deserve compensation to recover physically, emotionally, and financially from what you’ve been wrongfully put through.

Welsh & Welsh PC, LLO handles all types of auto wreck and personal injury claims. We are dedicated to helping individuals and their families get their lives back in order. If you or a loved one has been injured in a rear-end collision or another type of motor vehicle wreck, contact our firm today to learn about your legal rights and options.