What to Do After a Rear-End Collision
If you’ve been seriously injured in a rear-end car accident in Chicago, you’re likely feeling shocked, confused, and overwhelmed. Rear-end crashes are unfortunately very common on Chicago’s busy streets, and highways often causing severe injuries. Knowing what to do after a car accident can be challenging. This guide will walk you through the key steps to take and how an experienced rear-end accident lawyer can help.
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After getting hit from the rear, the most important thing is to make sure you and your passengers get medical attention for any injuries right away. Even if you feel fine initially, symptoms from whiplash, concussions, and other trauma can appear hours or days later. Under Illinois law, you have two years from the date of a crash to file an injury lawsuit, it is critical to start documenting evidence and consulting a injury accident attorney early.
If you suffered an injury after a Chicago rear-end crash, call Blumenshine Law Group. For over 35 years, our dedicated legal team has recovered millions for injury victims just like you. Don't struggle alone - call our compassionate attorneys at (312) 766-1000 today for a free consultation and learn how we can help you win your case. You pay nothing until we get you the settlement you deserve.
Here’s a detailed overview of what to do following a rear-end collision and how a lawyer can protect your rights every step of the way.
Why Are Rear-End Collisions So Common in Chicago?
Chicago roads are notorious for heavy, stop-and-go traffic as well as driver distractions like mobile phones and other hazardous conditions. Rear-end crashes often happen when the rear driver fails to stop in time and doesn’t leave enough following distance between vehicles. Common causes of auto accidents include:
- Driver distraction or inattention
- Road construction
- Tailgating other vehicles
- Impaired driving
- Slippery road conditions
- Mechanical failures
- Getting cut off suddenly
These factors can cause the rear driver to crash into the car in front, violently jolting the occupants inside and potentially causing major injuries.
Who Is Liable in a Rear-End Collision?
Generally, the rear driver is primarily liable since they have a duty to leave enough stopping distance between vehicles.
However, fault can get tricky. While drivers following you are often deemed negligent for failure to stop in time, front drivers' actions can also contribute to the collision. Let's break down fault and liability:
First, we know that rear drivers have a clear obligation to leave ample space between cars and avoid collisions. If they slam into the back of your car, their inattention or failure to brake is the prime cause.
Second, don't assume the front driver has zero fault! Their actions may have made the crash inevitable or worse. Sudden stops, improper signaling, disabled brake lights, or swerving into another lane can leave the rear car helpless to avoid impact. The front driver's negligence may reduce or even eliminate the rear driver's liability in rare cases.
Sometimes, Chicago rear collisions involve shared fault between both drivers and others. For instance, the rear car may have been tailgating, but the front driver stopped abruptly. In these blended negligence cases, fault percentages are assigned to each party. Your compensation could be reduced by your allocated percentage, under Illinois' comparative negligence laws.
In short, rear-end liability is situational. While typically blamed on the rear car, careful legal investigation may uncover the front driver's contributing actions or improper vehicle maintenance that warrant dividing fault. An experienced attorney conducts in-depth crash analysis and knows how to maximize your claim when negligence overlaps. Don't assume the rear driver is the sole cause - complex fault factors are frequently at play.
What Kinds of Injuries Result from Car Accidents?
Collisions often lead to severe trauma because the body is not designed to absorb the severe impact caused by a motor vehicle. Common injuries include:
- Severed spine and trauma - damage to the neck muscles, discs, and vertebrae
- Concussions and traumatic brain injury
- Spinal cord damage - including herniated discs or paralysis
- Back and neck fractures
- Internal organ damage
- Bruising and lacerations
- Knee/foot/leg damage from impact into the dashboard or twisting on impact
These injuries can result in extensive medical treatment, expensive rehabilitation, lost income, and permanent disabilities. These injuries are painful and disabling. Sadly, rear-end crashes also result in fatalities more often than other accident types.
What Key Steps Should You Take After a Rear-End Collision?
If you’ve been the victim of a rear-end crash in Chicago, make sure to take these important steps:
Get Medical Attention Immediately
This is the top priority for any auto accident injury. Even if you feel fine at first, it’s critical to get examined by a doctor as soon as possible. Soft tissue injuries and internal trauma often have delayed onset of symptoms. Pay attention to how you feel. Prompt diagnosis and treatment lead to better outcomes long term.
Call the Police
Contact the police department to file an official report for the accident. Having the crash fully documented in a police report is crucial for insurance and legal claims later. Make sure to get the responding officer's badge number and report number.
Gather Accident Evidence
If able to do so safely, take photos of the accident scene, vehicle damage, injuries/bruising, skid marks on the road, and any other relevant evidence. Also, be sure to exchange insurance and contact info with the other driver involved.
Consult an Accident Attorney Early
Contact a zealous experienced car accident lawyer for guidance on your legal rights and options. They can help protect your rights, deal with insurance companies on your behalf, prove liability and fault, and pursue maximum compensation for your injuries, lost income, pain and suffering, and other damages. Many times people compromise their rights by trying to navigate this complex process on their own. Do not give statements or sign anything with the insurance company without consulting a lawyer.
How Can an Accident Lawyer Help?
Retaining legal representation after a Chicago car accident is highly advisable but it’s important to choose a committed attorney who has specific experience with these types of injury cases. An accomplished rear-end accident lawyer can provide enormous value including:
- Performing a thorough investigation of the accident to prove fault and liability on the rear driver
- Gathering all evidence like police reports, photos, video footage, and witness statements
- Negotiating aggressively with insurance companies and defense attorneys to demand fair compensation
- Determining the full scope of damages and long-term costs of your injuries
- Filing a personal injury lawsuit in Chicago if a satisfactory settlement isn’t reached
The lawyer essentially takes over communication with insurers and defense attorneys so you can focus on healing. A competent committed law firm has the skills and resources to build the strongest claim possible on your behalf.
What Damages Can You Recover After a Crash?
As the innocent victim of a rear-end collision in Chicago, you may be entitled to legal compensation for a wide array of damages, such as:
- Past and future medical bills, including hospitalization, surgeries, therapy, rehabilitation, prescriptions, equipment
- Lost income from missed work due to recovering from injuries
- Loss of future earning capacity if disabilities prevent you from returning to work
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Loss of consortium damages for impact to family relationships
- Wrongful death expenses if a fatality is involved
- Property damage to your vehicle
- Cost of a rental car while yours is repaired
- And more
The at-fault rear driver’s insurance policy is liable for compensatory damages up to the policy limits. For many cases of extremely severe crashes, fair compensation may be recovered by filing a personal injury claim or lawsuit.
A skilled Chicago rear-end accident attorney can calculate the full scope of current and future costs stemming from the crash to pursue maximum payouts. Don’t accept an insurer’s lowball offer before understanding your rights.
Average Settlement for Rear-End Collision
The average settlement amount for a collision can vary significantly and depends on a number of factors, including:
- Severity of injuries - More severe injuries that require extensive medical treatment, rehabilitation, and leave permanent impairments warrant higher settlements. Minor soft tissue injuries may receive smaller settlements.
- Insurance coverage limits - Settlements are often limited by the at-fault driver's policy limits, so lower limits mean lower potential payouts. Higher insurance coverage allows larger settlements.
- Liability apportionment - If both drivers are deemed partially at fault, the settlement will be reduced by the claimant's percentage of fault. Strong liability against the rear driver leads to higher payouts.
- Lost income and future damages - Ongoing disabilities that impact earning potential increase settlement value. More lost income accrued prior to settlement leads to higher payouts.
- Availability of punitive damages - In rare cases where gross negligence or intentional misconduct is proven, punitive damages can be recovered on top of normal compensatory damages, increasing the total settlement.
- Location and local claim value - Cost of living, healthcare costs, and average jury verdicts in the accident jurisdiction impact claim value. Larger cities like Chicago tend to yield higher settlements.
An experienced Chicago accident attorney can assess the unique circumstances in your case to determine the potential settlement value and fight to maximize it. Don't accept an insurer's initial low offer.
Rear-End Case Settlements
$2,750,000 - Person sustained major head injuries after their vehicle was struck from behind by a negligent driver on an interstate highway in the Chicago area. Over one year, the case was litigated in Cook County court and eventually negotiated a settlement at a pre-trial conference.
$1,250,000 - Our client sustained neck and back injuries in a rear car crash. He underwent neck surgery (posterior cervical discectomy and fusion) and developed back pain and symptoms radiating into legs (myelopathy).
$650,000 - Arbitration Award. Our 52-year-old client, a heating and air conditioning mechanic, was injured in a rear collision by an underinsured motorist. Our client suffered shoulder and back injuries. His treatment included shoulder surgery and the implantation of a spinal cord stimulator.
Act Fast to Protect Your Rights After a Chicago Rear-End Collision
Being the victim of a rear-end accident in Chicago can inflict physical, emotional, and financial hardship. But you don’t have to deal with the aftermath alone. Call or text an experienced Chicago rear-end collision lawyer at Blumenshine Law Group at (312)766-1000 or [email protected] right away for trusted guidance and dedicated advocacy. They have the expertise to thoroughly investigate the crash, prove fault, deal with insurers, and fight in court for full and fair compensation so you can focus on your recovery and peace of mind. Don’t delay in seeking legal help.