The most frequent type of traffic accident in the U.S. happens when one motor vehicle runs into the back of another. Usually, these rear-end collisions occur because one driver is following too closely, is not paying attention to traffic or is driving too fast for conditions. Insurance companies will try anything to avoid paying these types of claims, but a Houston auto accident lawyer will help you get the settlement you deserve.
Whiplash is the most common injury associated with rear-end collisions. It happens when the sudden impact to the rear of the vehicle causes the driver’s body to lurch ahead while the head remains stationary. This makes the neck whip forward and hyperextend. Rear-end collisions can also cause serious back injuries due to the abrupt whipping motion. Whiplash is difficult to prove or disprove. In fact, the word itself has become synonymous with faked injuries and fraudulent insurance claims.
Most people believe that whiplash only occurs when vehicles are traveling at a high rate of speed. However, most cases of whiplash happen when the vehicles are moving at slower speeds. Whiplash is considered to be a minor affliction, but the damage to the soft tissue of the spine can have severe, long-lasting consequences. A neck injury might take several days to develop, and it can greatly impact your quality of life. You should see a doctor as soon as possible if you have been hit from the rear.
The most common symptoms of whiplash or back trauma include the following.
- Limited range of motion
- Blurry vision
- A tingling or burning feeling in the neck or back
- Stiffness and pain in the neck, back, shoulders or arms
Many people think that the tailing vehicle is always at fault when a rear-end collision occurs. That is simply not true. Liability is determined on a case-by-case basis.
The type of damage sustained by the vehicles can help prove how the accident happened. An experienced Houston personal injury attorney can use physical vehicle damage to establish who caused the accident.
Insurance companies will frequently dispute fault in rear-end collisions even if their case has no real merit. They do this for a few reasons.
1. The insurance companies hope to get people who do not completely understand their legal rights to accept a settlement that is far too low. If they can get an accident victim to admit to being partially at fault, they will only have to pay a portion of the damages.
2. They intend to delay the case with the hope that the statute of limitations will expire so that they will not have to pay. This tactic is used regularly against victims who do not have a Houston car accident lawyer who knows how long the statute of limitations is and who pays attention to time restrictions.
3. Insurance companies will dispute a rear-end collision case if the victim hires an attorney who is afraid to go to court. They are hoping the lawyer will give up and settle for damages that are insufficient.
Settling a Rear-End Collision Case
When a rear-end collision case does go to court, the amount of the settlement is based on the extent of general and special damages. Pain, suffering, physical discomfort and emotional trauma are general damages. Medical costs and lost income are special damages. After hearing the evidence, the judge or jury will decide who was at fault and the size of the settlement. People who retain lawyers usually receive three times as much as people who are not represented by an attorney, so it pays to hire a qualified lawyer.