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The most common Auto Accident claim is the rear-end collision. This post will show settlement values for different types of rear end collision.
But first, let us get a basic understanding of the rear end auto wreck and the injuries they cause.
Causes of Rear End Collisions
In 2016 alone, over 2 million people were injured in car crashes.1 Rear-end crashes are the most frequent type of collision, accounting for 29 percent of all crashes. These crashes cause a substantial amount of injuries and fatalities each year. 2 Rear-end collision in which the lead vehicle is stopped or moving very slowly prior the crash account for 81% of these crashes.3 And the reality is that many of these injuries could have been avoided had the drivers paid attention to their surroundings, followed the law and come to a complete stop at a stop sign, looked both ways before entering traffic, and yielding to oncoming traffic.?4 Rear-end collisions are often caused by drivers following too closely. Maintaining a large enough distance (the space between you and the vehicle in front of you) greatly helps avoid a collision with the vehicle in front of you.
Florida’s 2020 Driver’s Handbook states that following distance of a minimum of four seconds during favorable weather.5 Other times rear-end collisions are simply caused by distracted drivers.
A leading study found that drivers are routinely engaged in activities that diver their attention from the forward roadway. Such as:
- Scanning mirrors
- Eating food
- Talking on cellphones
- Looking down in the cab near the center console area.
- Long glances away from the roadway 6
Surprisingly, male 25-34-year-old are almost twice as likely to be involved in rear-end crashed then other age groups. Males in general are slightly more likely to rear end another diver than women. 3
Types of Injuries in Rear End Auto Wrecks
The most common injuries in a rear end collision involve the neck or the brain. 90% of injuries in rear end crashes are neck injuries. 7 This stems from a movement commonly called whiplash.
Whiplash is a relative motion between the head and the body that occurs in automobile collisions. The rapid speeding up or slowing down of the head causes the neck (cervical spine) to extend and flex in ways it was never meant to extend and flex.8 Whiplash causes dislocated discs, ton ligaments, disc bulging, disc herniation and other neck injury.3 A herniated disc or bulge can irritate nerves or the spinal cord and cause pain and other injuries.7
Neck injuries can and do occur at lower speed impacts. In fact, traffic accident data in Germany reveals that 90% of whiplash injuries result from rear impacts at speeds of less than 15 miles per hour! 9
Neck Ligament Injuries
Ligaments are strong bands of tissue that hold bones together. You have ligaments that run on either side of your neck. They keep everything tight and in place.
In rear end accidents these ligaments can get stretched out causing permanent injury. Over time the space between the disc widen and the discs are more susceptible to injury like herniation.
Also called a slipped disc, a herniated disc happens when the material surrounds the soft inner core of the disc tears and a portion of the disc leaks out.
Think of it like a Jelly donut. If you squeeze a jelly donut, the donut will rip and some of the jelly will leak out.
A herniated disc can cause pain when the disc puts pressure on nerves. Over time, the disc will dry out and become brittle making you more likely to be in pain.
Cervical discs can cause pain in the neck, shoulders and arms. We call this radiating pain radiculopathy.
Less common, a cervical disc can put pressure on the spinal cord. This can cause issues with walking and even bladder control. We call this sort of pain myelopathy.
Rear end collisions can cause neck herniations as well as lower back herniations. Lower back injuries are especially common when the injured person is turned or seated in an awkward way.
Your brain is fragile. Traumatic brain Injury (TBI) is often called the “silent epidemic” because complications from TBI, such as changes affecting thinking, sensation, or emotions, may not be readily apparent.10 Motor vehicle wrecks are the second leading cause of TBI and are the leading cause of TBI-related deaths.
Brain injuries in a rear end wreck can occur when the brain strikes a hard object such as the steering wheel or the dashboard. But they can also occur from a sever enough whip lash. We call this coup counter coup, when the brain slams into the skull with sufficient force to cause injury.
Now, let’s get into the actual settlement amounts.
Specific Rear End Auto Accident Settlement Examples
$35,000.00 Settlement for Rear End Collision
This is a USAA auto accident injury claim.
My client was driving his truck on County road in Pasco County, Florida. A careless driver crashed into the back of my client’s truck. Police came on scene and issued the other driver a ticket for careless driving.
Our client was a young man who shortly began to suffer from headaches and upper back pain. He clearly had a whiplash injury.
The property damages were minor. Total cost for repairs was only $1,329. While injuries can occur in rear enders even at minor speeds, insurance companies do consider the damage to the vehicle when determining case value.
He went to a chiropractor at a local clinic in New Port Richey. All told he had 19 visits to the chiropractor.
His chiropractor did send him to get MRI’s of his neck. The MRI’s revealed he had herniated discs at C5-C6 and ad C4-C5.
It was more likely than not his herniated discs were either caused or aggravated by the motor vehicle wreck.
Luckily, my client healed very well from the wreck. Over time his headaches and back pain went away. But he was a young man with a great story (he became a firefighter during the beginning of the Covid pandemic!). There was $35,000 in total coverage. State Farm was the insurance carrier for the negligent driver. He had $10,000.00 in coverage. Our client had progressive uninsured motorist insurance in the amount of $25,000.00.
We believed that given the circumstances the case was worth the $35,000.00 in coverage.
This cause also illustrates why you should never be concerned with a poor initial offer from the insurance company.
In this case, the first count-offer from the insurance company was $3,500.00. The final settlement amount was 10X the insurance companies first counter.
Instead, work with your car accident attorney to determine the true just value for your case. Then, do not settle until you get the full value!
What’s more, this case shows that a victim of a car accident read end collision can get much more than just the medical bills in the case.
That’s because when we can prove a permanent injury to our client, we can also recover money for non-economic damages like pain, suffering, and the loss of enjoyment of life. Here, approximately 95% of the client’s settlement value was for non-economic damages.
We didn’t just get his bills paid or take the money in attorney fees. We were able to write him a solid check for a little more than $22,000 as fair value for his bad experience. That check was non-taxable by the US government, so the client was able to keep it all.
$35,000 Rear End Settlement (Above the Policy Limits)
My client was rear ended by another driver who was insured by USAA. The damage to another vehicle is shown below.
My client was looking behind him and saw the impact happen. The wreck injured his lower back.
Over the next few months, my client went to physical therapists and chiropractors for help with his lower back. Often called “conservative care”, this is involved strengthening muscles, stretching, pain relief therapy, and chiropractic adjustments.
Unfortunately, the chiropractic treatment did not fix my client’s pain. He visited a pain management doctor who recommended injections in his lower back. The injections helped with the pain but did not fix the pain.
At the beginning of a case we send letters of representation to the insurance company for the bad driver. We did that here. The insurance company stated that there was $10,000 in coverage and that no other coverage applied.
We sent a demand letter to USAA asking that they tender the policy limits. See below:
Of course, the insurance company did not tender the $10,000 even though they should have done so. So, we filed a lawsuit. During the lawsuit we discovered there was an additional $10,000.00 in coverage the insurance company had hit from us!
Still we believed the case was worth more than the $10,000.00. We believed it was work in the $35,000.00 range. And we knew how to get that from the insurance company.
See, insurance companies have a duty to negotiate in good faith. They did not do that here. They did not tender the policy when we gave them the opportunity. We believed they had operated in bad faith with the driver who rear-ended our client. When an insurance company acts in bad faith, they can be held liable for damages above the policy.
We demanded $35,000 for our client’s bodily injury in his lower back due to the rear ending. We also demanded $6,000.00 for the diminished value to our client’s vehicle. USAA accepted our demand.
Two things are great about this rear-end settlement amount. This first is that most of the settlement value is for pain and suffering. The amount of the settlement that went to my client’s medical bills is small.
That means even after attorney fees my client had a sizable amount of money to put in his pocket.
The other thing is that most personal injury attorneys do not realize that sometimes we can collect more than the policy limits from the insurance company. In this case we collected almost double what the available policy limits were.
We could get full justice for our client. Consider that USAA originally made us think that the total amount of money available was $10,000. That would be the total amount for the client’s pain and suffering, his medical bills, and for attorney fees.
Instead, we were able to right a check to our client for just a little less than $17,000!
$450,000 Settlement For Lower Back Surgery For Client Against USAA in Rear Ender
This is a case we co-counseled with another lawyer. Sometimes, we will bring in another lawyer with a specific specialty to help us with a case. This was one of those cases.
A bad driver crashed into our client’s car. The bad driver was a young woman. Our client was a in his 80’s. The police arrived. On scene, the young woman stated that our client had caused the crash by breaking too quickly.
Unlucky for the young lady, our client had cameras he had rigged up to the back of his vehicle! A review of the video on scene showed it was the young lady who was at-fault. Her attention was distracted, and she did not break until it was too late.
Our client had uninsured motorist coverage (UM) with USAA. He had $1,000,000 in coverage. The young lady did not have bodily injury insurance. We demanded the policy limits. USAA counter-offered with $5,000.00.
We filed suit.
The client tried conservative care and lower back injections. Nothing worked. Finally, he had lower back surgery.
Surgery greatly increases the value of a case for obvious reasons.
We set the case for trial. We got a speedy trial date. Florida law allows a Plaintiff in a rear end accident to demand a fast trial date if he or she is older than 65.
USAA did not want to try this case. The jury would have loved our client! USAA ultimately settled the case for $450,000.00.
This case truly illustrates why you should NEVER care about a first counteroffer from the insurance company! In our case USAA ultimately paid 90X the first counteroffer.
Of course, we had to file the case and get right up to trial in order to get full justice for our client.
It is also worth noting we had a truly exceptional client. A former high-ranking military pilot, he would have had a Jury eating out of his hands. USAA had to figure that in when deciding to pay.
$100,000 Settlement When Client is Rear-ended at Low Speed
Our client was driving her 2000 Honda. Her daughter was in the passenger seat next to her. Our client was rear ended by a bad driver.
Interestingly, the impact was very minor. The total property damage to our client’s Honda was less than $500.00. So, while liability was clear, travelers decided to fight the claim tooth and nail simply because the property damage was minor.
This is a common practice with insurance companies. They often believe that our car accident clients simply cannot get hurt in low speed collisions. They will hire all sorts of experts to present junk science to try to prove the case. But as outlined above, it is simply not true. And in the case, our client was hurt.
Our client had pre-existing neck injury. The impact aggravated the injury. She had injections and extensive chiropractic, but she still lived in pain.
The insurance company initially offered $1,500 for our client’s claim. The insane low-ball offer prompted us to immediately file a case in Court.
We went deep into litigation. Right before trial the insurance company deposed our client for a second time. While we do not usually ask questions of our client in depositions, this time we did. We helped our client tell her story of how she needed help with bathing and putting on her bra from her boyfriend. How she was afraid her boyfriend might leave her.
This put the pressure on the insurance company. They paid the policy limits of $100,000.00 right before trial.
The important lesson from this example is that insurance companies will always discount cases without a lot of visible property damage to the vehicles. If you’re injured in a rear fender without a lot of property damage to your vehicle you need to be willing to go into litigation or even go to trial to get a fair shake.
But if you are willing to do that, you can get a settlement claim value that is fair and just.
- See NHTSA Data Statistic for 2016.
- See NHTSA Rea End Executive Summary https://www.nhtsa.gov/sites/nhtsa.dot.gov/files/analyses20of20rear-end20crashes20and20near-crashes20dot20hs2081020846.pdf.
- See above.
- See, e.g. Florida Driver Handbook: https://www3.flhsmv.gov/handbooks/englishdriverhandbook.pdf.
- See Florida Driver Handbook, “Safe Following Distances”, p. 32.
- See NHTSA Rear End Executive Summary, page 25.
- A review of neck injury and protection in vehicle accidents https://academic.oup.com/tse/article/1/2/89/5618803.
- See kinematics of a head-Neck Model Simulating Whiplash , http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.914.8217&rep=rep1&type=pdf.
- Influence of seat characteristics on occupant motion in low-speed rear impacts. Accident Anal Prev 2000; 32:243-50.
- See NHTSA Biomechanics and Trauma https://www.nhtsa.gov/research-data/biomechanics-trauma#brain-injury-9956.