- Georgia is a comparative fault state, which means that each driver’s percentage of fault determines how much compensation they can obtain.
- While the rear driver is typically at fault in a rear-end accident, there are instances when the lead driver could be to blame.
- Insurance companies may send you a check before you understand the full value of your rear-end accident case. Cashing this check could prevent you from seeking additional compensation in the future.
- A personal injury attorney can help you understand the value of your case and ensure you receive a full and fair settlement.
Rear-end accidents are among the most common accidents that we see today. The sheer number of drivers on the roads and the fact that drivers are more distracted than ever by cell phones and other electronic devices means rear-end accidents in Georgia and nationwide are, unfortunately, inevitable.
While rear-end accidents are usually thought of as simple fender benders, these accidents can sometimes cause serious injuries.
When an injured party makes a claim against the at-fault driver’s insurance company, they are often met with some resistance. An insurance company’s main focus is its bottom line. As such, they will do everything in their power to minimize the payout they must make for claims.
Oftentimes, insurance companies will downplay the severity of accidents, especially rear-end accidents, that result in legal claims to avoid paying more. Insurance companies view injury claims as a battle for how much money they should give you, the injured party.
Here’s what you should know if you’ve been injured in a rear-end accident.
Determining Who Is the Negligent, At-Fault Driver: The General Rule
In some states, it doesn’t matter who caused the accident when dealing with injury claims. These states are known as “no-fault” states.
In a no-fault state, if a driver is involved in an accident and is seeking compensation for their injuries, they simply make a claim with their own insurance company to seek coverage. The state of Georgia does not operate this way and instead follows the legal doctrine of “comparative fault.”
In a comparative fault state, fault matters when determining liability and insurance coverage. While it is generally assumed that the rear driver is the negligent one in a rear-end accident, this isn’t always the case. Sometimes, the lead driver can also be held liable if their conduct and actions on the road contributed to the accident.
If multiple drivers share fault, then the percentage of how much they were at fault will be considered when determining compensation.
When the Lead Driver Is Considered At-Fault
There are a number of scenarios where the lead driver in a rear-end accident can be considered at-fault.
Some examples include when the lead driver:
- Makes an unsafe turn into a lane
- Makes an unsafe lane change (cutting off another driver)
- Brakes suddenly without reason
- Has non-functioning brake lights
- Is under the influence of drugs or alcohol (DUI)
- Intentionally tried to cause an accident
These are just some scenarios where the lead driver can be assessed fault for their dangerous driving.
Incident reports from responding police and medical professionals can help determine if there is reason to believe that the lead driver was at-fault in the rear-end accident.
Using a Police Report to Determine Fault
Responding police will often provide an assessment for who is at-fault in an accident in their police report. A police report is written based on information responding officers were given by the drivers involved, and any witnesses who saw the accident take place.
The police officers’ determination of fault, however, is not the permanent nor final judgment. Personal injury attorneys can investigate the accident and prove to a court or insurance company that their client was not the responsible party.
Because Georgia is a comparative fault state, more fault can be assessed to the other driver if it is proven in court. Proving fault can be complicated, but accurately determining fault can mean the difference of thousands of dollars in compensation.
Evidence That Is Used to Prove Negligence in a Rear-end Accident
The most important factor in any case when trying to prove negligence is evidence. The more evidence you have to back up your claim, the better chance you have in proving the other driver’s negligence.
Examples of crucial evidence in a rear-end accident case include:
- Photos of the vehicles involved in the accident
- Witness statements and testimony
- Cell phone records to prove if the other driver was talking or texting while driving
- Video evidence from near-by traffic, security, or dash cameras
It is important to obtain the evidence both in your favor and against you, so that you can properly prepare and litigate a rear-end accident claim. Knowing all of the available evidence will also help you make the best choices when making your claim.
Georgia’s Driving Laws That Influence Rear-end Collision Legal Claims
There are a number of rules on the road that can influence your potential recovery and fault determination in a rear-end accident case.
If either driver was breaking driving laws at the time of the accident, it could impact fault. Here are a few examples:
- Text messaging or talking on the phone while driving
- Driving under the influence (DUI)
- Swerving or cutting off other drivers
- Unsafe driving due to weather conditions
- Tailgating, following too closely
- Overtaking, passing and leaving space
Any violation of Georgia law while driving can influence and determine the outcome of a rear-end collision claim.
Ignorance of the law is not a defense. As a licensed driver, you are expected to know the rules of the road and adhere to them when behind the wheel.
Common Injuries from Rear-end Accidents
Rear-end collisions can result in injuries on all ends of the spectrum—from minor to extremely severe or life-altering.
The following are common injuries that result from rear-end collisions:
- Airbag injuries
- Traumatic brain injuries (TBI)
If you’ve suffered injuries in a rear-end accident, it is important to compile all documentation detailing the extent of your injuries and any necessary medical treatment or care. Presenting a complete claim is paramount to getting the highest compensation possible.
The “Real” Cost of a Rear-end Accident
Insurance companies usually view rear-end accidents as minor and will often try to resolve them quickly. Sometimes, insurance companies attempt to do this by promptly sending you a check to “cover your expenses.” But be aware, the amounts these checks include often ignore many important expenses.
The “real” cost of a rear-end accident is often quite higher than an insurance company is ready to pay in the beginning. It is important to note that cashing an insurance company check will often preclude you from seeking any additional compensation.
Insurance companies do their best to pay as little as possible. Be sure that any compensation you receive in a rear-end accident considers payment for things such as:
- Pain and suffering
- Significant life changes
- All medical costs, past and future
- Lost income
- Loss of ability to earn future income
- Vehicle repair expenses
- Car rental expenses
If you receive a check from an insurance company offering to pay for your claim, consider contacting an experienced personal injury attorney who can help you determine if cashing that check is a good idea.
How a Personal Injury Attorney Can Help
An experienced personal injury attorney can help you fully understand your legal options when dealing with a rear-end accident case.
A personal injury attorney has the experience to deal with the tricky tactics of insurance companies, collect evidence to prove a case, and determine full and fair compensation that considers all the expenses that should be considered after an accident leaves you with injuries.
Call The Millar Law Firm today at (770) 400-0000 or contact us online to set up a free consultation with one of our attorneys.