• Brad Keating

Average Settlement for Rear-end Car Accident Victims - What One Needs to Know

Updated: Feb 23

After being in a rear-end collision car accident, it's important to determine if the victim should get a collision settlement. If so, it's crucial to know what to do next. It might be hard to determine who the at-fault party was and what the average settlement value is for personal injuries like this. It's not always cut and dry to determine the value for a rear-end collision, so it's best to learn as much as possible about the settlement process. Consider requesting a free consultation from the lawyers at the Keating Law Firm if the personal injury protection from the car insurance company isn't enough.


What Causes Rear-end Collisions?

What Causes Rear-end Collisions?


The most common causes of rear-end collisions include the rear car driving too close to the lead driver, but distractions are also possible. The driver might have adjusted the radio, talked to other passengers, or been on a cell phone. With that, speed plays a role because it takes longer to stop when the vehicle is moving fast.


What to Do After the Rear-end Collision


After the crash, there are vital steps to take immediately to ensure a decent rear-end accident settlement:

  • Check for Injuries - A low-speed rear-end collision could cause many injuries, such as facial lacerations, broken bones, soft-tissue damage, and whiplash. It's important to go to the hospital for a check-up, even if the victim is unhurt. Minor soreness immediately after the crash can turn into severe injuries after just a few days. Therefore, it's always safer to get an examination from a healthcare professional. Don't worry about the medical expenses right now. The victim is more likely to get compensation for the injuries because they were documented by a medical professional.

  • Document the Property Damage - Make sure to take pictures of the vehicle and the rear vehicle. Take photographs of the road conditions and use the wide-angle setting to show the car positions on the road before they're moved.

  • Get the Police Report - Whether the incident was severe or minor, the lawsuit or claim benefits from having a police report copy. The negligent driver was probably listed in the police report as using distracted driving techniques or other factors.

  • Contact the Insurance Company - It's crucial to give the insurance company the information necessary. If the victim was rear-ended by a commercial truck or semi-truck, get their commercial vehicle insurance.


Who's at Fault for a Rear-end Accident?


To determine who's at fault, federal and state laws, as well as insurance companies, often always favor the driver who was hit from the rear. Therefore, many rear-end crashes get blamed on the rear driver. That's because driving rules claim it's the responsibility of each driver to follow the car in front from a safe distance. That means the driver must slow and stop with plenty of time to avoid hitting other vehicles and objects.


This applies whether the car in front could slow or stop. However, several factors might reduce the liability of a rear driver in a rear-end accident:

  • Unfavorable road conditions

  • Poor visibility because of weather conditions

  • Broken or missing stop signs/lights

  • Unsafe and unmarked work areas

Another factor used to determine fault for rear-end collisions is identifying what laws were broken. For instance, if the car makes the left turn into traffic at a red light and is struck from the back by a right-of-way car, the rear car might not be fully at fault. Illinois is an at-fault state, so if the fault lies at 50 percent or more for the front car, that driver cannot receive compensation.


What Factors Might Determine the Settlement Amount


Economic Damages

Economic damages are the easiest to calculate for rear-end accidents. These are things that end up having a direct financial impact on the victim. Common examples include:

  • Health insurance payments and deductibles

  • Cost of damages to personal property and vehicles

  • Loss of income from missed workdays

  • Funeral expenses

  • Late fees and penalties for missed bills

  • Estimates of future expenses because of injuries

The attorney should work with the victim's doctor to make sure that the documents are provided. Those who haven't hired a legal professional should safely store and save their invoices, receipts, medical records, and any other documentation related to the auto accident.


Non-economic Damages

Non-economic damages are often called pain and suffering, which are harder to estimate. The most common method is to add the economic damages, multiplying that by a number from one to five. If the damages are more severe, a higher multiplier is used. Here are some other factors that could lead to higher payments for a rear-end accident:

  • Loss of a loved one

  • Gross negligence from the driver, the manufacturer, the company that hired them, and the insurance company

  • Development of PTSD and other psychological problems

  • Development of life-changing, permanent disabilities

  • Dash-cam footage or witness statements that help determine fault

Normally, available insurance policy limits don't pertain to this part. Whether the victim has health insurance or not, the non-economic damages settlement for a rear-end accident focuses more on the cost related to it and how much income a person has.


Typical Factors for Determining Fault in a Rear-end Collision Settlement


Typically, rear-end collision settlement damages vary from no injuries and minor damage to serious personal injuries and a totaled vehicle. Things like head injuries, back and neck injuries, whiplash, brain injuries, and lacerations might be possible. Many factors determine how much money rear-end accident cases are worth, such as:

  • Severity of injuries

  • Types of injuries sustained

  • Long-term effects of the injuries

  • Injuries affect daily living routines and the ability to work

  • Damage occurring to personal property

  • Pain and suffering along with physical injuries

  • Medical expenses incurred directly because of the car accident

  • Who was at fault

  • Seatbelt usage

There's no precise calculation that determines how much a victim gets for their rear-end accident case. It's best to contact a personal injury attorney to understand what settlements and judgments are available, such as medical bills and the like. Here is a closer look that determines compensation levels:


Liability as a Factor for the Settlement


Liability for a rear-end collision is often straightforward. Many times, the rear car is to blame for the accident. If that's the case, there's a good chance of receiving compensation.

However, the front driver might be partially at fault in some cases. That may affect the compensation received from the injuries. They include:

  • Suddenly reversing

  • Braking checking the rear driver by slamming the brakes on for no apparent reason

  • Driving with mechanical problems or a flat tire

  • Failing to repair broken brake lights

  • Driving distracted and slamming the brakes on too late

Unless an accident involves one of these scenarios, the tailing driver is likely liable.


Property Damage

What does it cost to fix the vehicle? Sometimes, the damage is obvious, such as with a crushed bumper. However, things not visible from the outside might still hurt the frame. Therefore, it's best to have the vehicle checked by a mechanic after a rear-end crash. Consider any other property damage to what's inside the car, such as car seats. It doesn't matter why the rear-end accident happened; if the damage was done, this should be compensated for.


Medical Bills and Related Expenses

A car accident could cause the victim to incur many costs related to medical treatment. The at-fault driver or the insurance company might be responsible for covering these medical bills:

  • Prescription drugs

  • Ambulance ride

  • Hospital stay

  • Physical therapy

  • Doctor visits

  • Physical/mental pain/suffering

That might not be the only medical bills the victim has.


Lost Income

Lost wages are a crucial factor for considering the damages awarded for a rear-end accident. How long was the victim unable to work, and how much can they work in the future? The lost income level varies based on what work the person does and how their car accident affected it.


For example, a waitress who broke her leg may have higher lost wages than one who works at a desk with the same injury.


The crash's violence also determines the multiplier to calculate total damages. If a collision is more severe, a bigger multiplier is used. If someone was rear-ended and can't work for a year, the financial loss is higher, and the multiplier is bigger.


The amount received after being rear-ended varies. Overall, the idea is to get the victim whole again. That means that any compensation received should be high enough to put the victim where they were before the incident. What that amount is depends on pain and suffering, time missed from work, medical bills, property damage, and other things. For example, a motorcycle rear-end crash often results in serious injuries and gets a larger settlement.


Possible Injuries Sustained from the Rear-end Collision


Here are the most common injury options possible for rear-end car accidents:

  • Whiplash - This is the most common injury from rear-end collisions. It happens when the head gets rapidly jerked backward and forward. That could result in stiffness and neck pain.

  • Broken and fractured bones - It's common for a rear-ended driver to break their arms or wrists because they're holding the steering wheel at impact. Broken ribs and legs are also possible.

  • Back, spinal cord, and neck injuries - At low speeds, any impact can affect the spine. Abdominal and spinal injuries are quite common. Often physical therapy is necessary for these injuries.

  • Head or brain injury - Broken facial bones and concussions might occur if the head strikes the car. Brain injuries also happen from the head's sudden movement. They often have severe pain with them.

  • Soft-tissue injuries - This type of injury affects the tendons, ligaments, and muscles. It happens when the body is jolted by an impact and can lead to contusions and sprains.

  • Airbag and seat belt injuries - While airbags and seat belts are designed to save lives, they can still inflict damage. Seat belts might cause lacerations and bruises to the neck and torso. The airbag could cause breaks to the face, contusions, and burns.

  • Death - Wrongful death cases mean that the passenger or driver was killed because of the rear-end collision.

The Process for Settling a Rear-end Car Accident


The first step to getting compensation for a rear-end car accident settlement is to file a car accident claim with the insurance company of the at-fault driver. It may have to be litigated in court, but almost all rear-end collision settlements settle out of court. In fact, court is expensive and might take years to settle.


Filing lawsuits and going to court is often unnecessary because negligence is often clear.

Most of these crashes are compensated and resolved without a lawsuit being filed as part of the settlement. That happens early in the negotiations. It generally means:

  • The victim had no pre-existing injuries that were made worse by the accident.

  • Accident injuries were minor and aren't likely to get worse over time.

  • The driver who hit the front driver was completely at fault.

  • The at-fault driver had car insurance at the moment of the crash.

In these cases, there's not much to argue. That's clear within the first month or so, allowing the settlement negotiations to go through.


What to Expect from a Health Insurance Company


Often, the insurance company of the at-fault driver makes the rear-end collision settlement proposal to the injured party. The initial offer might be inadequate, so it's best to negotiate with a lawyer by proving how much the damages are.


If the accident includes many medical bills or pain and suffering, it's wise to talk to a car accident attorney. They can help with the investigation process to collect the details and review everything. Then, they might file a lawsuit on the victim's behalf against the at-fault driver or insurance company, depending on how much bodily injury liability coverage they had.


Overall, a car accident lawyer can help the victim get the compensation they deserve.


How Long Before Compensation Is Rendered


After reaching an agreement in rear-end collision cases, most victims wonder how long it might take to get their compensation. They often take 30 to 90 days for minor crashes/damages. However, it might take years to reach a settlement if the case goes to court.


Once the victim signs the release, the attorney returns the signed copy to the at-fault party's insurance adjuster. It's reviewed, and then a check is sent to the lawyer within a few weeks. After they take their fee, the victim receives it within about two to six weeks.


What Might Determine Final Settlement Compensation

What Might Determine Final Settlement Compensation


Car accidents are never the same, so it's often hard to say how much compensation a victim can get. Various factors contribute to the settlement value the victim is awarded for a rear-end collision. The payout ranges from thousands of dollars to a million dollars. Here are the factors that might affect compensation for a rear-end collision:

  • Vehicles - If the rear-ended vehicle was much smaller than the other one, this might cause more damages. Semi-truck settlements where the truck driver rear-ends a small car are one extreme example.

  • Negligence - If a rear-end collision resulted from negligence and led to injuries and damages, the court often awards higher damages.

  • Parties - If a company is liable, the judge might dish out harsher punishments. Often, they involve gross negligence.

  • Speed - Small vehicles can still cause serious damage to big ones if the driver was speeding. This might be tied to negligence, increasing the payouts.

  • Injuries - A higher payout can be expected if a person's injuries are more severe. For instance, you can get the average settlement for a shoulder injury due to a car accident.

Therefore, the victim might not need to worry about the average rear-end settlement value because theirs is likely to be higher.


Hire a Lawyer


Regardless of when or where the collision occurred, rear-end accidents can do serious damage to the victim and vehicle—sometimes even requiring the jaws of life to help rescue victims of the car accident. It's best to contact a personal injury lawyer before dealing with insurance claims alone. Often, insurance companies low-ball the offer so that they don't have to dish out a higher personal injury settlement.


The goal is to get a fair settlement for the personal injury case. Call the Keating Law Firm to get a free consultation and learn about the average settlement estimate. The Nashville auto accident lawyers here also help with workers' compensation benefits and many other situations.


Overall, getting a rear-end car accident settlement isn't as easy as one might think. Often, the victim suffers multiple injuries and other expenses that were directly caused by the other driver. Therefore, if a truck rear-ends a car, it's crucial to get the highest settlement agreement possible. Generally, a lawyer is the only way to do that. Since insurance adjusters tend to provide low accident settlement amounts that aren't enough, talking to an attorney is a good idea.