Although a rear-end car accident is the most common type of crash, you should always take one seriously. Even if these types of accidents do not have the same fatality rate as other crashes, they can still leave you with long-lasting effects that can stay with you for years – or even the rest of your life.
Many people focus only on the fatality rates of certain types of crashes to gauge their seriousness. However, there is almost no such thing as a minor car accident. Any collision can injure you, even if it did not occur at high speeds.
If you sustained neck or back injuries in a rear-end collision, call a car accident lawyer near you to learn how taking legal action can help pay for your treatments and pain.
If you are in a rear-end crash, you face your own set of dangers. In a rear-end crash, you are either standing still or traveling at a much lower rate of speed than the car in front of you. Here, the physics of a rear-end car crash are what can cause you serious injury. You can still suffer significant injuries, even if your life was never in danger.
When a car traveling at a higher rate of speed hits you from behind, the force from that car transfers to yours. The problem is that your lower body is mostly still. The force will cause sudden and sharp movement in your upper body.
Here are some common neck and back injuries in a rear-end car accident:
Many rear-end car accident injuries fall under the classification of “whiplash.” This term describes the forward-and-back snapping of the head in a car accident, much like the edge of a snapping whip.
That whiplash is a common injury does not make it any less severe. In fact, up to half the people who suffer whiplash injuries will not make a full recovery. Many may suffer low-grade pain for an extended time. Others may suffer a permanent loss of their range of motion.
Even if you recover completely, you may struggle physically for that period of time. Many people require surgery and extensive rehabilitation to fully recover from whiplash.
If you have suffered whiplash injuries, do not assume you will automatically get better with time. Instead, you should pursue all the necessary medical treatment and continue your rehabilitation. At some point, you will reach the point of maximum medical improvement when you can file your claim for compensation.
Even if you already had a pre-existing neck or back condition, you may still recover financial compensation after the accident. The principle in a personal injury case is that “you take your victim as you find them.” This legal doctrine is also known as the “eggshell plaintiff” rule. If someone had a propensity for a certain injury, the responsible party must still pay based on the harm they caused to the individual plaintiff.
In other words, the responsible driver must pay when their actions aggravate a pre-existing condition. It does not matter that they did not know your condition beforfe hitting you. It is a chance that they take when they drive negligently.
You have some obligations of your own after a rear-end car accident. Although you may not know right away that you have suffered an injury, you must seek medical care as soon as you begin to experience symptoms. Not only is it the right thing to do for your health, but it also is a must for your legal situation.
In every personal injury case, you must do everything in your power to mitigate your own damages. You cannot take zero action for your own health and then expect full compensation from the insurance company. If there was something that you should have done but did not, the insurance company will hold that against you when it comes to settlement.
If you wait too long to get medical treatment, you run up against several risks:
If any type of force was involved in the car accident, you should see a doctor to check for potential injuries. Since back and neck injuries can grow worse over time, you are always better to be safe than sorry. While the damage may have already been done during the accident, seeing a doctor sooner can get you the treatment you need and minimize some of the pain and discomfort. At the very minimum, it will also take away an argument that the insurance company often uses to reduce settlements.
If you suffered an injury when struck in a rear-end car accident, proving liability is not as much of a concern for you. There is a presumption that the driver who struck you from behind is at fault for the accident. Unless that driver can meet a high burden of proof, they will need to pay for your accident injuries.
Your main fight is to get enough compensation that pays you for your injuries. That struggle is often far more difficult than the one you have in proving liability. Insurance companies are known to pinch pennies and do it at your expense.
Neck and back pain can be debilitating and keep you from living the life you did before the accident. They can leave you in constant pain and unable to fully work or enjoy the hobbies that you did before the accident. The combination of the physical discomfort and the emotional effects will take away from the quality of your life.
Neck and back injuries can be extremely costly, both in terms of the actual medical costs and the impact on your life. The costs of spinal surgery can run into hundreds of thousands of dollars, and that is just for the procedure alone. Surgery on a disc can cost tens of thousands of dollars. Given the complexity of back and neck surgeries, the surgeon can demand and receive a premium rate.
If your injury is serious enough to require surgery, you are still dealing with many other issues. The injury itself has likely left you in a considerable and constant amount of pain. In addition, the continuous discomfort may have taken away your enjoyment of your previous life. You may find that many previous hobbies are no longer practical in light of the steady pain and discomfort. The pain alone can make daily life difficult and cause mental health issues.
In addition, your neck and back injuries may leave you unable to work or do the work you previously did before the injury. If you have a physical job, the pain can severely limit what you can do at work. Even desk work can be more difficult because the pain leaves you unable to sit for a prolonged period and can keep you from focusing on your work.
Whiplash can cause psychological injury that is every bit as serious. Regardless of its intensity, the constant feeling of being in pain can cause both depression and anxiety. Sleeping at night may be extremely difficult, and insomnia can impact your mental health.
Insurance companies try to take advantage of the perception that whiplash or back injuries after an accident are common. They will try to apply an “objective” formula to your injuries or do anything they can to take you and your experience out of the picture. They do not want to hear what you have been living with and the constant pain you endure.
Usually, adjusters will calculate your pain and suffering from a lasting injury using a multiplier method. The insurance company will assign a multiplier to your economic damages, such as your medical bills, and use it to determine your pain and suffering damages. They will always choose a multiplier that is too low and does not reflect the full extent of your injuries.
Your personal injury settlement should compensate you for your own unique experience after the accident. Your neck or back injuries are not the same as some average and generic claimant. In some cases, they may be more severe. Based on the rules of personal injury compensation, it will entitle you to more money.
However, if you do not hire an experienced car accident attorney, you may receive minimal compensation for your injuries. You may not even know how much money you can get for your neck and back injuries. You can be certain that the insurance company knows what you deserve, and they are bound and determined not to pay it to you.
Your car accident attorney will review any settlement offer you receive to see how far it is below what you deserve. Just like the insurance company knows the value of your claim, so does your car accident lawyer. If a settlement offer does not fairly compensate you for the entire impact of your car accident injuries, your attorney should advise you to reject it. You can then counter with an offer of your own that more fairly reflects the true nature of your injuries.
Eventually, you and the insurance company will likely come to an agreement. If you cannot get on the same page financially, you can always file a lawsuit against the responsible driver, and the jury becomes the party that will award you damages.
Never assume your back or neck injury is too minor to result in an injury claim. If you have medical bills or any other injury-related expenses, you should discuss your options for compensation with a car accident attorney immediately.