Rear-end collisions are among the most common types of car accidents that occur on Florida roads and highways. These accidents can cause significant physical injuries, emotional trauma and financial burdens for the victims involved.
If you’ve been injured in a rear-end collision, it’s crucial to understand your rights and seek the guidance of an experienced Florida car accident attorney who specializes in these types of cases.
At Redondo Law, Miami personal injury attorney Mike Redondo spent the early years of his career representing insurance companies to limit their liability in personal injury lawsuits. Now, he uses that experience to maximize settlement awards and judgments for accident victims like you.
Rear-end collision statistics
According to the National Safety Council, rear-end collisions made up almost 42% of motor vehicle accidents in the U.S. in 2021, translating into over 3.8 million accidents. These accidents were also responsible for 2,900 fatalities that year or about 18.5%.
What are the most common causes of rear-end crashes?
Some of the most common causes of rear-end crashes include the following:
- Tailgating. Following the vehicle in front too closely, also known as tailgating, is a leading cause of rear-end collisions. When drivers don’t maintain a safe distance, they have less time to react to sudden changes in traffic, such as the leading vehicle braking.
- Distracted driving. Engaging in activities that divert attention from the road, such as texting, talking on the phone, eating or using in-car technologies, can prevent drivers from responding in time to the leading vehicle’s actions.
- Speeding. Driving at an excessive speed reduces the time available to stop or maneuver safely, making rear-end crashes more likely, especially in congested traffic or sudden slowdowns.
- Sudden stops. When the leading vehicle makes an unexpected or sudden stop, the following driver may be caught off guard and unable to brake in time to avoid a collision.
- Intoxication. Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs significantly impairs judgment, coordination and reaction time, increasing the risk of rear-end crashes and other accidents.
- Poor weather conditions. Reduced visibility, slippery roads and longer stopping distances due to rain, snow, fog or ice can contribute to rear-end collisions if drivers fail to adjust their driving behavior accordingly.
- Vehicle malfunctions. Mechanical failures, such as faulty brakes or worn tires, can impair a driver’s ability to stop in time to avoid a rear-end crash.
- Aggressive driving. Reckless behaviors like aggressive tailgating, sudden lane changes or speeding can escalate the likelihood of rear-end collisions. Aggressive drivers are more likely to take unnecessary risks and disregard traffic rules.
- Failure to yield the right-of-way. When drivers fail to yield the right-of-way at intersections or when merging into traffic, it can result in rear-end crashes, particularly if the following driver is unable to anticipate or react to the sudden change.
Common injuries in rear-end collisions
Rear-end collisions can lead to various types of injuries, ranging from minor to catastrophic, depending on factors such as the speed of the vehicles involved, the position of the occupants, the use of seat belts and the presence of safety features.
Below are some of the most common injuries associated with rear-end collisions:
- Whiplash. Whiplash is a soft tissue injury that occurs when the head and neck are jerked forward and then rapidly backward during the collision. It can result in neck pain, stiffness, headaches and restricted range of motion.
- Back and spinal cord injuries. Rear-end collisions can cause spinal cord injuries, including sprains, strains or herniated discs in the spine. These injuries may lead to back pain, reduced mobility and, in severe cases, nerve damage or paralysis.
- Head and brain injuries. The sudden impact of a rear-end collision can cause head injuries, including concussions, contusions or traumatic brain injuries (TBIs). These injuries can range from mild to severe, resulting in headaches, dizziness, cognitive impairments, memory loss or even long-term disabilities.
- Facial injuries. Facial injuries can occur when the face strikes the steering wheel, dashboard or airbag. They may include fractures, lacerations, bruising or dental injuries.
- Chest and rib injuries. The force of a rear-end collision can cause injuries to the chest, including bruised or broken ribs, sternum fractures or injuries to internal organs like the heart or lungs. Airbag deployment can also contribute to chest injuries.
- Arm and wrist injuries. When drivers or passengers brace themselves for impact, their arms and wrists can sustain injuries. These injuries may include fractures, sprains or strains.
- Leg and knee injuries. The lower extremities can be injured when the impact forces the legs against the dashboard or other parts of the vehicle. Fractures, knee injuries (such as ligament tears) and soft tissue injuries can occur.
- Psychological trauma. In addition to physical injuries, rear-end collisions can cause psychological trauma, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, depression or emotional distress, which may require appropriate support and treatment.
- Death. If a victim sustains severe injuries in a rear-end accident that lead to death, the at-fault driver may be held liable through a wrongful death lawsuit.
Seeking immediate medical attention following a rear-end collision is essential, as some injuries may not be immediately apparent and can worsen if left untreated.
Who usually gets hurt worse in a rear-end accident?
The person driving the car in front, or the one rear-ended, usually gets hurt the worst. Even in a low-speed accident, the heaviness of a vehicle can cause a driver to sustain significant injuries to their ligaments, tissues and discs.
In a rear-end accident, the driver is often caught off-guard and does not have time to brace themselves for the impact, which results in more severe injuries, including whiplash. The driver who causes a rear-end collision usually sees it coming and braces their muscles, which protects the more vulnerable ligaments and other tissues underneath. Muscular injuries also tend to heal more quickly in the rear driver.
What are Florida’s minimum car insurance requirements?
Florida requires 2 kinds of car insurance coverage:
- Personal injury protection (PIP). PIP insurance compensates for medical expenses and wages the driver and passengers lose due to their inability to work due to injuries. Florida drivers must carry a minimum of $10,000 PIP coverage.
- Property damage liability (PDL). PDL coverage provides compensation for property damage. Florida requires a minimum of $10,000 in PDL coverage, which covers damage to someone else’s vehicle or other personal property damaged in an accident you caused.
Florida’s coverage amounts represent the state’s minimum requirements. The actual costs from a serious accident can easily exceed these minimums, and you can purchase higher levels of coverage from your insurer.
Can I sue the other driver after a car accident in Florida?
In Florida, you can sue after being involved in a car accident if you were injured due to another party’s negligence. Depending on the circumstances of the accident, you can pursue a legal claim to compensate you for both economic and non-economic damages from the accident.
Compensable damages in Florida include the following:
- Medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Property damage
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Loss of companionship
You can also sue for future damages, such as lost future work income if your injuries from the accident prevent you from being able to earn a living.
Who is usually at fault in a rear-end accident?
In a rear-end accident, the driver who rear-ends the other car is typically presumed responsible. This is because the rear-end driver is responsible for maintaining a safe following distance, which they have failed to do if they collide with the vehicle in front of them.
When might the rear-end driver not be at fault?
The rear-end driver may not always be at fault in a collision, especially if the lead driver stops suddenly to scare the driver behind them, as in a brake-check accident. In this case, the lead driver may be considered at fault.
Additionally, if the driver in front does not have working tail lights or suddenly swerves in front of your car, you might rear-end them because you don’t have time to react, and they would be considered at least partially at fault.
How does Florida’s comparative negligence rule impact the amount of compensation I can receive?
Florida has a standard of comparative negligence, which means that if a judge determines that both parties are at fault in a rear-end accident, they will assign each driver a percentage of the liability for the accident.
If a judge finds you were partially at fault for a rear-end accident, you would receive a percentage of the full compensation you might have received if the other driver was determined to be 100% at fault for the accident.
For example, if you would have been awarded $150,000 in damages, and a judge determines you were 15% at fault, you would receive 85% of the damages you requested or $127,500.
What’s the average payout for a rear-end collision in Florida, and what factors affect the settlement amount?
In Florida, the average payout for a rear-end accident depends on several factors, including the accident’s severity and the extent of any injuries. It also depends on the insurance coverage carried by each driver.
Due to the complexities and various factors involved, there is no meaningful average payout amount.
However, settlement amounts in Florida for less-severe accidents can vary from a few thousand dollars in a minor fender-bender to $60,000 or more. While a payout could range from a few hundred thousand dollars to millions for serious accidents involving life-threatening injuries or fatalities.
What are my legal options if the other party has no insurance?
If you’re involved in a car crash with an uninsured driver, you still have a few options to seek compensation. In Florida, your required PIP coverage will cover up to $10,000 in damages if you report the accident to your insurer within 14 days.
Your insurer cannot legally raise your rates if the accident was not your fault. You might also get covered if you paid for optional uninsured motorist coverage. Otherwise, you can pursue legal action against the uninsured driver through a personal injury lawsuit to get compensated for your damages if they exceed the $10,000 that PIP covers.
What steps should I take after a rear-end collision?
If you find yourself involved in a rear-end collision, take the following steps to ensure that you protect yourself and get the care and assistance you need:
- Call 911 and seek medical attention if injured.
- Move to a safe location and exchange insurance and other information with the involved driver.
- Don’t apologize to the other driver, as this could be perceived as you admitting fault.
- Document the accident scene with photographs, written notes and information from any witnesses.
- Notify your insurance company as soon as possible.
- Keep records of any medical treatments and other expenses incurred due to the accident.
- Follow your doctor’s advice for any injuries; not doing so could impact your health and any legal claims.
- Consider consulting an attorney.
How can an attorney help with a car accident claim?
An experienced car accident attorney can help you with an accident claim by gathering relevant evidence to support your case, working to negotiate a fair settlement with the insurance company on your behalf and representing you in court if needed.
They can also guide you through the complexities of the legal process and advocate for you to ensure you get the compensation you deserve. You may not be aware of all the costs you can recover, and an attorney can help assess your financial and emotional damages to ensure you get maximum compensation.
Florida rear-end accidents in the news
A 19-year-old college-level soccer player, Chantelle Alexander, was a passenger in a rear-end car wreck in 2019 in which she sustained injuries that impacted her ability to play soccer at her previous level of competence and to play without pain. Her case went to trial, and a Florida jury ultimately awarded her $2.8 million in damages to compensate for neck and back injuries. The award included $2 million for the victim’s pain and suffering.
In August 2022, a box truck was rear-ended in Miami on the US-1 highway, and the driver who hit the truck fled the scene, along with the car’s passengers, after their vehicle caught fire. Miami Fire Rescue responded to the accident and put out the fire. The driver of the box truck was shaken but otherwise unharmed. The case remains under investigation.
Just before 4:00 am on August 14, 2022, a car crash occurred in Coconut Creek, Florida, when a woman collided with a marked police vehicle. The police officer’s Ford Explorer was hit in a rear-end collision, and the police officer brought his vehicle to a controlled stop. The woman’s car ricocheted off a palm tree in the center median before stopping on the westbound road. Both drivers were transported to the hospital, and the woman was pronounced dead an hour after the accident. The police officer was treated for his injuries and released.
Contact a Miami rear-end car accident attorney
If you or a loved one has been the victim of a rear-end driving accident in Miami, it’s crucial to seek the support and guidance of a dedicated attorney who specializes in representing plaintiffs in these types of cases. At Redondo Law, attorney Mike Redondo has a proven track record of successfully representing those injured through the negligence of others, always placing client satisfaction above all else.
To better help his clients and increase access for anyone who’s been injured in an accident, Mike speaks both Spanish and English and is happy to offer a free, comprehensive evaluation to potential clients.
Contact us today so we can help you get the compensation and justice you deserve.