Home Car Accidents How Much Is a Rear-End Collision Worth?
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How Much Is a Rear-End Collision Worth?

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If you’re thinking, “someone rear-ended me, how much money can I get,” you’re most definitely not alone. In 2021, there were 6,102,936 police-reported crashes. It stands to reason that a good number of these were rear-end collisions

Further, 6.8% of fatal crashes involved being rear-ended. These, of course, are only the accidents reported to the police; some accidents, including hit-from-behind car accidents, are not reported to the police and or included in these statistics. Let’s talk more about a car accident hit from behind settlement and what you might be able to expect in terms of compensation.

How Much Do You Get for Getting Rear-Ended? 

Rear-end collision payouts will vary depending on how much damage is done to both the vehicle and any people in the vehicle. Most payouts for rear-end accidents are paid by private insurers. 

A settlement is the most likely outcome after a car accident caused by someone else’s negligence (and only if the injured files a claim), rather than going all the way through to a trial. Knowing the average settlement for rear-end collision and the average insurance payout for a rear-end collision can put you in a better place to evaluate your own settlement and make sure that you are being protected and represented. 

What Is the Average Payout for a Rear-End Collision? 

The average payout for property damage to personally owned vehicles in 2019 was $3,450 for damage to other vehicles and $4,202 for damage to the insured’s vehicle, for an average of $4,855 combined. 

This is higher for commercial vehicles, with an average of $5,663. 

2018 data shows that the comprehensive cost of a rear-end accident at signalized intersections averaged $26,700. Of course, this is likely even higher now, as costs have increased, so even getting rear-ended while stopped settlements may be expected. 

Average Settlement for Rear-End Collision

So, how much is a rear-end settlement? In addition to the cost of property damage to your vehicle, other factors are considered in a rear-ended personal injury settlement. This includes the severity of any injuries and the cost of medical treatment, lost wages if time away from work was necessary, and even pain and suffering and emotional distress. 

There are formulas used by insurance companies to determine the damages, especially ones such as pain and suffering where the economic cost isn’t as obvious as, say, lost wages or medical bills. 

In 2020, the average claim for bodily injury after a car accident was $20,235, while the average claim for property damage only was $4,711, according to the Insurance Information Institute. A different survey showed that the average settlement of car accident claims between 2015 and 2020 was $23,900, with most receiving under $10,000. 

This is for car accidents generally. It’s also important to keep in mind that although the average may be almost $24,000, it’s more likely for a claim to be under $10,000. This wide variance accounts for the outlying cases where property damage and personal injury claims are exorbitant. 

Rear-End Collision Settlement Examples

One law firm in Florida reports a rear-end settlement of $35,000 and another of $450,000.

Another Pennsylvania firm reports a $2,000,000 payout after their client suffered a serious head injury in a rear-end collision. 

In Wisconsin, one attorney reports a settlement of $3,596,360 for a person killed by a semi-truck rear-ending her. 

A national firm reports settlements of $1,000,000 in Tennessee and $7,000,000 in Pennsylvania.

This all demonstrates that even though the property damage is likely to be low in a rear-end collision, the rear-ended settlement average is brought up significantly when factoring in pain and suffering, medical expenses, emotional damage, and lost wages.  

What To Do When Someone Rear-Ends You

The first thing you should do after being hit from behind is to get the vehicle(s) off the road to avoid further damage, injuries, and crashes. 

Assess yourself for any injuries – even if you don’t see any obvious injuries from the outset, it’s a good idea to be evaluated by a doctor as soon as possible to be safe. 

Once you’ve checked yourself over, begin exchanging information with the other driver. You may need to wait for the police if the other driver is uncooperative, aggressive, injured, or under the influence. 

Make sure you take pictures of the damage to both vehicles and any visible injuries to use while filing an insurance claim. Next, you can file an insurance claim (and a police report if there’s significant damage or the other driver was uncooperative). 

⚖️ PRO TIP | Some states require anyone involved in an accident to report it to law enforcement if the damages are worth $500 or higher. Make sure you research the specific laws that apply to your state to determine whether you need to file a report and where to do so.

Once the dust settles, the insurance claim is filed, and you’ve been assessed medically, you may consider hiring an attorney to help protect your rights and advocate for you to get the best outcome. 

What Causes Most Rear-End Accidents?

Most rear-end collisions are caused by the person in the rear vehicle who does the rear-ending. This can be caused by following too closely, traveling at unsafe speeds, not accounting for weather or road conditions, or distracted driving (such as using a cell phone or eating). 

Sometimes, the car in front is the cause of a rear-end accident. If the car in front stops suddenly, “brake-checks” the car behind them, fails to pull over or put on hazard lights when driving with a flat tire or other hazardous condition or doesn’t maintain brake lights or other lighting equipment, a rear-end collision may be the fault of the person in the front vehicle. 

Who Is Usually at Fault in a Rear-End Collision?

In most cases, the driver in the second vehicle (the one that rear-ends the vehicle in front) is usually at fault in a rear-end collision. That said, it is worth mentioning that sometimes, the driver who rear-ends the vehicle in front of them may not be fully responsible for the accident.

Here are some quick examples of similar situations: 

If the accident occurred due to a sudden and unpredictable stop by the driver in front. The driver behind may not be fully responsible if they did not have sufficient time to react. Examples of such accidents include those that occur due to a mechanical failure, a medical emergency, or an animal darting into the road.

Additionally, suppose the driver in front suddenly changes lanes or engages in reckless behavior (like reversing suddenly on a highway), and a collision occurs. In that case, the driver in the back may have a stronger case for not being at fault.

Some motor vehicle accidents may involve several vehicles. When that happens, and the driver in the back is hit by another vehicle, they might not be considered at fault for the entire collision.

Finally, in cases of severe weather conditions, such as heavy rain, snow, or ice, it might be more challenging for the driver in the back to maintain control and avoid a collision, even if they maintained a safe following distance between them and the vehicle in front. 

To sum up, the issue of fault will depend on the specifics of the accident. Even when fault is determined, it might be shared between the parties involved.

⚖️ PRO TIP | Some states allow the injured to recover compensation even if they are partly at fault for the accident. For example, in pure comparative negligence states like Arizona, Alaska, California, and New York, you may claim compensation even if you were 99% at fault for the accident, but the settlement or verdict will only be worth the 1% you were not at fault for. 

What Is the Average Rear End Collision Pain and Suffering Settlement?

The average payout for property damage to personally owned vehicles in 2019 was $3,450 for damage to other vehicles and $4,202 for damage to the insured’s vehicle, for an average of $4,855 combined. 

Naturally, this is even higher for commercial vehicles, with a total average of $5,663. 2018 data shows that the comprehensive cost of a rear-end accident at signalized intersections averaged $26,700. 

Of course, this is likely even higher now, as costs have increased, so even higher getting rear-ended while stopped settlements may be expected.

The amount of damages awarded or a settlement offered for pain and suffering may vary greatly based upon the amount of damage and injury caused by a rear-end collision. Consider contacting a car accident or personal injury attorney to help ensure that you receive the compensation you deserve.

What Percentage of Crashes Are Rear-End Crashes?

A study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that 29% of car accidents are rear-end collisions.

Getting Rear-Ended While Stopped, Who Is at Fault?

Both parties may be at fault if you are rear-ended while stopped; however, the fault is usually assigned to the driver of the rear vehicle who hits the car in front. As mentioned earlier, each state has a different means of assigning fault and awarding damages based on that. 

How Long Does It Take To Settle a Rear-End Accident

The average settlement for a rear-end accident takes nine to eighteen months. This can vary depending upon the severity of injuries, the damage to the vehicles, and the complexity of the collision and determining fault. A payout may take anywhere from a few days to a few months or years. 

Three-Car Rear-End Collision Settlements Explained

Much like a two-car collision settlement, there will be an investigation done to determine who is at fault in a three-car rear-end collision. It is often determined to be the fault of the person in the back of the line who initially causes the rear-end collision. 

After fault is determined, injuries and damages will be assessed, and monetary costs will be calculated. The police and insurance companies will do separate investigations, and an adjuster from the insurance company/ies will be assigned. After fault is determined and property damage, medical expenses, and pain and suffering are calculated, settlement offers can be made, and negotiations can begin. 

Final Thoughts on Rear-End Collisions 

As with any car accident, being in a rear-end collision can be a scary and painful experience. It can also be costly, especially if you are injured in the hit-from-behind accident. However, it’s important to stay calm, assess yourself and your passengers for injuries, exchange information, and document any and all damage to your vehicle and your person. This documentation allows for the insurance payout to be more appropriate or to negotiate a higher settlement with the insurance company. Many insurance companies want to avoid the higher costs of litigation, and so may be willing to settle for a higher amount of money than is originally offered. 

The costliest part of a rear-end car accident settlement or insurance payout is the personal injury, not the damage to the vehicle. It’s important to be medically assessed as soon as possible after a car accident and to keep records of any medical appointments related to the accident. Settlements can vary widely based on the amount of property damage done to the vehicle and the severity of injuries of the accident victim. 

If you were rear-ended, you are not alone. You should be compensated for your damages and injuries if the accident occurred due to someone else’s negligence.  

Written by
Kendra Strobel

Kendra Strobel, Esq. is a 2017 graduate of the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. She is now a Pennsylvania based litigation attorney. During law school, she served as the President of the Pitt Law Women’s Association and class representative for various other organizations. She is a member of her local bar association, the Pennsylvania Bar Association, the American Bar Association, and the National Association of Women Lawyers.

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