Rear-end collisions happen when the front of one vehicle rams into the rear of another, and they occur far too often on Pennsylvania roads. According to the Pennsylvania Department and Transportation’s (PennDOT) 2016 Pennsylvania Crash Facts & Statistics, about 23% of crashes that year, totaling 29,511 crashes, involved a rear-end collision. Many of these crashes involved serious injury, such as whiplash, neck injuries, or paralysis, and 83 of them resulted in death.
It is often assumed that rear-end collisions are the fault of the driver who hits the car ahead, but this is not always the case. While the driver from behind should keep a safe enough distance from other vehicles to be able to react and avoid the collision, there are circumstances where the driver in front did something that caused the accident to happen and was at least partly at fault.
If you or a loved one has been injured or someone has died in a rear- impact collision, you may be entitled to financial compensation to cover medical, hospital and rehabilitation expenses, past, present and future. Damages may also cover current and future lost wages, including loss of wage horizon. Property loss may be covered as well as non-economic compensation, which is often the greatest loss. Non-economic compensation may be loss of life’s pleasures during one’s life, disfigurement, pain and suffering, and other items. However, your case must be handled correctly to prove the other driver was at fault, or you may never collect the compensation you are entitled to.
Our attorneys at Rieders, Travis, Dohrmann, Mowrey, Humphrey & Waters know the courts and the system and what you need to do to achieve a good settlement. Our seasoned rear-end collision accident attorneys have helped hundreds of people file successful personal injury lawsuits. With decades of experience and an excellent reputation in the legal community, we are well positioned to handle even the most difficult cases and have successfully represented clients in vehicle crashes of all kinds.
We offer a free consultation to discuss the facts of your individual situation, so contact us at our office or online today.
What the Law Says
Pennsylvania law says drivers have a duty to remain at a safe and reasonable distance behind another vehicle. According to the Pennsylvania Financial Responsibility Act, “The driver of a motor vehicle shall not follow another vehicle more closely than is reasonable and prudent, having due regard for the speed of the vehicles and the traffic upon and the condition of the highway.” 75 Pa.C.S. § 3310(a).
However, there are times when the driver who rear-ended another car is not at fault or is only partially at fault and can still receive some compensation. In partial-fault situations, the settlement is reduced by the percentage the driver is found to be at fault. Drivers who are more than 50 percent at fault may not collect damages.
In Pennsylvania, compensated costs and losses fall into two categories:
- Economic damages – expenses which can be calculated, such as medical, hospital, therapy, and rehabilitation costs, costs of equipment such as wheelchairs, lost income, lost future income, lost wage horizon, property damage, and funeral and burial costs.
- Non-economic damages –such as pain and suffering, loss of life’s pleasures, disfigurement, loss of marital relationship such as loss of society, services and consortium.
In Pennsylvania, because of the Financial Responsibility Law, there is a complex system as to what damages can be collected and what cannot. There also are issues in subrogation where there may be a lien and money has to be repaid. All this requires a substantial amount of knowledge concerning the Financial Responsibility Law and insurance availability in Pennsylvania.
Who is at Fault?
A driver who rear-ends another vehicle may not always be at fault. Proving this involves showing that your vehicle was under control and that you followed the vehicle at a safe distance for the circumstances. You must then prove that the front automobile driver was negligent, creating a hazard which could not reasonably be avoided.
Here are some examples of when a rear vehicle may not be at fault:
- Sudden Lane Changes — The front vehicle may be at fault if the driver changed lanes directly into the path of the back vehicle without warning.
- Lights Not Used or Broken — Pennsylvania law requires that brake lights be in proper working order, that headlights be used between sunset and sunrise and when vehicles 1,000 feet ahead may not be visible due to light or weather conditions. Flashing hazard lights must be used when a vehicle cannot keep up with the normal flow of traffic or minimum speed limit, or when a vehicle is stopped or disabled on a highway.
- Defective Road Conditions – If there are no road markings or warnings of construction, lane closures or a need to slow down for obstacles such as potholes, road debris or barriers, the agency responsible for the road may be at fault.
- Vehicle Malfunctions – In situations such as brake failure or if a car defectively accelerates, and the defect is supported by the testimony of a qualified policeman or mechanic, the car manufacturer may be partly at fault.
- Surprise and unanticipated medical condition.
What to Do in a Crash
If you are involved in a rear-end crash, there are things you should and should not do to increase the chance of getting compensation:
- Get off the road to a safe place, call the police, exchange information with the other driver and wait for emergency personnel.
- Get immediate medical assistance and describe all your injuries.
- Contact an attorney who can help you deal with insurance companies, gather evidence, and handle information, medical bills and treatment.
- Contact your insurance company to give notice of the accident. Ask your attorney before talking to insurance adjustors.
- Keep records of your medical bills, expenses, and progress.
- If you can, take photos with your Smartphone.
Achieving Results When it Counts
If you or a loved one is involved in a rear-impact collision, you should get legal assistance to protect your rights and ensure that you get the settlement you are entitled to.
The skilled and experienced Pennsylvania rear-impact collision and personal injury attorneys at Rieders, Travis, Dohrmann, Mowrey, Humphrey & Waters have spent decades honing their skills and successfully representing Pennsylvania families who have suffered an injury or loss due to someone else’s negligence. We offer personal attention and loyalty to every client, aggressively fighting for their right to compensation. Whether in settlement negotiations or pursuing a favorable trial verdict, we are thoroughly prepared and committed to achieving a just outcome. With our competent staff, we offer top-notch personal service.
We have years of experience dealing with the harm that results from rear-end collisions and have been successful in securing substantial recoveries for legitimate claims. If you or your loved one has suffered harm in a rear-impact collision, your next step should be to consult Rieders, Travis, Dohrmann, Mowrey, Humphrey & Waters by calling or by using our online contact form.
Based in Williamsport, we serve clients throughout the state of Pennsylvania, offering a free consultation on all personal injury matters. More than that, we offer you experience, knowledge, compassion, and a long history of results.