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

Written by Tom Crosley
Mar 13, 2023 Car Accidents, Personal Injury
  1. 1. How Are Rear-End Collision Settlements Calculated?
  2. 2. Other Factors That Might Affect Your Rear-End Accident’s Settlement Value
  3. 3. How to Get a Settlement After a Rear-End Accident
  4. 4. When Should I Settle My Claim?
  5. 5. How Long Do Rear-End Car Accident Settlements Take?
  6. 6. What Are Settlement Liens?
  7. 7. How Much Will a Personal Injury Lawyer Cost?
  8. 8. When Should I Call an Experienced Car Accident Lawyer After a Rear-End Crash?
  9. 9. Crosley Law: San Antonio’s Trusted Car Accident Lawyers

You were stopped at a red light, minding your own business. Suddenly, a truck rear-ends you, pushing your car into the middle of an intersection. Now, you’re living with severe back pain and your doctors are suggesting surgery.

Your car accident case is worth a lot of money, right? Maybe.

The reality is, there’s no such thing as an “average” settlement or payout for a rear-end car accident. Some cases are only worth a few thousand dollars. Others may be worth millions. Many factors can come into play, including the severity of your injuries, the amount of insurance coverage available, and the skill of your personal injury attorney.

This article outlines the essentials of Texas rear-end accident settlements and factors that might affect your case’s value. But the best way to get an accurate assessment of how much your case might be worth is to contact an experienced car accident attorney for a free consultation today.

How Are Rear-End Collision Settlements Calculated?

A personal injury settlement is meant to make an injured person as close to “whole” as possible. This means money to cover medical care and lost wages during recovery, as well as the psychological impacts of trauma, injury, or the loss of a loved one (in wrongful death cases).

Lawyers sometimes refer to these losses as “damages.” They also divide them into three common categories: economic, non-economic, and punitive damages.

Economic Damages

After your car accident, you probably experienced a variety of financial losses. You’ll need to pay your crash-related medical bills and repair or replace your vehicle and damaged property. You might be unable to work. All these costs and losses are economic damages.

Economic damages are anything you’ll get a bill for or money you didn’t get because of your injuries, including:

  • Hospital and doctor appointments
  • Surgeries
  • CT scans, MRIs, and other diagnostic studies
  • Medication and medical equipment
  • Physical therapy
  • Counseling and mental health services
  • Ambulance rides
  • Funeral and burial expenses
  • Lost income and wage-earning capacity
  • Replacement or repair costs due to property damage
  • Costs related to replacement services if you cannot perform certain tasks at home (like cleaning or lawn care)
  • Modifications to your home or vehicle, like ramps and hand controls

You can help your car accident lawyer calculate your economic damages by collecting all your medical bills, paystubs, statements, estimates, and receipts.

While economic damages seem easy to understand, they are not always cut and dried. For example, while you might know how much you’ve already paid for your medical treatment, it’s much harder to estimate your future medical needs.

The same applies to your lost income. You might know how much you’ve lost in earnings, but how much income will you lose over your lifetime?

At Crosley Law, our team often consults with experts like doctors, economists, and life planners to investigate and accurately estimate our clients’ future financial losses.

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Non-Economic Damages

Some losses aren’t financial. Your pain, grief, fear, and other forms of suffering are non-economic damages. Common non-economic damages include:

  • Physical pain and suffering
  • Loss of a relationship with a loved one
  • Mental anguish or distress
  • Physical impairment, such as the inability to do hobbies and other enjoyable activities
  • Disfigurement

Unlike your financial losses, you can’t present a bill to prove that you experienced pain and anguish. Most insurance companies use either a per diem method or a multiplier method to estimate non-economic damages.

  • Per diem method: The insurance company counts the number of days that pass between the accident and you reaching maximum medical improvement (or in other words, the point where your doctors believe you have recovered as much as possible). This is then multiplied by a daily rate, which will typically be roughly similar to your average daily wage.
  • Multiplier method: The insurance company adds up all your economic damages, then multiplies it by a certain factor (usually between 1 and 5). The more severe your injuries, the higher the factor applied.

However, the insurance company is not on your side, and they are likely to use whatever method, rates, or factors result in a lower calculation. And a simple formula cannot express the extent of your pain and suffering.

An experienced personal injury lawyer can help you show that you deserve a higher valuation. They might identify the most relevant medical records, consult with psychologists and other experts, track your mental health treatment, and collect statements from both you and your loved ones.

For example, we represented a mother after her only child was killed in a truck wreck. Our team worked with medical experts who helped us understand our client’s last moments and the pain and suffering she endured. Then, we interviewed dozens of the young woman’s loved ones, documenting how her loss had changed their lives. In the end, we recovered a $9 million settlement for the family.

Punitive Damages

Juries only award punitive damages in the most severe personal injury cases. Unlike economic and non-economic damages, these damages aim to punish a wrongdoer for their actions.

You might be eligible for punitive damages if the driver that rear-ended you acted intentionally or was very reckless. For example, punitive damages are sometimes available in drunk driving cases.

Other Factors That Might Affect Your Rear-End Accident’s Settlement Value

Calculating a personal injury settlement isn’t as simple as adding up your medical bills and lost income. Other factors might affect your case’s value, and you must consider them before you make a settlement demand.

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How Much Insurance Coverage Applies to Your Case

The insurance policy limits of the at-fault party are important. If your costs are higher than their policy limits, and the defendant doesn’t have the resources to pay the rest out of pocket, you could come up short.

In Texas, drivers must carry policies that cover at least $30,000 in injuries per person, up to $60,000 per accident they cause. Additional coverage is available, but not everyone has it. If the at-fault driver was operating a commercial vehicle, like a delivery truck or an 18-wheeler, then the minimum required insurance is $750,000, and it’s possible that the policy limits are even higher.

If the at-fault driver doesn’t have enough insurance, you should look for other sources for coverage. Unless you declined it in writing, you should have at least a modest amount of uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) insurance. This policy can supplement the at-fault driver’s insurance when your losses exceed their policy limits.

Similarly, you might have personal injury protection (PIP) coverage, which can provide extra coverage for your crash-related medical bills. (Again, your policy should include some PIP coverage unless you declined it in writing.) This is a no-fault policy that will cover some of your medical bills and lost income regardless of who caused the crash.

The Crosley Law team works closely with our clients to identify every policy that applies to their claims. It’s our goal to get you the compensation you deserve, so we aggressively work to identify everyone who contributed to your injuries and hold them accountable.

For example, we represented Miguel, a military veteran who was rear-ended by another vehicle. Miguel suffered severe injuries during the collision, but the at-fault driver was uninsured. We helped him file claims with his uninsured/underinsured motorist policy—and fought back when the insurance adjuster tried to blame his military service for his back and neck injuries.

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The Severity of Your Injuries

Rear-end accidents can cause serious injuries that are life changing. Some of the most common injuries caused by rear-end car accidents include:

As noted above, the severity of your injuries and symptoms make a difference when calculating non-economic damages such as pain and suffering. But insurance companies are notorious for undervaluing or even flatly denying the true seriousness of your injuries, particularly for “invisible” injuries (such as brain injuries) that are based on self-reported symptoms or are harder to prove via objective medical tests.

Evidence that you and your attorney might use to show the severity of these types of injuries include daily pain journals, interviews with colleagues and co-workers, or statements from physicians.

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Texas’ Comparative Fault Rules

Texas is a fault state, which means that the at-fault driver (or their insurance company) is primarily responsible to pay for the injuries they cause. How fault is assigned is a bit more complicated, however.

Under our state’s laws, the insurance company can reduce your damages by your percentage of fault. So, if you were 25% at fault and have $100,000 in losses, you might receive $75,000 in compensation.

If you were more than 50% at fault, you will receive nothing.

Insurance companies sometimes try to shift blame to crash victims, hoping to use these comparative fault rules to their advantage. If the insurance adjuster starts unfairly pointing their finger at you, consult with a lawyer right away.

Many people mistakenly believe that trailing drivers are automatically presumed to be at fault in rear-end collisions. While it’s true that they are usually held at fault, it is not automatic. The front driver may be held partially or even totally at fault if they contributed to the accident by performing an action that an “ordinarily prudent” driver would not have—such as an unsafe lane change.

This can especially get complicated if there are no witnesses or if the at-fault driver is dishonest. Recently, we represented a driver who was injured in a crash after a semi-truck cut him off on the highway. The truck driver claimed that he was forced to slam on the brakes after being cut off, and our client, Michael, was following too closely. By reviewing the crash recording data from both vehicles, we proved the accident was clearly the truck driver’s fault.

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How to Get a Settlement After a Rear-End Accident

The first step in securing an auto accident settlement of any amount is filing a car accident claim. Most of the time, rear-end accident cases settle out of court. However, be aware that the initial settlement offering may be well below what you need and deserve. It’s important to work with an attorney who knows how to negotiate and is willing to go to trial if necessary.

If the accident was complex or the defendant and their insurance company won’t agree to a fair settlement, you and your lawyer may decide to file a lawsuit. If negotiations continue to break down, the case may wind up in trial.

Your attorney will guide you through gathering evidence, determining a fair settlement, and negotiating with the insurance companies. This is especially helpful if the defendant doesn’t have insurance or carries a policy that doesn’t cover your needs.

Once you and the defendant have agreed to a rear-end accident settlement or you have won at trial, the settlement check will make its way to your attorney’s office.

When Should I Settle My Claim?

When you settle a rear-end accident claim, you accept a lump-sum payment in exchange for giving up your right to file a lawsuit. This means that, once you’ve settled your case, you cannot go back and demand more compensation from the at-fault driver or the insurance companies.

Insurance companies typically try to settle cases for as little money as possible, and you should never assume that the adjuster’s offer is fair. Instead, you should always be cautious and consult with a Texas personal injury lawyer before taking a car accident settlement.

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How Long Do Rear-End Car Accident Settlements Take?

Just as there is no great answer for what an “average” rear-end collision settlement is, it’s impossible to provide a precise answer here. For car accidents overall, the average time to settlement from hiring an attorney is about 18 months. But actual results vary, from just a few months to several years.

Factors that can increase the length of time it takes to settle a case include:

  • Whether or not fault is disputed. As noted above, the trailing car is usually at fault, but not always—and insurance companies will look for any excuse to shift the blame.
  • The number of victims. Rear-end collision cases often result in injuries to multiple victims, particularly if there’s a multi-car pileup. In these cases, it’s more likely that the total bodily injury liability coverage available won’t be enough to cover everyone’s damages, and will need to be apportioned on a case-by-case basis. This is complicated and often takes time.
  • The severity of your injuries. More severe injuries usually mean it takes longer to reach maximum medical improvement and accurately calculate future damages. It also often means that the insurance company will fight harder to defend itself against the claim, since it has more to lose.

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What Are Settlement Liens?

Settlement liens are when a third party has a legal claim to a portion of your settlement. In a personal injury case, this is typically the portion of your settlement that will pay the medical expenses your health insurance didn’t cover.

Medicare, Medicaid, and certain auto and health insurance carriers can have liens against your payout for a rear-end accident settlement. We work with our clients to fairly resolve these liens—and we sometimes can negotiate with the lienholders to reduce these expenses.

How Much Will a Personal Injury Lawyer Cost?

Most, if not all, injury lawyers are paid on a contingency basis. That means that they do not get paid unless they help you settle your case or win at trial. You shouldn’t have any upfront costs or financial risk when you hire a car accident attorney.

Sometimes, insurance adjusters will tell you that hiring a lawyer is a waste of money. However, research suggests that people who hire lawyers receive more compensation than those who represent themselves.

Crosley Law has a “no fee” policy. Our clients never pay for their attorney’s fees or case costs unless we help them recover compensation. Our initial case evaluations are always free too.

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When Should I Call an Experienced Car Accident Lawyer After a Rear-End Crash?

You should contact an attorney as soon as possible after the accident happened.

Rear-end accident victims often attempt to handle cases on their own at first, thinking that the law will protect them, the insurance company will act in good faith, and that fault in the accident should be obvious. Unfortunately, it’s usually not that simple.

By the time you realize you need experienced legal help, it may be more difficult to prove your case or get a fair settlement. Evidence that can prove what really happened, such as photos of crash damage or debris, event data recorders, or security camera footage, may no longer exist. And if you didn’t seek medical attention right away, it may be harder to tie your current symptoms to the crash.

It is always to your benefit to seek out an attorney for a free consultation. Your attorney can help you evaluate your legal options, give you an early estimate of what an average settlement might look like, act quickly to protect and gather key evidence, and handle negotiations with the insurance company on your behalf. This allows you to put your mind at ease and focus on your physical and emotional recovery, while your attorney focuses on making sure you get the care you need and the best settlement possible.

Crosley Law: San Antonio’s Trusted Car Accident Lawyers

If you or a loved one have been in a rear-end crash, an experienced car accident attorney will be vital to negotiating and securing the compensation you deserve. Whether you’re suffering from whiplash, a herniated disc, or a traumatic brain injury, the team at Crosley Law is ready to provide a personalized assessment of your case’s settlement value.

Please contact our law firm at 210-LAW-3000 | 210-529-3000 or complete our short online contact form to schedule a free consultation with our personal injury lawyers.

References

Texas Department of Insurance. (n.d.). Automobile insurance guide. Austin, TX: Texas Department of Insurance. Retrieved from https://tdi.texas.gov/pubs/consumer/cb020.html

The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.

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