The Leading Cause of Personal Injury Claims in Ireland
Rear end car accidents are undoubtedly the leading cause of personal injury claims in Ireland. Approximately two-thirds of all motor liability claims to the Injuries Board are associated with rear end car accidents, and that statistic does not account for rear end accident claims that are resolved outside of the Injuries Board process.
Because of the high volume of compensation claims for rear end car accidents – and the potential for false claims being made – insurance companies are being more careful about readily acknowledging their policyholders´ negligence, and investigating the circumstances of more rear end accident claims.
This does not affect those who are making a genuine claim for compensation, but it can result in the closer scrutiny of a claim for rear end car accident compensation and the possibility that an insurance company will approach plaintiffs with an unsolicited offer of compensation.
How Rear End Car Accidents Happen
Most rear end car accidents are attributable to driver negligence. The failure to pay proper care and attention to traffic speeds and road conditions often results in an accident or a near miss. Most of the following accident scenarios are avoidable if drivers adhere to their duty of care towards other road users:
- Accidents caused by inattentive driving, such as when a driver is talking on a mobile phone.
- Accidents caused by driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- Accidents caused by hazards on the road, such as animals or pedestrians
- Accidents caused by the failure to acknowledge fixed hazards such as roadworks
- Accidents caused by inclement weather conditions, especially fog or heavy rain
- Accidents caused by bad road conditions, particularly ice and snow
Sometimes the person who is injured is responsible for causing the accident. This may happen when the car which is rear ended has faulty brake lights or slows to make a manoeuvre without signalling. In these cases it may be possible for a passenger to make rear end accident claims against the driver of the vehicle they were travelling in if they have been injured due to the driver´s negligence.
Establishing Liability in Rear End Accident Claims
The law usually assumes that the driver of the rear-ending is at fault but, even if liability was admitted by the negligent driver at the scene of the accident, it is not necessarily the case that the negligent driver´s insurance company will settle rear end accident claims without holding an investigation. Therefore it is advisable to take steps to “officially” establish liability in rear end car accidents.
One way that liability can be established is if the Gardai was summoned to the scene of the accident. The Gardai would have compiled an accident report to support your claim for compensation, and if the accident was not considered sufficiently serious for the Gardai to attend you should make a report of your rear end collision at a Garda station at the first possible opportunity.
Making your own report of rear end car accidents does not establish the liability of the negligent driver, but the logged record of your call to the Gardai and your accident report will support your claim for compensation should the driver responsible for your injuries – or their insurance company – contest your claim for rear end car accident compensation.
Injuries from Rear End Collisions
Most people will be aware that whiplash is the most common injury that can be sustained in a rear end car accident, but victims can also suffer serious injuries to the spinal cord, fractures, concussion, and traumatic brain injuries. It is perfectly normal that the symptoms of whiplash do not to manifest for several days or weeks after an accident. Nonetheless, you should always seek medical attention after a car accident, even if you believe that you have not suffered any injury.
Should you delay seeking medical attention until symptoms of your injury manifest, the negligent driver´s insurance company could contest your claim for compensation on the grounds that you exacerbated your injury between the times of your accident and when you eventually sought medical attention. Although a worsening of your condition due to your own lack of care will not disqualify you from making rear end accident claims, how much compensation for a rear end accident you receive may be adjusted to reflect your own negligence.
Claiming Compensation for a Rear End Accident
The first stage of making rear end accident claims is to apply to the Injuries Board for an assessment of your injuries. The Injuries Board does not establish liability in rear end car accidents, so if the negligent driver´s insurance company feels the need to investigate your claim further, consent for the Injuries Board to assess your claim will be withheld.
If consent to assess your claim is given, the Injuries Board will calculate how much compensation for a rear end accident you are entitled to, based on the information provided by your doctor and yourself in your application. It may be necessary to undergo a further medical examination to assess how your recovery is progressing. Due to the unpredictable nature of soft tissue injuries, you should expect a secondary medical examination.
How Much Compensation for Rear End Car Accidents
How much compensation for rear end car accidents the Injuries Board will assess your claim for depends on the nature and extent of your injuries, the impact that your injuries have had on your quality of life and the financial implications of your accident. The physical injuries you suffered are assessed according to the Book of Quantum – a publication which allocates financial values to various injuries – while any expenses you have incurred or loss of income is compensated according to receipts and payslips provided to the Injuries Board at the time you make your application for assessment.
The element of compensation for rear end car accidents which is frequently overlooked is how much your quality of life has suffered due to somebody else´s negligence. Compensation for your “loss of amenity” can only be assessed if you include these details on your application for assessment. Consequently it is important that this element of your claim is adequately communicated to the Injuries Board. If you have any questions about what can and what cannot be included in an application, you are best advised to speak with a solicitor.
Passengers in Rear End Car Accidents
Passengers in rear end car accidents are also entitled to claim injury compensation when they have been injured in an accident, including – as mentioned earlier – when they were travelling in the car driven by the person responsible for causing the accident. Drivers who see a car approaching from behind in their rear view mirror often have a split second to brace themselves before impact. Passengers in rear end car accidents do not always have this opportunity and often suffer more severe soft tissue injuries as result.
Women passengers and children are also more susceptible to severe soft tissue injuries due to their weaker neck muscles. If your child has been injured in a car accident, you will have to make a claim on their behalf as a parent or guardian. The settlement of the claim will have to be approved in court before the claim can be resolved and your solicitor will be able to give you more information about making rear end accident claims for children when you contact them.
Rear End Accident Claims and Insurance Companies
It was also mentioned earlier that insurance companies are scrutinising rear end accident claims more carefully and contesting them whenever they feel it is appropriate. Their investigations also mean that you may be approached directly by an insurance company when it has received notification of your injury from their policyholder or the Injuries Board with an unsolicited offer of compensation for a rear end accident.
These offers should always be referred to your solicitor for, although the potential of a quick settlement may be tempting – unsolicited offers of compensation for a rear end accident rarely reflect your full entitlement to compensation. As it costs you nothing to speak with a solicitor about claiming compensation for injuries sustained in rear end car accidents, there is no reason why you should not get the offer checked out by a person with experience in such matters.
Speak with a Solicitor about Injury Compensation for Rear End Car Accidents
Despite the volume of injury compensation claims for rear end car accidents, no two cases are identical – even when the injuries sustained are the same. Although the advice provided above should be followed whenever you have been involved in a rear end accident, it is always in your best interests to discuss the circumstances of your accident and the injuries you sustained with an experienced solicitor.
Most solicitors will offer advice for rear end accident claims for free during an initial consultation. This advice will help you to determine whether you have a claim for rear end car accident compensation which is worth your while to pursue or whether to accept an offer of compensation made by the negligent party´s insurance company.
In some cases – where the symptoms of your injuries have not yet fully manifested or where further reports are required to ascertain your right to compensation for a rear end car accidents – it may not be possible to provide advice relevant to your personal circumstances immediately, but this should not stop you from speaking with a solicitor at the first practical opportunity.