Can You Sue for a Rear-End Collision?

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Rear-end collisions happen every day, multiple times a day. In fact, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, rear-end collisions are the most frequently occurring type of collision, accounting for as much as 29% of all annual crashes and a significant number of moderate to severe injuries. They are also responsible for as much as 7% of all traffic-related fatalities.

Needless to say, rear-end collisions are not only a nuisance but also, they are dangerous. If you were party to a rear-end collision in Michigan, you may wonder if you can pursue compensation via a car accident lawsuit. Though Michigan is a no-fault car insurance state, the law may entitle you to pursue compensation for excessive damages if you can meet the state’s strict requirements for doing so. If you feel as if your damages are worthy of a lawsuit, retain the help of a reputable car accident law firm that has the talent, resources and experience to advise you of your legal rights and build a winning strategy. Contact Mike Morse Law Firm today.

How Rear-End Collisions Happen

If you plan to sue an at-fault driver for a rear-end collision in Michigan, it is important that you can establish fault. Not only is fault the basis of any negligence claim in any state but also, it is particularly beneficial in a no-fault state such as Michigan. This is because state courts are unlikely to hear a car accident claim that does not involve extreme negligence, severe or catastrophic injuries, or both.

Fortunately, establishing fault in a rear-end collision is rarely difficult. In most rear-end car crashes, the tailing car is responsible. To understand why this is, it helps to understand how rear-end accidents usually happen. Below are the top causes of rear-end crashes.

Distracted Driving

According to the NHSTA, distracted driving plays a role in as much as 87% of all rear-end collisions. When a person is distracted behind the wheel, he or she may fail to notice that the vehicle in front of him or her is stopped or slowing down and, as a result, hit said vehicle.

Tailgating

Tailgating is a term used to describe one car following another too closely. Tailgating is dangerous because it does not give the tailing vehicle enough time to break or change course should the vehicle in front stop suddenly, slow down or decide to change lanes. Tailgating is a leading cause of multi-vehicle accidents and pileups on highways.

Excessive Speeding

Speeding is responsible for nearly 10,000 deaths and 26% of all traffic-related fatalities each year. When a driver is traveling too quickly for road conditions, or when he or she fails to obey speed limits, he or she drastically reduces his or her stopping distance. If a car ahead slows or stops suddenly, the speeding driver may struggle to stop the vehicle in time, even after slamming on the brakes.

Failing To Signal/Stopping Short

In rare cases, the lead vehicle is at fault for a rear-end collision. This may be the case if the lead driver fails to signal before turning or slams on the brakes suddenly, thereby causing vehicles behind him or her to do the same. A lead vehicle may also assume fault if his or her brake lights are out and causes a collision as a result.

Mechanical Failure/Brake Failure

In even rarer cases, mechanical failures, such as brake failure, cause rear-end collisions. If a tailing vehicle’s brakes suddenly give out, or if they are on their last legs, it may be difficult — if not impossible — for the driver to stop.

Common Rear-End Collision Injuries

In addition to proving fault in a rear-end collision claim, you will also want to show that you sustained actual damages. The easiest way to do this is by showing proof of your injuries. Though car accident injuries range greatly in type and severity, some are more common of rear-end accidents than others. Those are as follows:

  • Whiplash: Whiplash occurs when the body is forcefully thrown back and forth, thereby causing the muscles in the neck and back to extend beyond their normal range of motion. This can cause those muscles to tear or strain.
  • Airbag Injuries: Though airbags were designed to protect and save people, they often cause severe injuries. Those include burns, abrasions, eye injuries and chemical inhalation.
  • Soft Tissue Injuries: Soft tissue injuries refer to injuries that occur to the joints, muscles or ligaments. They can include contusions, sprains, strains, stiffness and swelling.

Depending on the speed at which an accident occurs, a rear-end accident can result in more severe injuries. It is not uncommon for victims to sustain spinal cord injuries, slipped discs or spinal fractures in these types of accidents. Sadly, many of these types of injuries lead to partial or complete paralysis.

Pursuing Compensation Through Your No-Fault Insurance

The state of Michigan requires all vehicle owners to carry, at the very least, a basic no-fault insurance policy. Part of that insurance policy is personal injury protection insurance. If you meet the state’s minimum insurance requirements, your PIP policy should pay for all of your reasonable medical expenses, with no maximum limit. Moreover, PIP covers up to 85% of the income you would have earned had you not sustained injuries in your car accident, for up to three years. You also get an additional $20 a day in “replacement services,” such as transportation costs, in-home care costs, home maintenance costs, etc.

Though your own no-fault policy will not cover the cost of your vehicle repairs, the other driver’s policy should. Part of Michigan’s basic coverage requirements is property protection coverage, which pays up to $1 million in damages that one driver’s vehicle causes to another person’s property.

Your no-fault policy covers every person in your household. This is the case even if a household member sustains injuries in an accident while riding in another person’s vehicle.

State lawmakers choose to maintain a no-fault system for two primary reasons. The first is that it ensures accident victims can recover the compensation they need to recover quickly, and without having to go through the costly legal process. The second is that it keeps the court dockets clear, thereby alleviating the system’s burden. For these two reasons, the state prefers that accident victims seek compensation through their own insurance companies before pursuing an accident lawsuit.

When You Can Sue Outside of Your Insurance

Generally speaking, there are only three instances in which you may pursue a third-party legal claim for car accident damages in Michigan. Those are as follows:

  • You suffered a “serious impairment of bodily function
  • Your vehicle repair costs exceed what the at-fault party’s insurance will cover, and you do not have collision or comprehensive coverage
  • Your insurance company refuses to pay out benefits or fails to pay benefits in a timely fashion

If your injuries qualify as a “serious impairment,” you have the greatest likelihood of recovering compensation outside of your insurance than under any other circumstance.

When To Contact a Michigan Car Accident Lawyer

Following any car accident in Michigan in which you sustain injuries, you should always speak with an experienced car accident lawyer, just in case. This is especially true following an accident in which the other party is clearly at fault, such as a rear-end collision. Whether you simply want to learn more about your rights and options or are ready to file a car accident lawsuit, contact an attorney who can guide you from the free initial consultation to a successful resolution. Contact Mike Morse Law Firm today.

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