Knowledge base

Rear Ended in a Car Accident – What Do I Do?

Rear ended or hit from behind car and road accidents involve a collision between the front of one vehicle and the rear of another. They are generally attributed to excessive speed, driver distractions or inattentiveness and account for nearly a third of all motor vehicle accidents.

Rear ended - can I claim compensation for injuries?

Starting compensation claim after rear ended accident

You may be able to claim compensation for injuries sustained in a motor vehicle accident if it resulted from someone else’s negligence. In Queensland, drivers and passengers injured in a motor vehicle accident can claim compensation from the at fault driver under the Compulsory Third Party (CTP) Insurance scheme.

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What can I claim for? 

Personal injury compensation is intended to cover your loss that results from your injuries. You may claim after being rear ended for:

  • medical, hospital, surgical and rehabilitation costs,
  • lost income and future earning capacity;
  • lost superannuation
  • care and assistance; and
Motor vehicle accident injury claims

You may also claim an amount of “general damages” for the pain and suffering you have experienced as well as any permanent loss of enjoyment of life. In calculating what is an appropriate amount the court will look at the impact that you injuries have had on your life by considering what your life was like before the accident and what it is like now.

Can I claim compensation for the damage to my vehicle?

It is estimated that the average rear end collision causes property damage to a vehicle of $3,000. However depending on the speeds involved the degree of damage may range from a minor dent to a complete write off.

You can make a claim for the damage caused to your vehicle in a rear end accident from the at fault party. The at fault party is liable to compensate you whether or not they are insured for third party property damage. If they are insured they have the option of making a claim with their insurer.

Who is at fault in a rear end collision?

Who is at fault for the accident, must be determined since they will be liable for any damage or injuries sustained. Fault can be difficult to assess with rear end collisions, however there are some general principles which can be used for guidance.

Rear ended: accidents involving two vehicles

Rear ended accidents involving multiple vehicles

Where only two vehicles are involved in a rear rend accident, the driver of the car behind is deemed to be at fault. However, if the impact results from the car in front rolling back, the driver of the front car will be liable no matter how close the car was behind.

Rear ended: accidents involving three or more vehicles

In accidents involving three or more vehicles, the last car in the pile up may be deemed responsible for damage to all cars involved if it caused each to subsequently hit the vehicle in front. If all cars in front of the last vehicle had already made collided, the each car is generally only liable for the damage to the vehicle in front.

Rear ended: accidents in car parks

  • If you are hit from behind by a car reversing out of a carpark, the reversing car will be at fault.
  • If both parties were reversing simultaneously and collide, both will share equal fault and liability for the accident.
  • If both vehicles are reversing but one stops, the vehicle that continues to reverse causing the collision will be at fault.

Depending on the recollections of the people involved, and the availability of witnesses to the accident it can be difficult to prove exactly what happened. Where necessary the insurance companies or a court will decide fault based on the available evidence.

How do I make a claim?

CTP Insurance claim form and car

You can make a claim by sending a written demand to the at fault party, their insurer or both. If  they make a claim on their insurance you will then deal directly with their insurer. If you do not receive a response, or the at fault party refuses to pay, you may institute legal proceedings and sue them for the compensation. If you commence proceedings, the court will need to be satisfied that the other party is at fault so you will need to be prepared to provide sufficient evidence of this.  Generally, it is wise to seek the assistance of a lawyer for this.

How much can I claim?

If it is possible to repair your car, you can claim for the cost of your repairs and any other associated costs such as towing.

If your car is a write off you can claim your car’s lowest reasonable pre-accident value less the salvage value as well as towing.

Be sure to obtain a few quotes for the amounts of repairs or your car’s pre-accident value before making your claim so that you can prove they are reasonable.

What time limits apply to a rear end accident claim?

Strict time limits apply to making a claim for personal injuries following a car accident.

CTP insurer

Calendar and time limits to start a rear ended accident claim

If you are lodging with a CTP insurer you have 9 months from the date of the incident or the date symptoms of your injuries first appear (if you did not know about them at the time the incident occurred).

If you are lodging your claim with the Nominal Defendant because the ‘at fault’ vehicle was unidentified or unregistered, then you only have 3 months.

Compensation claim

For most personal injury claims, a legal action must be commenced within 3 years of the date of the injury. If you miss this deadline, you will lose the right to claim compensation.

However, depending on where your injury occurred or who you are claiming against, specific pre-court procedures may apply which may have much shorter time limits. If you miss these time limits you may lose your right to claim unless you can provide good reason for delaying and why you should be allowed to proceed with your claim. 

Those aged under 18 will typically have until they are 21 to start the claims process.

In addition, getting accurate records such as CCTV or reliable witness statements for example may be difficult if starting a claim several years after the incident.

In summary, it’s best to seek expert legal advice as soon as possible to ensure you understand your rights and the required evidence to make a strong claim can be gathered. View time limit information article for more detail.

What injuries can you get from being rear ended?

Head injury after rear ended in accident

Whiplash and spinal injuries are most common in rear end collisions due the sudden forward or backward force on the head and spine. Someone in a vehicle being hit from behind is potentially at more risk as the impact is sudden and unexpected. The body does not have an opportunity to brace and stabilise itself to protect discs and ligaments. A variety of other injuries that may also result from a rear end collision include:

Get advice on your rights 

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Last update on:
June 1, 2021
Disclaimer: This information is designed for general information in relation to Queensland compensation law. It does not constitute legal advice. We strongly recommend you seek legal advice in regards to your specific situation. For expert advice call 1800 266 801 or chat via live chat to arrange free initial advice with our Principal lawyer, Greg Smith.

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It’s important to get advice for your specific situation. Check if you can make a risk-free compensation claim and get free initial advice from our Principal lawyer, Greg Smith.

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