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How do insurance companies defend at-fault drivers in rear-end collisions?

Posted by Raj Chohan | Mar 09, 2019

From a liability perspective, the rear-end collision is typically the least controversial kind of traffic crash.  If you've been injured by a driver who rear-ended you in Colorado, the good news is the at-fault driver's insurance company will typically accept full liability and will not try to assign blame to you.  The reason is fairly straightforward: motorists are required by law to put a safe distance between their own car and the one in front of them.  If there is a sudden stop, the driver behind the car that stopped is required to have left enough space between the two vehicles to avoid colliding with the rear end of the car in front.  This assumes the car in front had a valid reason for the sudden stop. Violation of this rule frequently results in a traffic citation for following too closely. An exception: insurance companies may still fight liability in rear-enders involving a sudden lane change immediately before the accident. For example, if the front driver cuts off a driver in another lane and then slams on the brakes, the liability insurance carrier for the car that rear-ended the front car may be inclined to dispute their insured's liability.

Even when an insurance company accepts liability it does not mean your case will be easy.  Instead of fighting on the issue of liability, the at-fault driver's insurance company will simply concede liability and shift the battle to causation and damages. A challenge on causation means the insurance company will dispute the crash caused the claimed injuries.  Further, the insurance company will also challenge the value of the claimed damages.  For example, insurance companies commonly argue that the medical treatment was overly expensive or unnecessary. Where there are prior injuries to the same area of the body, the insurance companies will argue that the current medical complaints are from the prior injury and not from the more recent motor vehicle collision. They may hire their own medical expert to conduct an IME or independent medical examination.  These doctors will often testify that the medical treatment was not medically necessary, that the claimed injuries were exaggerated or that the treatment was not reasonably related to the automobile collision. Indeed, insurance companies have received favorable jury verdicts even when they have admitted from the start that the automobile accident was caused by their insured driver.

Most of the time, the jury will never know that there is an insurance company in the background that will pay the jury verdict against an at-fault driver. In Colorado and many other jurisdictions, informing the jury that the at-fault driver had auto insurance will result in a mistrial which means the case will have to be tried all over again. The court could also force the plaintiff's side to pay for the defense costs leading up to the mistrial.

The way these cases are typically framed for the jury: the injured driver in a car collision is suing the at-fault driver and no one else. Because the jury never gets to learn that there is insurance that will ultimately pay a plaintiff's verdict, there is a risk that jurors might feel sorry for the defendant. They may see themselves in the shoes of the at-fault driver and go easy on the driver, particularly if the defendant is likeable.

This is why it is important to hire an experienced trial lawyer early in the process to make sure your case is being worked-up properly in the event that it goes to trial. An attorney who prepares a personal injury case with an eye towards trial can develop the proper evidence and strategies to overcome the defenses of the insurance company.

The Max Law Firm is well equipped to help you with your traffic injury case. If your case needs to go to trial, the Max has the trial experience to present your case powerfully and persuasively to a jury. For a free consultation call 720-699-8268.

About the Author

Raj Chohan

Raj Chohan is a personal injury attorney with a passion for helping injured Coloradans seek the compensation they deserve and the justice their cases demand. He is a former prosecutor with extensive jury trial experience in some of the most complex and serious cases that exist under Colorado law...