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Rear-Ended at a Red Light or Stop Sign: Can You Sue?

By Brett Snider, Esq. | Last updated on

Being involved in a rear-end accident is bad enough, but its even worse when you're stopped at a red light or stop sign.

These kinds of accidents can be more than just annoying fender-benders; depending on your vehicle, they may cause serious injury or even death. That was certainly the case early Friday when a hit-and-run driver slammed into an Arizona motorcycle cop at a red light, killing the officer, Phoenix's KNXV-TV reported. Then there are chain-reaction crashes: The car that hit you may not have even been the one responsible for the crash, but you may still be injured.

So can you sue if you've been rear-ended at a red light or stop sign?

Rear-End Collisions Are Common, Not Trivial

You may know a handful of people who have been involved in rear-end collisions while sitting at a red light, and many drivers are lucky enough to walk away from a crash unscathed. You may not be so lucky. Aside from the readily apparent damage to the rear end of your vehicle, there may be unseen damage to the frame, locking mechanisms, or even the front and rear windshields.

And while your insurance company (assuming you're insured) may cover some of your car repair bills, it may not cover extensive medical bills related to the accident. Rear-end collisions can result in head and neck injuries that may not manifest themselves that day, but which may cost thousands to treat and cause serious pain and suffering. Both vehicular and medical damages can be recovered in a rear-end collision lawsuit.

What If the Car That Hit You Didn't Cause the Accident?

When you're rear ended at a red light or stop sign, the car that hit you may also have been stopped. The real perpetrator may have caused a multi-car accident.

If you sue for damages, you may be able to name all the drivers involved in the crash in order to collect compensation. Under a theory of joint and several liability, you may sue the driver of the car directly behind you for the entirety of your rear-end collision damages, even if he or she wasn't the one who caused the accident.

Because rear-end car crashes can often involve multiple parties, multiple insurance companies, and perhaps even uninsured drivers, you'll probably want to consult an attorney if you're rear-ended at a red light or stop sign.

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