Can a Car Be Totaled From a Rear-End Collision?

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Can a Car Be Totaled From a Rear-End Collision?

You did not see it coming.

Unlike other types of auto crashes, rear-end car accidents typically take drivers by surprise. Unless you had your eyes on the rearview mirror, you probably did not see the other party impact the back of your vehicle. Rear-end accidents usually end up with the driver impacting the back of another car and subsequently assuming legal liability for causing the crash. Although the impacted driver might assume some fault for causing a rear-end collision, such as texting at an intersection, the blame for most rear-end accidents falls on the shoulders of the motorist driving the vehicle that hit the rear of another car.

When you think of rear-end collisions, you also might think about the fender benders that happen in parking lots, as well as at intersections. Rear-end collisions also unfold frequently on congested highways, where impatient drivers commit one or more acts of negligence in stop-and-go traffic. The damage produced by a rear-end collision varies in severity, depending on the speed of the car making the rear-end impact. If a car hit you from behind, you might sustain property damage as minor as broken taillights or as severe as an irreparable transmission. Can a car be totaled from a rear-end collision?

The short answer is yes, but many factors must come into play for an insurance adjuster to rule a vehicle no longer retains any value.

If your vehicle sustained damage because of a rear-end car accident, or any type of car accident for that matter, you should contact an experienced car collision lawyer to determine how to proceed with your case. A car collision lawyer conducts a detailed investigation into your case, which includes gathering physical evidence and interviewing witnesses that saw what transpired before, during, and after the rear-end auto crash. The attorney that you hire also helps you file a persuasive insurance claim, and if you have enough convincing physical evidence that indicates the other party committed negligence, a civil lawsuit that seeks monetary damages.

At Morgan and Morgan, our personal injury attorneys work closely with clients to help them recover from the financial losses generated by every type of motor vehicle collision. Since 1988, Morgan and Morgan has recovered more than $20 billion in compensation for our clients involved in personal injury cases, with a substantial percentage of the compensation coming from lawsuit rulings and negotiated settlements associated with car accident cases. 

Discover if you deserve compensation for the damage inflicted on your motor vehicle by scheduling a free case evaluation today with a car collision lawyer from Morgan and Morgan.

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Get answers to commonly asked questions about our legal services and learn how we may assist you with your case.

  • How Do I Know if My Car Is Totaled?

    Data collected from insurance companies and law enforcement agencies shows more than six million car accidents are reported each year in the United States. Who knows how many more vehicle collisions do not get reported? Of the more than six million reported motor vehicle collisions, some of the crashes result in at least one motor vehicle defined as totaled. This begs another question: How do insurance adjusters define a totaled automobile?

    The most basic definition of a totaled car is it costs more to repair the damage than it is to replace the damaged motor vehicle. If the insurance adjuster processing your claim determines your car is totaled, the insurance company compensates you for the value of the motor vehicle instead of authorizing repairs. One of the signs of a totaled car is the inability of the owner to drive it anywhere. Other signs of a totaled motor vehicle include a car that does not start, leaks a considerable amount of fluids, and contains parts that are bent and impossible to bend back into the proper positions.

    A motor vehicle losses more than 60 percent of its value after five years because of depreciation. Let’s say your car is five years old and you drove it off the dealership lot at a value of $30,000. Because of the standard depreciation table, your car is worth just $12,000 after five years. If you get involved in a vehicle collision and the damage produced by the crash amounts to more than $12,000, the insurance adjuster processing your claim should rule your motor vehicle a total loss and instead of paying for repairs, compensate you $12,000 for the depreciated value of the motor vehicle.

  • What Are the Most Common Types of Damage That a Totaled Car Sustains From a Rear-End Collision?

    Rear-end vehicle collisions can cause obvious external damage, as well as mechanical issues that only a certified mechanic can detect. Most of the types of damage associated with a rear-end collision do not warrant classifying the impacted vehicle as totaled. However, at the right speed, another motor vehicle can rear-end your car, which results in a total loss.


    Although most transmissions are located at the front or near the middle of an automobile, a rear-end car accident can cause extensive damage to the vital auto component. A strong enough rear-end impact can break one or more seals, which causes transmission fluid to leak out. If your vehicle starts to have trouble shifting gears or does not respond when you apply pressure on the accelerator, you might have sustained serious damage to the transmission as the result of a rear-end collision.

    An irreparable transmission can lead the insurance adjuster processing your claim to determine your vehicle to be a total loss.

    Body Damage

    Despite the sturdy construction of the rear end of a vast majority of automobiles, body damage represents a common result of a rear-end collision. Side panels can sustain significant damage to require replacement. Body damage also can occur underneath the rear of a motor vehicle, which can produce alignment issues that require extensive repair work. If your car’s suspension is determined to be beyond repair, the cost of replacing it might be prohibitive enough to have your car defined as a total loss.

  • What Are the Most Common Causes of Rear-End Crashes?

    When you meet with a car collision lawyer from Morgan and Morgan for a free case evaluation, one of the first items on the agenda concerns determining the cause of the accident. If your car collision lawyer determines at least one of the following causes has damaged your vehicle as the result of a rear-end crash, you might have enough physical evidence to prove the other party committed an act of negligence.


    As a type of reckless driving, tailgating happens when one vehicle follows too closely behind a second vehicle. This type of reckless driving often occurs in stop-and-go traffic when impatient drivers get too close behind other cars. Tailgating is a problem on highways where vehicles move at a relatively fast pace, as well as on side streets where speed limits rarely exceed 30 miles per hour. If a tailgating accident unfolds on a highway where the speed limits posed are 55 miles an hour or higher, the resulting damage and injuries sustained can be severe.


    Rear-end auto crashes represent a common type of vehicle collision for distracted drivers. For example, a driver trying to change radio stations might take the focus off the road long enough to ram into the back of another motor vehicle. Applying makeup and eating a meal also are considered acts of distracted behavior while operating a motor vehicle. The most common type of distracted driving concerns texting and driving, which many motorists do at traffic lights. Without looking up from their devices, they decide to accelerate their cars, which ends up causing a rear-end collision.

    Driving While Intoxicated

    Despite stricter laws and public awareness campaigns, driving while under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol remains a serious problem on American roads and highways. Driving under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol dramatically slows down reaction times. For example, an impaired driver reacts to approaching a stopped vehicle much slower than a sober driver. Intoxicated motorists also make poor decisions, such as tailgating another motor vehicle at a high rate of speed.

  • What Are the Most Common Severe Injuries Associated With Rear-End Auto Crashes?

    A serious rear-end collision can do much more than damage your car. It can also cause you serious harm. The car collision lawyer assigned to your case by Morgan and Morgan helps you file an insurance claim that gets you compensated for medical expenses. A rear-end collision can cause three types of severe injuries.

    Brain Trauma

    The element of surprise is what makes rear-end crashes as dangerous as they are for motorists. For most rear-end accidents, impacted drivers do not have any time to brace for impact. This means they cannot protect the head from absorbing a strong impact. Brain trauma can be relatively minor, such as developing a concussion that dissipates within a few days. It also can become life-threatening if a strong impact generated by a rear-end collision significantly damages the nerves that operate in the brain.


    What happens to your body when a car strikes your vehicle from behind? The law of physics states your head and neck violently snap back before quickly moving forward. Depending on the strength of the rear-end impact, you might sustain a serious injury called whiplash. Whiplash not only can tear the muscles and tendons joining the neck with the shoulder, but it also can cause the head to strike the dashboard or another part of the front of your car. Whiplash symptoms can develop right away or take a few hours to appear for a healthcare provider to issue an accurate diagnosis.

    Spinal Cord Damage

    The spine is designed to bend in a certain motion. If you experience a rear-end collision that produces a strong impact, your spine might bend in an unnatural way that causes considerable structural damage. You also are vulnerable to sustaining a fracture and/or a herniated disc. Rehabilitating from a significant spinal cord injury can take years or even a lifetime.

  • Work With an Experienced Car Collision Lawyer

    Hiring a car collision lawyer from Morgan and Morgan helps you file a persuasive insurance claim. Your attorney, along with one of our licensed investigators, collects physical evidence and interviews witnesses. You also receive advice on how to handle the processing of a claim that determines your car is not worth repairing.

    If your car sustained significant damage as the result of a rear-end car accident, act with a sense of urgency by scheduling a free case evaluation with a car collision lawyer from Morgan and Morgan.

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