Millions of car accidents happen on American roads each year. And out of all of these accidents, more than 40 percent of them are rear-end collisions. Should you find yourself involved in one, it’s helpful to know how to proceed.
7 Steps You Must Take
Nobody pulls out of the driveway and anticipates getting in a car accident. However, for most of us, there will eventually come a time when we’re on either the giving or receiving end of a rear-end collision. And when you do find yourself in one of these scenarios, there are some important steps you should take to protect your best interests.
1. Check For Injuries
The first step is to pause and evaluate yourself for any injuries. Look around for visible signs of injury, including lacerations, bruising, broken bones, or other signs of trauma. After checking yourself, evaluate any other passengers in your vehicle.
2. Get Medical Attention
It’s wise to call 911 and request medical attention to the scene, regardless of whether you successfully identified any injuries or not. In the immediate aftermath of an accident, your adrenaline will be rushing and it’s possible that this is masking the presence of internal or external injury. A paramedic can evaluate you for signs that something is wrong.
Should the paramedic encourage you to visit the emergency room for further valuation, you need to listen to their recommendations. A failure to do so could (a) be dangerous to your health and (b) compromise the integrity of any future claims you have.
3. Gather Information
As soon as it can be confirmed that everyone on the scene is stable, you’ll want to gather information from all parties involved. If the other driver is clearly at fault, they’ll be required to report the accident to their insurer. However, you should never trust that they’ll follow through.
In order to protect yourself, always gather the following information from other parties involved: name, address, telephone number, insurance company name, and policy number. It’s also a good idea to get witness statements and contact information from other people at the scene.
4. Call The Police
Many times, the other party will suggest not contacting the police. However, be careful not to listen to this advice (as it could compromise your ability to make a claim).
“If there are physical injuries (either to yourself, the other driver, or passengers) or significant damage, you may want to call the police,” FindLaw.com suggests. “Although a police report may not be admissible in civil court, it will give you leverage when giving your version of events or reaching a settlement.”
If nothing else, a police report legitimizes the accident and allows you to go on record as to what happened.
5. Document What Happened
In addition to calling the police and giving the responding officer your version of events, we highly recommend documenting what happened.
Whether it’s on a sheet of paper or in the notepad app of your phone, taking copious notes will help you remember key details. (Don’t assume that you’ll remember everything when you get home.)
In addition to written notes, audio statements from witnesses, pictures, and videos may prove helpful.
6. Hire An Attorney
Rear-end collisions seem innocent enough, but by hiring a car accident attorney, you can ensure you’re being as thorough as possible. A good attorney will help protect your rights and make sure the car insurance companies don’t try to take advantage of you.
7. Contact Your Insurance Company
One of the benefits of speaking with an attorney first is that they can guide you on how to interact with your car insurance company (as well as the other driver’s insurance company). They’ll tell you exactly what to say, what not to say, and how to handle the process from start to finish so they don’t lowball you on the claim.
Take Every Accident Seriously
It’s tempting to treat a rear-end accident like it’s no big deal. And while they can be minor, they’re often much more serious than first meets the eye. By taking every collision seriously (regardless of perception), you can avoid finding yourself in a compromising situation down the road. Hopefully, this article gives you some solid pointers on how to proceed!