“I got rear-ended!”
This phrase is spoken many times a day in the U.S. as there are around 1.7 million rear-end collisions each year. If you’ve found yourself the victim of a rear-end collision recently, don’t panic.
This stressful event doesn’t have to be cataclysmic for you. Here’s a simple step-by-step guide on what to do after a rear-end collision to ensure everyone’s safety and financial well-being.
I Got Rear Ended
Unfortunately, according to the National Safety Commission, rear-end collisions are the most common type of car accident in the U.S. Luckily for you, that means there is plenty of help available from those who have experienced the same thing.
Everyone from your car accident lawyer to police officers, heck, even witnesses or the other driver, have likely dealt with this before and may know what to expect.
But, for a personal refresher, here you go:
1. Don’t Panic
In any kind of accident, it usually takes a conscious effort not to initially react in panic. Resist the urge.
The last thing you need to add to a damaged vehicle and potentially damaged people is an argument or increased feelings of insecurity and stress. Try to stay calm.
If needed, take a few breaths or try counting to ten before getting out to talk with the person who rear-ended you. We guarantee, things will go a lot smoother for everyone involved if you avoid a confrontation or panic attack.
2. Pull Over
This may seem like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how often people do panic when they’re rear-ended and mistakenly zoom off or drive home to assess the damage.
The first thing to do after being rear-ended (and especially if you did the rear-ending), is to find a safe spot to pull over quickly.
Be sure you choose a safe location that it a good distance from the road and oncoming traffic.
Typically, it’s the best form for the person who was rear-ended to lead the way and select a good spot to pull over. The driver who did the rear-ending should follow a safe distance behind and pull over as well to assess the damage.
3. Call Authorities
The motto “better safe than sorry,” applies well to rear-end accidents. If you’re in a serious rear-end accident, calling authorities may seem more natural.
However, it’s the smaller accidents or “fender-benders” that may be tempting to just handle on your own. This can lead to some potentially serious issues if a driver decides to sue, claims to have injuries they didn’t exhibit at the time of the crash, or if you find there is more damage done than you initially thought.
Avoid legal problems, financial strain, or any issue related to dishonesty on the part of either driver involved–call the police to get an official report.
Even minor accidents are better left handled by police as they can document the condition of the cars, the contact information and license plates of those involved, and potentially protect both parties.
4. Seek Medical Attention
If the accident was severe, medical personnel should be requested at the time you call the police. When you call 911, be sure to let them know if anyone in the car is injured.
If you are the victim of the rear-end accident, even if you feel only a slight pain afterward, (in your neck for example), it’s wise to see a physician. Not only does this allow you to get proper care for your own recovery, but it can protect you legally if needed.
Having an official statement from a doctor or nurse stating that you indeed sustained an injury as a result of the collision may be vital should the crash end with you in court.
Not seeking proper medical attention (and validation) immediately could result in you being stuck with a hefty medical bill should the insurance companies deny your claim.
5. Take Lots of Pictures
Another important step that can sometimes be forgotten in the heat of the moment is to take plenty of photo evidence.
Through the idea out that this step and all others listed are only important in major accidents. Trust us, they are always important.
Take pictures of the damage done to your own car, as well as the other driver’s. Take photos of the road where the accident occurred, and any bruises or visible injuries sustained as a result of the crash.
Again, having plenty of clear photo evidence is simply a great way to make sure you are fully covered by insurance and protected legally. If it becomes necessary, make sure you know how to hire a quality attorney.
One last thing, don’t forget to get a photo of the other driver’s license plates. You never know if this will be needed.
6. Call Your Insurance Company
At the time of the crash, you will need to exchange contact information with the other driver. This includes names, phone numbers, insurance information, etc.
The sooner you call your insurance company and file a claim, the more likely you are to make sure all damage is covered.
Be sure to give them the name and personal information, (including insurance information), of the driver responsible for the accident.
Provide as much detail to the insurance company as you can.
What happened, the order of events, damage done, injuries sustained and more. This is also a good time to give the insurance company contact information for the police officers who attended and documented the accident.
If there were witnesses and you were able to get contact information from them, this is also valuable to provide to your insurance company.
More Help for Handling Accidents
The phrase, “I got rear-ended,” doesn’t have to throw you for a loop. Rear-end accidents are unpleasant, but they don’t mean you have to be a victim of dishonesty as well.
Protect yourself by following these simple steps and be proactive about covering your bases.
If you find that you’ve been rear-ended by a bus, check out our post, “Hit By a Bus?” for more help on how to react. Safe travels!