What You Need to Know to Protect Your Rights
It happens in a moment: you're stopped at an intersection and a distracted driver slams into the back of your car. What you do right after your crash can have big implications for your future, so it's important to proceed carefully. If you were in a rear-end accident, here's what you need to do.
Call the Police and Document the Accident
Even if you were rear-ended at a low speed, there's no such thing as a truly minor accident. It's important to call the police and have them investigate. The official police accident report will become a key piece of evidence in your claim. In addition, get contact information for witnesses, and take pictures of the scene and any visible injuries.
Keep your comments to anyone at the scene brief, focusing on the basic facts of what happened. Save any more detailed discussions of the accident for your attorney.
see a Doctor Promptly
Don't just "walk it off," even if you feel fine. Rear-end collisions can cause injuries with delayed-onset symptoms. For instance, if your head moved violently forward and back, even if you didn't hit it on anything, you may have a concussion (we call this a coup-contrecoup brain injury). You need to get checked out by a doctor to diagnose your injury and take any precautions to avoid making it worse. Go to your primary care provider, an urgent care clinic, or an emergency room and tell the doctor you were in a car crash.
Getting prompt medical attention is not only the best option for your health but also helps protect your legal rights. In a rear-end case, the insurance company isn't likely to dispute fault, but they absolutely will dispute the extent of your injuries or question whether they were sustained in the accident. Seeing a doctor creates a record of your injury that will help prove your claim later.
Notify Your Insurance Company
You need to promptly inform your insurance company that you were in an accident. However, you don't need to speak to them in detail. Give them a brief summary of what happened and decline if they ask you to give a recorded statement (remember, that could be taken out of context and used against you later).
If the other driver's insurance company contacts you, politely decline to speak with them. Their interest is in protecting their insured driver and their bottom line, not you.
Contact an Attorney Right Away
An experienced attorney can protect your rights and deal with the insurance company while you focus on healing. We'll investigate what happened and advocate for the full amount of compensation you deserve for your rear-end accident.
Rear-end accidents may seem routine, but in our experience, they can quickly become surprisingly complex. We offer a free consultation, so you have nothing to lose by having a conversation with us about your legal options. If you've been rear-ended, contact us today for a free consultation.