You were just sitting at the light, waiting for it to change when, out of nowhere, ka-BOOM! You were hit from behind by another car. You probably weren’t even looking in the rear view mirror, and since the car wasn’t in reverse, the back-up camera was not engaged on your dashboard’s smartscreen. So you never saw this accident coming.
Being struck from behind is, statistically, not an abnormal event. As Richard D. Schuler, an attorney with the law firm Schuler, Halvorson, Weisser, Zoeller & Overbeck P.A., who specializes in car and truck accidents explains, “Rear-end collisions are the most common form of car accident with roughly 6,000 rear-end collision accidents occurring across the country each day.”
So what should you do after being struck from behind by an inattentive motorist? Pretty much the same thing that you’d do after any automobile accident, but you will need to pay particular attention to a few extra details.
Make Sure You Are Okay
A rear end collision is a traumatic event and you will probably be suffering from shock immediately after the accident. Once you become cognizant, check and make sure that you are not bleeding and that all of your limbs and extremities are functioning properly. If that’s not the case, you probably have internal injuries.
If you are capable, call 911 and explain that you have been in a traumatic rear-end collision and that you have mobility issues. Then wait for the Paramedics and/or EMTs to get to the scene and follow their instructions.
If you find that you can move, and think clearly, after the accident, take it slow and easy. Many soft tissue injuries, like after sudden impact from a rear-ender, will not present themselves right away.
Information Exchange with the Other Driver
The next step is for you and the other driver to share pertinent information with each other. Record the names, addresses, contact phone numbers, insurance policy numbers, driver license numbers and license plate numbers for everyone involved in the crash.
Don’t argue about whose fault the accident was – that will all be determined much later. Debates about responsibility right after an accident can easily escalate, which can be dangerous and libelous for you. If others start bickering – stay out of it.
Take some pictures of the accident scene – anything that can help you remember details, which you may need to recall many months later. Create a folder for this accident on your smartphone and place all of these pictures into it along with any other related information
If the other driver is reluctant to share his contact information, and especially if he doesn’t offer his insurance policy number, but tries to offer you some sort of “deal” – you need to call the police. And don’t speak to him any longer.
For any rear end collision, you should retain an attorney, one particularly experienced in auto accidents and the injuries that can result from them. The best way to find a good attorney is by asking for a referral from a good friend or family members who have recently hired an attorney. If they had a good experience, that’s the most reliable endorsement you can get.
If you don’t know anyone who has worked with an attorney recently, the next best method is to go online and check on car accident attorneys at one of the crowd-sourced review websites, like Angie’s List or Yelp.
Keep in mind while you’re reading the attorney reviews that some of these reviewers could be family members or close friends of the attorney, or even individuals acting as sales agents for the attorney who are paid to write positive reviews. Make sure you check the history of the reviewer and inspect their other reviews to determine the validity of their praise.
Also, be wary of extremely negative reviews that often come from trolls, who are angry loners with nothing better to do than ridicule professionals for their own delight. A quick check of the other reviews by critics like these will reveal whether they are trolls or not.
Make Sure You Have a Good Outcome
Your insurance company will see that your car is returned to its original condition before the accident, or may even replace it. But taking care of yourself is the important thing.
Your lawyer will set up an examination by a doctor skilled in the treatment of soft tissue injuries. Make sure you follow medical instructions carefully, even if you don’t feel that badly. These types of injuries often do not reveal themselves until well after an accident. Abide by your physical rehabilitation to the letter. Later on in your life; you’ll be glad you did.