In congested traffic, the odds of a rear-end collision substantially increase. There are more drivers stuck in a smaller area. Not only is it more difficult to predict what those drivers are going to do, it can be difficult to maneuver in tight traffic. A moment’s distraction or inattention, and bang! Suddenly, you’re the victim of a rear-end collision. How do you proceed from here? What’s the right process after you’ve been rear-ended, especially in tight or congested traffic? While working with a qualified attorney is the most effective way to ensure that your rights are protected throughout the process, it’s important to proceed carefully in the initial stages after the accident.
What to Do If You’ve Been Rear-Ended
You were stuck in traffic, unable to move forward. Suddenly, a jolt hit you from behind. You’ve been rear-ended. Now what? There are several key steps that you should take immediately after your accident.
Step One: Seek Medical Care if Needed
If you’ve been involved in a traffic accident in which you’ve been rear-ended, receiving the right medical care should take top priority. If you feel disoriented, have lost consciousness, or are experiencing significant pain as a result of the accident, dial 911 from your vehicle or ask another driver to summon help. If you believe that you are seriously injured, try not to move around much, since this can contribute to increased injury. Even if you don’t believe you’ve been injured, it’s best to get checked out by an EMT, and at the very least you should seek medical attention from your usual medical provider in the next day or two. Failing to seek medical care can both harm your health and make it more difficult for you to recover compensation for your injuries down the road.
Step Two: Move the Cars if Possible
You’re already stuck in congested traffic. Ideally, especially if you’re on a highway, move your vehicle and the other vehicle involved in the crash to the side of the road. This will help allow traffic to flow more smoothly around you. If you or the other driver are severely injured or if it’s not possible to move the vehicles, wait for help to arrive. Pay attention to the area as you choose to move your vehicles. You don’t want to move your vehicles to an unsafe area, nor do you want to put yourselves at risk as you’re exchanging information. In some cases, if you move your vehicle off of the road into an unsafe area, you risk a secondary accident. If you’re unable to move your vehicle, determine whether or not you are able to move away from the vehicle and where you can find a safe place to wait for first responders to arrive.
Step Three: Collect Information
In most cases, a rear-end collision is solely the responsibility of the driver in the rearmost vehicle. Only if you attempted to cut sharply into traffic, leaving the driver behind you without adequate room to stop or slow down, will you likely be held at fault for the accident. Witness statements, however, can still be useful, especially if there was something unusual about the accident. You’ll also want to collect the other party’s insurance information and names of any witnesses. In most cases, rear-end collisions are fairly straightforward.
If the other driver involved in the crash attempts to flee the scene, make sure you collect as much information about the car as possible before they leave. This may include noting the make and model of the car and its color as well as collecting license plate numbers. In this case, congested traffic may work in your favor, since it will make it easier to examine the car in more detail.
Step Four: Take Pictures
If you’re physically able, take pictures of the accident scene, including both of the vehicles involved in the accident. This can help establish any damage that was caused by the accident later. You should be sure to take photographic note of any features of the area that may have contributed to the accident. For example, did the accident occur on a steep hill? Was there a reason why you had to slam on your brakes quickly, which may have contributed to the accident? Make sure to document anything that could have factored into your accident.
Step Five: Contact Your Lawyer
Because you were rear-ended, you may assume that your case is simple. Obviously, you think the other driver was at fault! That doesn’t mean, however, that you don’t need a lawyer to represent you throughout the process. Your lawyer can help you with a wide range of important tasks after a rear-end accident, including:
- Negotiating with the insurance company
- Checking your settlement offer to make sure you receive what you deserve
- Working with you to make sure that the other driver is established as being at fault
Step Six: Continue to Document Your Injuries
In a simple rear-ending accident where no injuries occur, the resolution is often very simple. Damages to your vehicle are paid out, and you’ll take care of repairs and move on with your life. Again, however, don’t immediately assume you haven’t been injured. See a doctor after any auto accident, no matter how minor it initially seemed.
When an injury occurs, resolution can be far more complicated. Make sure to document your injuries and the progression of your healing. This includes:
- Keeping track of immediate medical expenses, including ambulance transport or bills received from the hospital
- Tracking any rehab appointments or ongoing visits to your doctor
- Noting the healing of your injuries, including photographic evidence of that healing as needed
- Tracking time spent off work as a result of your accident or your injuries
The more severe your injuries are or the more time you’ll need to recover, the greater the amount to which you may be entitled as compensation. Make sure that you keep track of everything related to your injuries so that you don’t miss out on any of the help you deserve.
Seeking the Help You Need
If you’ve been involved in a rear-end collision, make sure that you don’t miss out on the compensation you deserve! Call Abels & Annes, P.C. at (312) 924-7575 or contact us online.to learn more about how we may be able to help you seek appropriate compensation for your injuries.