You are on your way home, stopped at a red light at an intersection not far from home, when suddenly a car crashes into you from behind. Rear-end collisions are common and you can safely assume that the other driver will be deemed at fault for the accident. About the only way you can be found at fault for a rear end collision is if you suddenly slam on the brake in the middle of the road for no apparent reason.
First thing you should do is call the police and take photographs of the scene of the accident. If there is a witness, ask the person for their information and get it immediately. Also, ask whether they could give a statement to the police. Once the police arrive, explain the situation and have the police take the information of both drivers and cars and insurance. It is important that all the information is on the police report that you will eventually need when you call the other driver’s insurance.
If there is any serious bodily injury, and if anyone is unable to move, then you should go to the emergency room for immediate medical care.
People who get hit in rear end collision usually suffer from some neck and back injury: whiplash, a muscle strain or sprain, or possibly a disc injury (bulging or herniated disc).
If there is pain in the few days following the accident, then you should make an appointment with your primary care provider as soon as possible.
Don’t wait. Insurance companies generally assume that, if you did not seek medical attention immediately, you weren’t really hurt.
Also, do not miss medical appointments. If you have a pattern of missing medical appointments, the insurer will assume that your injury is not severe, or that you are healed, and will adjust the value of your case accordingly.
You should report the accident to your insurance company — and that of the offending driver — as soon as possible. Ideally, you would do this immediately after the accident, but as long as you do so within a day or two, you should be fine. Informing insurance companies of potential claims can trigger coverage and prevent disputes down the line.
Finally, you never want to settle a car accident claim until you have finished your medical treatment or are very close to finishing. If you are unable to fully recover from your injuries, then your case would probably be worth more than if you did fully recover.
Most small car accident cases almost never reach the lawsuit stage; they are often settled without the injured person filing a lawsuit. In very small cases (a couple of thousand dollars or less), you can probably negotiate the settlement yourself with the insurance company; you do not necessarily need a lawyer. For larger cases, it is unlikely that a person can get top dollar without having an Auburn personal injury lawyer.
A competent personal injury attorney can navigate the process for you and obtain a higher amount than what the insurance company would offer on its own. Remember, when insurance companies offer you a settlement, they are doing so with the best interests of the company put first. You deserve to have an attorney who will put your best interests first.
Thanks to our friend and blog author, Hal Walker of Walker Law Firm, for his insight into what to do after a rear-end accident.