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What To Do When You Are Rear-Ended In Your Car

All car collisions should be treated seriously by both parties regardless of how "minor" you perceive them, and a rear-end collision is no different.

Being rear-ended by another driver may not result in significant damage to your automobile or bodily injury, but you still need to say calm and alert so the situation doesn't get out of hand. It’s important to know exactly what to do when rear-ended so that the situation can be resolved quickly and correctly, without getting an attorney involved, when it comes to determining fault and repairing any damage your car sustains in a rear-end collision.

Here are five suggestions for what to do when rear-ended so you can get the best result for you and your vehicle following a rear-end collision.

1. Check both parties for injuries. Rear-end accident injuries are more common than you might think, particularly if anyone in either vehicle wasn’t wearing a seatbelt. If someone has been injured in a rear-end collision, call for medical help immediately.

2. Contact the police. No matter how much — or how little — damage to either car resulted from the accident, the police are necessary to validate an insurance claim. The police are the ones who not only confirm that a car accident really took place but also determine which driver was at fault in the car accident. Knowing who was at fault often plays a huge role in the way the insurance companies for each driver will cover the car accident as well as any injuries received in it. Police can also be helpful in keeping the communication peaceful and under control after a car accident.

car hit back of truck

3. Involve your insurance company. Both insurance companies should be notified if there is a car accident, especially if there is an injury. Even if the other driver wants to "handle it between the two of you," it's smart to err on the side of caution.

If an insurance carrier is not contacted, you are left at the mercy of the other driver. They now can run out on covering the cost of the damages that they caused. Getting the insurance of both parties involved as quickly as possible helps to get you the best coverage possible, resulting in quick repairs and costs being covered without issue.

4. Make note of insurance and contact information. The best way to get this information from the other party is by keeping a calm and friendly demeanor, regardless of how frustrated you may be with the circumstances surrounding the car accident.

Important pieces of information to gather are the names of both the driver and the owner of the vehicle, phone numbers and addresses, copies of driver's license information and license plate numbers.

photo taken of crash

5. Document the damage and the scene. In this day and age, it is easy to snap photos or create video documentation of the damage for later proof. You should also immediately write down and document all circumstances and possible reasons for the collision.

Having all this information will help to settle all insurance claims in a timely manner without requiring the help of an attorney.

Which Driver is at Fault When Someone is Rear Ended?

Finally, a word of advice when it comes to determining which driver is at fault in a rear-end collision.

Conventional wisdom holds that the driver of the car that runs into the car in front of it is at fault in a car accident; likewise, if you hit another car from the rear, you are at fault. However, this is not always true.

The idea is that if you hit another car from behind, you weren’t following at safe distance, meaning you weren’t leaving enough space for the driver in front of you to slow down or stop if he or she needed to for any reason, such as an obstruction in the road, traffic congestion, etc.

However, under the following circumstances, the driver of the leading car might be at fault in the accident if hit from behind by another driver:

  • Leading car’s brake lights aren’t working correctly
  • Leading driver has slowed or stopped to turn and then does not proceed with the turn
  • Leading driver reverses their car into the following car
  • Leading driver “brake checks” the following driver, meaning he or she deliberately brakes hard to frustrate the following driver or even to cause crash

It can be difficult to prove who is at fault in these and other circumstances, which is why it can be a good idea to have a dashboard camera set to record as you drive in your car. If who was at fault remains in dispute after an accident, you may want to contact an attorney for help.