6 Steps to Take After a Rear-End Collision

6 Steps to Take After a Rear-End Collision
What to Do If You Are Rear-Ended

Rear-end collisions are among the most common types of accidents involving motor vehicles. However, just because they're common doesn't mean they're not serious. Rear-end crashes can range from minor fender-benders to life-altering crashes.

To determine whether you have a valid claim for financial compensation and to get the skills legal advice and guidance you need to improve your chances of obtaining a successful outcome, contact an experienced car accident attorney near you for a free consultation.

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What to Do if Rear Ended

In the aftermath of a rear-end car accident, you will ideally be able to take steps at the scene to prove your claim. These include:

  • Exchanging information with the other driver
  • Taking photos of the accident scene, including the vehicles involved, your injuries, etc.
  • Interviewing nearby witnesses
  • Examining the area for key details (such as the presence of traffic signs and signals, the condition of the roadway, weather, lighting, and other factors)
  • Providing a statement to the police

However, taking these steps may be unsafe, impractical, or even impossible – especially if you suffer a serious or catastrophic injury. As such, it is important to look beyond the moments immediately following the accident to what you should do in the hours, days, and weeks after the fact.

If you have been involved in a rear-end collision, you should:

1. Seek Medical Attention

If your injuries are serious, you should call 911 or have someone make the call for you. When they arrive on the scene, the paramedics may recommend taking you to the emergency room. You should follow this recommendation and get the care you need.

Alternatively, you may be treated and released at the scene. If this occurs, you should still see a doctor as soon as you can. Going to the ER is typically the best option. You don't have to make an appointment to be seen, and the doctors and staff have the equipment to perform a thorough assessment.

Seeking medical treatment promptly after a rear-end accident is important for two reasons. First, it creates an immediate record of the injuries you sustained in the collision. Second, catching certain injuries early is imperative. For example, a traumatic brain injury may present with few symptoms initially, but severe complications can develop without timely diagnosis and intervention.

2. Contact an Attorney

People who have never been in a rear-end accident before make two common mistakes when they think about hiring a lawyer:

  1. They assume their insurance will take care of everything.
  2. They believe that the driver in the back is always responsible for a rear-end collision.

The first assumption is, unfortunately, wishful thinking. Your car insurance will cover the cost of repairing or replacing your vehicle up to your policy limits (a lawyer can help with a property damage claim), but you will typically need to file a claim against the at-fault driver to recover compensation for medical expenses and other losses related to your injuries.

While the second assumption is generally true, this will not stop the insurance company for the driver who caused the accident from looking for a way not to pay you what your claim is worth. Common tactics an insurance adjuster may use to reduce or deny your claim include disputing liability for the accident, contesting the value of your damages, and more.

Hiring a car accident attorney is the best way to overcome these and other challenges. A lawyer can protect your rights, advise you of your options for pursuing compensation, calculate the damages in your case, and more.

3. Notify Your Insurance Company

Insurance companies require their insureds to report accidents in a timely fashion. The general time limit is 30 days after the accident, but you should check your insurance policy to make sure you meet any specific deadlines imposed by the carrier.

Depending on the circumstances, you may be able to file an uninsured/underinsured motorist claim if the at-fault driver's insurance doesn't cover all of your losses. Unfortunately, just because this is “your” insurance company does not mean that fair compensation is guaranteed. The insurance adjuster may still offer a low settlement or use other tactics to persuade you to act against your best interest.

When you are dealing with an insurance company – any insurance company – after a rear-end collision, it is best to have a car accident lawyer represent you. Attorneys know the tricks insurance companies use, and they will be able to preserve the integrity of your claim and negotiate for a more favorable settlement.

4. Get a Copy of the Police Report

By law, someone at the accident scene must contact the police if the crash resulted in injury, death, or $1,000 or more in property damage.

The police report officially documents a number of important details about the accident that can help you build a claim against the driver who rear-ended you. It is important to get a copy of the police report, either on your own or with the assistance of an attorney.

5. Keep All Medical Appointments

Recovering from a car accident can be a lengthy process. If you were seriously injured, you may need one or more surgeries, physical therapy, and other treatments performed by a multitude of providers.

The extensive appointments with doctors and other practitioners can be overwhelming. However, it is crucial to show up for each of your scheduled visits.

First and foremost, medical care for complex injuries often takes a staged approach, with incremental progress occurring through a continuum of treatments and therapies. Second, the insurance companies will use missed appointments as “proof” that your injuries are not as serious as you claim and argue that you are entitled to less in damages.

6. Document Your Life After the Accident

Compensation after a car accident can cover a wide range of losses. To recover the full extent of damages in your case, you and your lawyer will need to collect compelling evidence.

Some of the steps you can take to support your claim for damages include:

  • Keep all bills, explanation of benefits statements, and receipts related to medical care.
  • Gather recent pay stubs and other paperwork showing the money you would have earned had the accident not affected your ability to work.
  • Hold on to receipts for other expenses related to the accident, such as medical devices, household services, and travel expenses for doctors appointments.
  • Maintain a file of estimates or invoices for any modifications to your home or vehicle (such as the installation of a ramp).
  • Document your day-to-day symptoms, such as pain, impairment, difficulty sleeping, psychological issues, etc.

All of these items can serve as proof of the damages (economic and non-economic) you have suffered after being rear-ended. By sharing all paperwork and notes with your car accident attorney, you will be able to make a strong claim for compensation.

What Are the Most Common Causes of Rear End Collisions?

The most frequent causes of rear end car accidents include:

  • Tailgating: Following too closely behind another vehicle, leaving insufficient space to stop safely if the lead vehicle brakes suddenly.
  • Distracted driving: Engaging in activities that take the driver's attention away from the road, such as using a phone, eating, or adjusting the radio.
  • Speeding: Driving too fast reduces the time available to react to changes in traffic and increases the distance needed to stop safely.
  • Sudden stops: When the lead vehicle stops abruptly, the following vehicle may not have enough time to react and stop, especially if they are tailgating or distracted.
  • Poor weather conditions: Slippery roads due to rain, snow, or ice can increase stopping distances and make it harder to control the vehicle.
  • Fatigued driving: Drowsy drivers have slower reaction times and may not notice traffic changes ahead of them.
  • Impaired driving: Driving under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or certain medications can impair judgment, reaction time, and coordination.
  • Mechanical issues: Faulty brakes, worn tires, or other vehicle maintenance problems can contribute to rear-end collisions.
  • Road rage or aggressive driving: Drivers who are aggressively changing lanes, cutting off other vehicles, or engaging in other risky behaviors are more likely to cause accidents.

To prevent rear-end collisions, drivers should maintain a safe following distance, avoid distractions, adjust their speed to weather conditions, and ensure their vehicle is properly maintained.

Rear End Collisions Can Cause Serious Injuries

Rear-end collisions can result in serious injuries, even at relatively low speeds. Some common car accident injuries from rear-end collisions include:

  • Whiplash - The sudden, forceful back-and-forth motion of the head and neck can cause soft tissue damage, leading to neck pain, stiffness, and headaches.
  • Back injuries - The impact can cause herniated discs, spinal cord damage, or other back injuries, leading to chronic pain and mobility issues.
  • Traumatic brain injuries (TBI) - If the head strikes an object or is violently jolted, it can cause concussions or more severe brain injuries.
  • Facial injuries - Hitting the steering wheel, dashboard, or airbag can cause facial lacerations, fractures, or dental injuries.
  • Broken bones - The force of the collision can cause fractures, particularly in the arms, wrists, or legs.
  • Shoulder injuries - The shoulder belt or impact can cause shoulder sprains, strains, or rotator cuff tears.
  • Psychological trauma - The sudden, frightening nature of the accident can lead to emotional distress, anxiety, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

The severity of injuries often depends on factors such as the speed of the vehicles, the size and weight of the vehicles involved, and whether the occupants were wearing seat belts. Even seemingly minor rear-end collisions can cause significant injuries, so it is essential to seek medical attention after any car accident. Additionally, working with an experienced personal injury attorney can help victims pursue compensation for their medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

What Types of Compensation Can You Receive from a Car Accident Claim?

When filing a car accident claim, several types of compensation may be available depending on the specifics of your case and the laws of your jurisdiction. Here are some common types of compensation:

Medical Costs

Compensation for current and future medical bills related to injuries sustained in the accident, including hospitalization, surgery, medication, and therapy.

Lost Income

Reimbursement for income lost due to time off work while recovering from accident-related injuries.

Loss of Earning Capacity

Compensation for the impact of the accident on your ability to earn income in the future, if your injuries result in a disability or limitations.

Property Damage

Compensation to repair or replace your vehicle and any other personal property damaged in the accident.

Pain and Suffering

Compensation for the physical pain and emotional distress caused by the accident and resulting injuries.

Loss of Enjoyment of Life

Compensation for the negative impact of the accident on your ability to participate in hobbies, activities, and other aspects of life you previously enjoyed.

Loss of Consortium

Compensation for the impact of the accident on your relationship with your spouse, such as loss of companionship or intimacy.

It's essential to consult with an experienced personal injury attorney to help assess your case, identify the types of compensation available, and pursue the best possible outcome for your claim.

How Much Compensation Can I Receive?

The compensation you can receive for a rear-end collision varies depending on several factors, and there's no way of estimating how much your car accident claim is worth without a thorough assessment from an experienced personal injury attorney. Depending on the specifics of your case, compensation can range from a few thousand dollars for minor injuries and property damage to hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars for severe, life-altering injuries.

To get a more accurate estimate of your potential compensation, consult with a personal injury attorney who can evaluate your case's unique circumstances.

What’s the Process of Obtaining Compensation from the At-Fault Driver?

The process of obtaining compensation from the at-fault driver after a rear-end collision typically involves contacting the other driver's insurance company to initiate a claim. You can work with an attorney to provide them with the evidence you've gathered and details of your injuries and damages.

The insurance company will investigate the claim and offer a settlement. Review the offer carefully with a personal injury attorney to ensure it adequately covers your damages. Your attorney can negotiate for a higher settlement if necessary.

If the insurance company denies your claim or offers an unsatisfactory settlement, your lawyer may need to file a lawsuit to pursue compensation. An attorney can file all the necessary paperwork for you and represent you in court. 

Most car accident cases settle before going to trial. However, if a settlement cannot be reached, your case may proceed to court, where a judge or jury will determine the compensation you receive.

Throughout the process, it's essential to follow the steps outlined above and document all expenses and losses related to the accident. Avoid signing any agreements or accepting settlements without consulting an attorney. Be prepared for the process to take several months or longer, depending on the case's complexity

A personal injury attorney can handle communication with insurance companies, negotiate on your behalf, and protect your rights throughout the process.

Contact a Car Accident Lawyer If You Were Rear-Ended

Rear-end collisions are common, but no two cases are exactly alike. If another driver hit you from behind, causing serious injuries, you should not have to bear the costs by yourself.

The Flood Law Firm has extensive experience holding careless drivers accountable for the accidents they cause. Our attorneys often recover compensation many times greater than the initial offers from insurance companies; our results speak for themselves.

Please call The Flood Law Firm at (860) 346-2695 today for a free case evaluation. Our car accident lawyers serve clients in Middletown, Danbury, Bridgeport, Waterbury, and all of Connecticut.

Brian Flood


Brian has dedicated his entire legal career to helping accident victims. By choice, he has never represented the interests of an insurance company.

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