What to Do After You’ve Been Rear-Ended
When You’re in an Auto Accident, What You Do Next Matters
Nobody plans on being in an auto accident. However, in the adrenaline of the moment, it’s easy to panic. That’s understandable! After all, car crashes are traumatic and stressful events. Even minor collisions can come with unexpected car damage and injuries that may not show symptoms until later.
Unfortunately, insurance companies aren’t always sympathetic. From the moment you file an insurance claim, they’re often under pressure to resolve your case as quickly and cheaply as possible.
Knowing what to do after you’ve been rear-ended—and why it’s important—can make a huge difference in both the momentum of your claim and the size of the settlement you receive. If you’re ever rear-ended, or caught in a car crash, automotive accident, or collision, here’s what you should keep in mind.
After Getting Rear-Ended, Immediately Pull Off to a Safe Location
Regardless of where your accident occurs, your first priority should be getting to safety. It doesn’t matter if you’re driving at 15 mph along a suburban road or driving along Interstate 20, 75, 85, Georgia 400, or even the perimeter I-285.
After you’ve been rear-ended, pull off to the side of the road as soon as it is safe. Take a deep breath and try to remain calm. Assess the situation to make sure that nobody in the car is visibly injured or in need of medical attention.
Remaining in traffic, especially along a busy Atlanta road, can cause traffic jams or further accidents.
You Need to Call the Police 🚨
After an auto accident, Georgia law requires victims to call the police if any of the following conditions are present:
- More than $500 of damage has occurred to either vehicle.
- Someone is visibly injured.
- Someone died.
Estimating the amount of damage done to your car can be challenging, and it’s always possible it has suffered further damage you’re not aware of yet. To this end, it’s a good idea to notify the police after getting rear-ended immediately.
Reporting an Atlanta car accident to the police is also a valuable asset when filing your insurance claim. Having police on the scene creates documentation that an accident occurred, which can be vital if the accident occurs on private property.
Calling the police can also be vital if you suspect the other driver is legally intoxicated. Police officers are trained to deal with drunk drivers and ensure any potential intoxication on the other driver’s part is factored into the police report. It is worth noting that a drunk driver’s arrest or prosecution will not automatically provide compensation for your damages, injuries, or losses. You will still need to file an auto accident claim.
Gather Information 🖊
As soon as you step out of the car, you should assume everything you do will affect your auto accident insurance claim. While this may sound intimidating, remember this presents you an opportunity to resolve things quickly and effectively to save yourself headaches further down the road.
If the other driver was clearly at fault, they are responsible for reporting the accident to their insurance provider. You shouldn’t always assume they will take care of things, however, and it’s important to make sure your sequence of events is represented. Taking a moment to write down a few notes about what happened and what you remember can serve you well in the future.
After, approach the other driver and calmly request the following information:
- Contact information from the other driver and anyone in their car, including name(s), address, and a phone number where you can reach them.
- The insurance policy number of the other driver along with the name of their insurer.
- If there are other drivers or pedestrians, it is helpful to collect witness statements. Your goal with a witness statement is to collect an objective narrative of the events before, during, and after the accident.
- Photograph the scene, ensuring you get the license plates of every car involved. Photos are valuable to submit when you are filing an insurance claim after being rear-ended.
Seek Medical Attention 🚑
Even if you do not feel injured, getting medical attention after a rear-end collision in Atlanta is essential. As noted above, there is always the possibility you’ve suffered injuries that won’t manifest symptoms until days or weeks later. By getting medical attention early, you increase your chances of catching any serious or long-term injuries earlier and giving yourself a better trajectory for recovery.
Having any potential injuries documented is also crucial for your claim. Insurance companies can often employ all sorts of tactics to avoid covering medical expenses, and they’re notoriously reluctant to address potentially debilitating or long-term injuries. By having your medical expenses documented and inventoried by a medical professional, you increase your chances of getting offered a fair settlement.
File an Auto Accident Insurance Claim
Georgia automotive law follows a “fault” system, which means the at-fault driver is responsible for any personal injury or property damage during a car accident. It also means insurance will look at the at-fault driver’s insurance policy first to cover any recovery costs for the parties involved.
If the other driver was at-fault, this means you will likely be resolving your claim through their insurance provider. While the at-fault driver is expected to make a claim on their own, it can be beneficial to contact their insurance yourself. This is sometimes known as a “third-party claim.”
When dealing with insurance companies, be prepared to use all the information you gathered after the accident. Witness statements, photographs, police reports, and medical documentation can all affect your settlement.
Talk with a Personal Injury Attorney,
What happens next can vary greatly. Your insurance may offer you an appropriate settlement for covering the cost of your recovery. If so, great! Unfortunately, insurance companies often try to avoid paying fair compensation, and they will continuously be pressuring you to settle for whatever number they first offer.
If you’re offered a settlement too small to cover your recovery costs and the damages to your vehicle, you should talk to an experienced personal injury attorney immediately. Having a professional on your side evens the playing field and gives you a much higher chance of getting the settlement you deserve.
Michael M. Day Law Firm has represented more than 5,000 personal injury, auto accident, and drunk driving victims. With a 99% success rate, we fight tirelessly to get their clients the settlements they deserve! We represent clients across Georgia, including Atlanta and Savannah. Contact us today and see how we can make a difference in your personal injury case.