Rear-end collisions are frustrating. You can be sitting in your car at a red light, minding your own business and listening to your favorite true crime podcast when, suddenly, you feel a shocking jolt as another vehicle smashes into your trunk. So much for getting to work on time.
It’s important to know what to do after being rear-ended to protect yourself and your ability to seek compensation in the event of a personal injury claim.
At the Scene of the Accident
The first and most important thing to do immediately after an accident is to assess the need for medical attention and call for help if anyone is injured. Remain calm and check yourself and passengers for signs of physical trauma. If possible, move your vehicle to a safe space out of the way of traffic to avoid further accidents. Stay at the scene and call 911.
Required Legal Actions
Once you know you are out of immediate danger, New Jersey law requires drivers to take certain actions after a crash.
Report the accident
You must report the accident to the local police if the accident involves:
- Death, or
- Property damage in excess of $500.
It is important to call the police to document the accident even if it is not severe enough to make reporting mandatory. The police will write down important information, such as who was involved, the conditions of the road, and what they believe caused the collision. You can submit this report as evidence to support a personal injury or insurance claim.
New Jersey law mandates drivers involved in an accident to exchange information for reporting and insurance claim purposes. The law requires you to exchange:
- Contact information,
- Proof of driver’s license, and
- Proof of vehicle registration.
You should also exchange your insurance policy information. You must remain at the scene of the accident until all parties have finished exchanging information or until a police officer informs you you are free to leave.
Document the Scene
The more information you can gather about the collision, the more evidence you will have to support a claim for damages. Take pictures of details such as:
- Weather conditions,
- Road conditions,
- Vehicle damage,
- Skid marks,
- Tire tread,
- Injuries, and
- Location of the vehicles.
Write down statements from witnesses along with their names and contact information. Write down facts about the other vehicle such as the license plate number and the manufacturer’s model.
After Leaving the Scene
After the police officer gives you permission to leave and you arrive home, there are more steps you can take to put the rear-end collision in your rearview mirror.
Make an Insurance Claim
Contact your insurance agent as soon as possible to inform them you’ve been in an accident. Provide them with all the documents and information you gathered while at the scene.
Get a Vehicle Damages Estimate
Your insurance company will most likely give you an estimated dollar amount of your vehicle’s damage. However, it is a good idea to get multiple opinions from trusted mechanics.
Visit Your Doctor
Rear-end collision injuries are not always immediately obvious. The initial shock may temporarily stop you from feeling any pain. It’s important to have your doctor investigate any potential internal injuries right away. Even if you don’t think the accident was serious, you may still develop pain and soreness later on. Your doctor should document all your symptoms in as much detail as possible.
Understand Your Rights
One of the most beneficial steps to take after being rear-ended is to speak with a personal injury attorney. If you are the victim of a rear-end collision, the at-fault driver may need to financially compensate you for any injuries or property damage. An attorney can help you understand what compensation you may be legally entitled to and advise you on the best course of action to get justice. Find a lawyer who knows the ins and outs of New Jersey negligence law and has a proven record for successful claims recovery.
Causes of Rear-End Collisions
An infuriating fact about rear-end collisions is that they are often caused by distracted drivers. It is not unusual to see drivers on their phones, doing their makeup, or using both hands to devour a burrito while behind the wheel. Unfortunately, this type of negligent driving behavior can have serious consequences for others sharing the road. Speaking with an experienced attorney can help you understand how a driver’s inattention can impact damages in a personal injury claim.
Get the Answers You Need
Knowing the steps to take after being rear-ended is only part of the battle. You need a team with experience fighting for their clients through insurance negotiations and court trials. At Glugeth & Pierguidi, P.C., we’ve recovered over $100 million on behalf of injured clients. We treat our clients as members of our family and take pride in our commitment to seeing them through tough times. Schedule your free consultation to learn more about our aggressive strategies for seeking the maximum possible compensation.