Rear-end car accidents are often considered minor, despite how common they are on the congested roads around Seattle. But this complacency surrounding rear-end collisions often makes drivers and passengers dismiss their injuries, which can put them at risk of suffering further damage. If you were injured by another driver in a rear-end collision, it is important to follow these key steps to ensure you can receive full compensation for your trauma.
How to Respond After an Accident
While the immediate aftermath of a rear-end collision can be confusing, there is a standard procedure you should follow after any accident. For one, many of these steps can help you receive proper treatment for your injuries and maximize the amount of compensation you can recover in a claim. In addition, some steps are legal requirements in the state of Washington. These steps can also help you if it has been a few days since the collision, and you wish to file an auto accident claim.
- Exchange Information: If you are not seriously injured and are able to, you should speak to the other driver and exchange insurance information. Make sure to write down or take a photo of their insurance card so that you can file a claim afterward. Exchanging insurance information is also required by Washington state law. (It would not hurt to take a photo of their driver’s license as well, if you can.)
- Report Your Accident to the Police: In addition to exchanging information, you are also legally required to contact the police, even if you were not at-fault for the accident. Contacting the police can also ensure that you receive timely medical attention from paramedics. When talking to the police, it is important to not point fingers or make accusations. Instead, only state facts so that the officer can draft an objective report. You can receive a copy after it is filed with the local police department, typically within one to two weeks.
- Collect Witness Statements: It can be difficult to determine how an accident occurred as a driver or passenger, even in something as simple as a rear-end collision, which is why you should collect the contact information of any witnesses. Make sure to write down their names, phone numbers, and email addresses to share with your attorney, who can collect their statements at a later date.
- Take Photos of the Accident Scene: Police officers often face pressure to clear an accident scene as soon as possible, especially at heavily trafficked intersections. This can mean losing vital evidence; but taking photos can help preserve useful information. Make sure to take as many photos as possible in good lighting and with large resolution. You will want to take photos of all vehicles involved, the road, tire marks, street signs, and your injuries.
- Seek Medical Attention: Even if you think your injuries are minor, it is important to have your condition reviewed by a medical professional. An emergency room is your best option, but if it has been a few days since your accident, you should still visit your primary care physician, especially if you are experiencing any pain, discomfort, or mobility issues. A doctor can determine how serious your trauma is and develop a detailed treatment plan to help you recover. Receiving medical care also demonstrates your commitment to healing after a collision to an insurance company or jury.
- Review Your Insurance Information: While you will likely be filing a claim against the other driver’s insurance, you should also review your own policy. If you have PIP coverage, then you can receive immediate, no-fault compensation for your medical bills. In addition, if you have UM/UIM coverage, it could prove incredibly helpful if the other driver does not have insurance or only has a minimum policy limit.
- Contact an Attorney: Before contacting an insurance company, it is important to understand your legal rights during the claims process. Even in seemingly minor accidents, insurance companies will attempt to minimize or deny coverage. Instead of haggling with an insurance adjuster, your best option is to contact an attorney. At Pendergast Law, we provide free consultations to anyone injured in an accident where we can explain how you can receive compensation for your injuries. We also work on a contingency-fee basis, meaning you do not have to pay us a single cent unless we win your case.
- Catalog Your Injuries: Your medical records will largely support your claim, but you can also keep a journal or detailed file to document your injuries. You should include any issues you have with sleeping, performing basic tasks, enjoying your hobbies, and going to work. If you have any pain, you should include a daily record of where you are experiencing it and rank it on a scale from one to ten, with one being no pain and ten being extremely painful. This journal can demonstrate the personal impact of a rear-end accident, which can be included in your claim.
- Stay Off Social Media: We understand the temptation to post your accident on social media, but your best option is to go silent and even consider making your accounts private until your claim is settled. Insurance companies often comb through accident victim’s social media accounts to find evidence that they are not as injured as they claim to be. Even a casual photo of you at breakfast with friends can be used against you. Instead, let your friends and family know that you are taking a break and stay offline for the duration of your claim.
There are also other steps your attorney can advise you of during a consultation, but these are the main ones that we suggest to help you receive compensation after a rear-end collision.
What If My Accident Involved Multiple Vehicles?
In the majority of two-vehicle rear-end collisions, the driver in the back will be found at fault, but it can become more complicated when more vehicles are involved. For example, if one driver rear-ended you and forced your vehicle to collide with the car in front of you, liability may be split between you and the rear driver. However, depending on the speed of the rear vehicle and how congested traffic was, the amount of liability applied to you may vary. This should not affect your decision to file a claim for your own injuries and vehicle damage.
Speak to an Attorney Today
Most people involved in rear-end collisions do not want to deal with insurance companies or the claims process, but it is important to understand your rights after an accident. Rear-end accidents can lead to catastrophic trauma, ranging from head injuries to herniated discs to broken bones, and you should never dismiss your injuries. In many cases, you may end up being burdened with expensive medical bills that you should not have to pay out-of-pocket.
Instead, you should work with a Seattle car accident attorney at Pendergast Law. With over 40 years of experience, we can provide the strong legal representation you need to recover compensation for your injuries. Our lead attorney, Mr. Pendergast, is a member of both the Million and Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum. While 90% of the time, we can settle your case without having to go to court, we are experienced trial attorneys and can represent you in front of a judge and jury. To get started on your claim, call us toll-free at 888-539-9211 to schedule a free consultation.