What to do after a Rear End Car or Truck Accident
Written by greg on July 9, 2018
Rear end car and truck accidents happen every single day in Houston, Texas. The collision can occur while you are stopped at a red light or stop sign or even when traffic slows due to congestion on the highway. Rear-end accidents are the most common car accident.
Generally, the operator of the vehicle that hit you in the rear will be at fault for causing the crash. There are, however, exceptions to that general rule and there are always two sides to a story. Dealing with the aftermath of being struck in the rear can be overwhelming if you do not know what to do. I hope the following information will give you some guidance on how to best proceed.
The First Steps After an Auto Collision When it is Not Your Fault.
If the accident is not your fault taking specific steps can help document the collision, and also protects your financial interests if you make a claim against the other party.
Right After the Accident
If you are injured, making sure you get immediate medical assistance should be your priority. If you are able, checking on others in your car and the other vehicles involved in the crash to make sure those who need medical help can get it. If someone is injured, do not move the injured person unless you have no alternative to keep them safe.
Necessary Information to Get at the Scene
If the driver who struck you in the rear is definitely at fault for the accident, you will want to make sure you get information from them regarding their insurance coverage and driver’s license. Many folks make the mistaken assumption that merely because it’s the other person’s fault, they will handle contacting their insurance company and be honest about the situation. Getting the information upfront can save many headaches later on in dealing with a claim.
The following is the minimum information you should get at the scene if you are able:
- A photograph of the insurance card for the other driver
- A photo of the other driver’s license
- The telephone number of the other driver
- The name and phone number of any witness to the collision
- Photographs of the vehicles resting position and damage
Call the Police
If the accident is more than the fender bender contacting the police to document the crash with the report can save hours of time dealing with an adverse insurance company. The truth is that accidents without a crash report are much more challenging to settle reasonably than those documenting the crash and showing fault. Individual portions of the police report will be admissible in a court of law, and other parts may not be. If the accident is substantial, calling the police should always be done.
At the Hospital
If you are transported by ambulance to the hospital or if you otherwise go to the hospital after the accident you should communicate every area of injury even though some areas may be worse than others. Often, we focus on where the pain is the worst, and it masks pain in other parts of our body. Sometimes, areas that don’t hurt on the day of the crash turned out to be chronic injuries.
People should understand that hospital emergency rooms are for treating emergencies. If your injury is not life-threatening or requires immediate surgery, most likely you will be discharged with instructions to follow up with another doctor. Being released from the hospital does not mean you are okay.
If you don’t go to the hospital but have pain that does not go away in a day or two, you should seek medical treatment and get whatever testing is necessary for your injuries. Toughing it out is something that we frequently see from car accident victims and it not only hurts their recovery, but it damages their legal claim.
The longer you wait for the necessary treatment, the more defense you are giving to the insurance company for the other driver.
Following your Physicians Orders
You should follow your doctor’s orders to the letter. Following your doctor’s advice not only protects your health but it defends your potential claim.
When necessary, obtain more sophisticated testing such as CT scans or MRIs to help diagnose your medical situation.
Documenting your out-of-pocket expenses and also your lost wages will save time should you make a claim against the other driver.
Dealing with the Property Damage
Dealing with an adverse insurance company regarding the property damage claim can be a harrowing situation. If the other insurance company has “accepted responsibility” and your car can be repaired, it is often best to choose the repair shop you trust and let them deal directly with the adverse insurance company regarding paying for the repairs.
If you get in the middle between the repair shop and the adverse insurance company, you are in a spot you don’t want to be.
If your vehicle is a total loss, immediately research the fair market value of your car and be prepared with a number when discussing the property damage claim with the insurance company.
In Texas, the measure of damage for a total loss is the fair market value of the vehicle on the date of the crash plus tax title and license fees. The insurance carriers do not care if you are upside down financing wise on the vehicle.
Likewise, it is not the insurance company’s problem if you feel you cannot replace your vehicle with the comparable one. All that the insurance company must pay in Texas is what the cars worth on the day of the crash plus the tax and license fees.
Sometimes it is a better choice to deal directly with your own insurance company regarding the property damage and let your insurance company collect their money back from the other driver’s insurance company. While many people don’t want to go this route due to worries about their insurance rates, often it is the best choice to make.
Factors to Know on Making a Liability Claim
Most of the time with rear-end car or trucking accidents, the insurer for the driver who struck you from the rear will fix your vehicle or pay its fair market value. Sometimes, however, the insurance company may hire a lawyer and come up with a defense giving them excuses not to spend. Insurance companies in Texas do not owe duties to their non-policyholders or non-insureds. With an adverse insurance company, it is not about what is fair; rather it is about what must they pay. If an insurance company can keep their money or delay a claim you can bet that’s what they will try to do.
There are Factors Everyone Making an Injury Claim Should Know:
- Quick settlements are almost always cheap settlements.
- Do not consider settling the injury portion of the claim while you are still being treated medically.
- How the vehicles look damage wise matters in the personal injury claim.
- Reasonable settlements take more time than you think.
- A lawsuit is often necessary to obtain a fair settlement offer from the insurance company.
- Health insurance companies will want to be paid back for what they have paid out.
A standard operating procedure for many insurance companies after a rear-end crash they know they are legally responsible for the damages is to reach out early with a lowball offer.
This can be a situation where the insurance company “estimates” your future medical expenses while you are being treated and offers a minimum value for your pain-and-suffering. Quick settlements cheap works well for the insurance company and saves them much money because it shifts the risk of loss from the insurance company to the victim. Be aware, that if you agree to a settlement and your injuries are more substantial than you think they are, you are out of luck.
The amount of property damage is a factor that insurance companies consider when making offers of settlement on injury claims. If your vehicle is slightly damaged, the most likely scenario is that the insurance company will treat your claim as a “nuisance claim” even when the injury is significant.
One of the essential factors in documenting the scenes is getting photographs of the damage of the vehicles to show to the insurance company and potentially a jury how about the impact was. If the impact does not look bad on the vehicles, it will be a fight for a reasonable settlement.
Get a Lawyer to Evaluate your Rear-End Accident Injury Claim.
The more severe your injury, the more likely it is you will need an experienced accident attorney to help you through the process. Whether it is dealing with the adverse insurance carrier, liability issues or the payback for health insurance or hospital liens, attorneys often necessary to advance a claim.
Attorneys will evaluate your claim at no cost to you when they handle cases on a contingency fee basis. The attorney might not elect to represent you, but they can still give you essential and valuable guidance. If you will hire an attorney to help you through the process, always investigate the attorney to make sure that they are personal injury lawyers and are competent to handle the case you have. Always look first for an attorney in the city where the crash took place.