Rear-end collisions are among the most common kinds of auto accidents. You're sitting at an intersection or stuck in stop-and-go traffic, minding your own business. The next thing you know: you hear a horribly loud noise, as someone slams into you from behind. Your car gets violently shoved forward, and if the accident is severe enough, one or more of your airbags may deploy.
I got rear ended: What should I do?
If you're involved in a rear-end collision, don't panic. Instead, take a deep breath, remain calm, and then do the following.
Check for injuries.
Always check to see if anyone is hurt, even in minor rear-end fender benderscollisions. Even when properly buckled up, you can still suffer whiplash and other internal injuries from the force of the collision. Check yourself first and then any passengers in your car. If you are safely able to, check the occupants of the other vehicle. If anyone is hurt, determine the severity of the injury and call for medical assistance, if necessary.
Call the police to report the accident.
Even if the damage from the rear-end collision is minor, call the police. They are the ones who provide a written accident report, which is important because it documents when, where, and how the accident happened. Connecticut law requires the police to be notified in cases where there is an injury or if a certain dollar amount of property damage is exceeded.
If the other driver is at fault, the police report may help validate your insurance claim for damages to your vehicle. More important, you may not realize you have an injury until a day or two after the accident. The accident report is also essential to substantiate other claims. So, you should always make sure you get a copy of the report.
Document the scene of the accident.
The best way to document the scene of the accident is to take photos or video with your phone. However, it's also important to describe the accident in written form — what you were doing when the other driver hit you and how it occurred. It's essential to do this as soon as possible. If there are any independent witnesses around, get their name and information. They can be crucial to understanding what happened.
Exchange information with the other driver.
Here's where staying cool and calm helps. It's a lot easier to exchange contact information in a friendly manner, especially if you're angry at the other driver for smashing into you from behind. Be sure to get the following information (at least):
- Name of the driver
- Address and phone number
- Driver's license number
- Year, make, model and license plate number
- Owner of the vehicle
- Insurance info
Contact your insurance company.
Both insurance companies should be notified after the accident, especially if someone is injured. However, your job is to contact your insurance company and let them get in touch with the other driver's carrier. Be prepared to present your carrier with the police report (if available), photos or videos, and your written description.
How do I know if I'm at fault in a rear-end collision?
Confer with your insurance company who will gather information to make the determination.
The written accident report provided by a police officer can also be used to help an insurance company establish who is at fault.
Tips for Avoiding Rear-End Collisions
The best way to avoid rear-end collisions is to keep a safe zone in front and back of your car at all times. To create a “space cushion” for safety, you should:
- Follow at a safe distance while driving. The general rule of thumb is one car length for every 10 mph. Increase this distance when driving on slippery roads.
- Don't stop too close to the car in front of you at an intersection or stop sign. Leave a safety zone to minimize the impact in case a car from behind pushes you into the car in front.
- Avoid distracted driving.
- Stay alert for slowing traffic ahead of the car directly in front of you.
- Avoid hard braking. Instead, slow to a stop at stop signs and stoplights.
- Regularly check your brake lights and turn signals to make sure they're working.