Rear-end collisions are the most common form of injury crash in California. According to the California Highway Patrol (CHP), rear-end collisions represent over 41% of California traffic crashes that cause an injury.
Do you know what to do if someone rear-ends you? Here are a few tips for handling a rear-end collision.
At the Accident Scene
California imposes several legal duties on you after a car accident. You may jeopardize your injury compensation claim if you fail to satisfy these duties.
California law tells you what to do if someone rear-ends you and causes an injury. You must stop at or near the accident scene. Find an accident pullout if you cannot stop on the shoulder.
California imposes harsh penalties for not stopping after an accident, even for the victim. A hit-and-run with minor injuries could land you in jail for up to one year. If the accident causes death or serious injury, a judge could sentence you to prison for up to four years.
Whether you caused the accident or not, you must render assistance to anyone else injured in the accident. You may need to administer first aid and call an ambulance. If you cannot get an ambulance, you must transport the injured person to a doctor or hospital.
You must provide information to the other drivers involved in the accident, including:
- Your name and address
- The names and addresses of injured passengers
- The vehicle registration number
- The name and address of the vehicle owner
The other drivers involved in the accident must also share this information with you. Make sure you keep this information since you may need it to file an injury claim.
Call the Police
California gives you 24 hours to report accidents involving an injury or death to the police. But in most cases, you should report an injury accident immediately.
The investigating officers will usually produce a collision report after completing the investigation. This crash report will help you make your injury claim.
It will explain what happened, the injuries you reported to the police, and the citations issued after the accident. It will also include the insurance information for all drivers involved in the accident.
You can get a copy of your collision report from the law enforcement agency that responded to your accident. CHP, the San Diego Police Department, and most other police departments have a website with instructions for how to get your collision report.
Before You Leave the Accident Scene
You can take a few optional steps at the accident scene to ensure your health and the viability of your injury case. Here are the most important steps to follow before you leave the scene of the accident:
Ask for Help
What to do if someone rear ends you and you get hurt? If you feel injured, do not keep it to yourself. Some major injuries can start with minor symptoms. For example, a concussion often starts with nothing more than a headache. But as your brain swells, you could suffer major physical, cognitive, and emotional symptoms.
If you need medical attention, call 911 or ask the other driver to call 911. If no EMTs respond, tell the investigating officer about injuries you suffered. The officer will call for EMTs and include a list of your injuries in the accident report.
This will ensure you get the help you need, while also documenting your injuries for your injury claim.
Document the Accident Scene
If your medical condition allows it, take pictures of the accident scene. Try to get pictures of the damage to all vehicles involved.
You should make sure you walk around to the back of your vehicle and take pictures of:
- Your vehicle’s rear end
- The other vehicle’s front end
- The road where you got hit
The fault for rear-end collisions usually falls on the person in the rear vehicle. These pictures will show the extent of the damage and whether the other driver braked before hitting you.
After the Rear-End Accident
You should seek medical attention after you get hit in a rear-end collision.
When you get hit from behind, your head will bend your spine backward and hyperextend it. As you swing forward, your head will again hyperextend your spine. This hyperextension of your spine and the resulting compression when you come to a stop will often cause whiplash.
Whiplash can injure your back muscles. It can fracture vertebrae and crush discs. It can even cause your spinal cord to become pinched. Concussions can also result from the whiplash motion, even if you do not hit your head.
A doctor can diagnose your injuries and prescribe a course of treatment. This will help you document your injuries and damages for your injury claim.
Talk to an Accident Lawyer
California uses a fault-based insurance system. To get injury compensation, you must file an insurance claim with the at-fault driver’s insurer.
Even though the case for compensation seems clear for rear-end collisions, insurers have a financial incentive to fight your claim. Without an accident lawyer, you might end up with no compensation or an unfair settlement.
Hiring a lawyer and knowing what to do if someone rear-ends you can improve your chances of getting fair injury compensation.
To discuss your rear-end collision and the compensation you can seek, contact Pines Salomon Injury Lawyers, APC for a free consultation.
Since 1992, our personal injury attorneys at the Pines Salomon Injury Lawyers, APC. have been fighting for the people of San Diego. Now, when those injured in automobile accidents – including car, truck, and motorcycle accidents – need financial help, or for the families that need to know that the loss of a loved one could have been prevented, there is a personal injury law firm in San Diego that is on their side. If you or a family member has been injured, call the lawyers at Pines Salomon Injury Lawyers, APC. There’s never been a better time than right now to speak to a personal injury attorney—FREE of charge. Call us at 858-551-2090 or request a free consultation online today!
SENIOR PERSONAL INJURY ATTORNEY & FIRM FOUNDER
Michael Pines is a former insurance company attorney who graduated from the University of California Hastings College of the Law in 1987. While he was an insurance attorney, he learned from behind the scenes how insurance companies work and how they decide how much to pay injured people. Now that he works against insurance companies, Michael’s inside knowledge has resulted in significant benefits to his clients injured in car accidents. Learn more about Michael Pines