Rear-end collisions can happen to anyone. They are usually caused by a driver who is either distracted or following too closely, and they can result in significant damage. As a result, you must take the following steps in the days that follow your accident.
Determine How to Seek Medical Treatment
The first thing you should do after a rear-end collision is to seek medical treatment, even if you feel fine. There are two reasons for this.
This first is to make sure that you are not hurt. Rear-end crashes often result in significant injuries because you have not had a chance to brace for impact. Getting checked out by a medical professional makes sure that you haven’t experienced any trauma that may not be so obvious in the hours after the crash.
The second reason is that if you wait too long to seek medical treatment, there is a good chance that it will be difficult to prove that your injuries were caused by the accident, which could ultimately hurt your case if you have one.
If you are worried about how your medical bills will be paid, that is a valid concern. If your crash happened in Florida, be aware that Florida is known as a no-fault state. That means that regardless of who is at fault (in many rear-end crashes, fault is clear), your OWN auto insurance will pay 80% of medical bills up to $10,000. This insurance is called Personal Injury Protection, or PIP, and it is required on ALL auto insurance policies in Florida.
However, to utilize PIP, you must be diagnosed with an Emergency Medical Condition (EMC) within 14 days of the accident. According to Florida Statute § 627.732, an EMC is defined as the following: A medical condition manifesting itself by acute symptoms of sufficient severity, which may include severe pain, such that the absence of immediate medical attention could reasonably be expected to result in any of the following:
- Serious jeopardy to patient health.
- Serious impairment to bodily functions.
- Serious dysfunction of any bodily organ or part.
Some examples of an Emergency Medical Condition could be any of the following:
- Concussion or other brain injury
- Broken bones
- Trauma to the body
- Internal damage
- Visible wounds
However, only a medical professional can diagnose you with an EMC, and EMCs are NOT limited to the above injuries! Therefore, it is important to go to a hospital, urgent care, or other medical facility right away so a professional can determine whether or not you have an Emergency Medical Condition.
Call an Attorney
The next step you should take is to call your attorney. Most attorneys offer a free consultation for rear-end accidents, so take advantage of it.
Consulting with an attorney experienced in handling rear-end crashes will help ensure your rights are protected before you speak with any insurance company, whether it is yours or the other driver’s. Even if you wish to proceed without a lawyer, he or she can guide you on how to handle the process.
This is why you should speak with an attorney before you call either insurance company.
If you have already spoken with the insurance company, be sure to tell the attorney when you speak with him or her. Be as specific as you can in terms of what questions the insurance company asked you and how you responded. An experienced lawyer will guide you on how best to move forward.
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Document All Damage to Yourself and Your Vehicle
It is essential to document all damage done. Take as many pictures as necessary to capture all of the damage in detail.
This does not just include the damage to your car. Take pictures of all of your injuries as well including any bruising, wounds, scratches, broken bones, etc., no matter how minor they may appear at the time.
In addition, keep all medical records and bills related to your injuries. This documentation will help you build a strong case and get the compensation you deserve.
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Fix Your Vehicle
While you may need to take a day or two off of work, you will eventually have to return to your daily responsibilities and will likely need a car to do so. At this point, once everything has been documented, you are free to bring your car in to be fixed.
Whether you should call your insurance company or the other driver’s insurance company should be discussed with your attorney. Typically, the at-fault driver’s company is responsible for repairing your vehicle or issuing a check if your car is totaled. If it is determined to call the other driver’s insurance company, request to open a property damage claim only. Do not discuss any injuries without the involvement of your attorney. Additionally, if you do receive a check, consult with your attorney to ensure the check strictly covers your vehicle and NOT your injuries.
Determine if You Have a Case
At this point, you should be clear about whether or not you have a case worth pursuing and your attorney should be taking the next steps necessary to protect and fight for your rights.
At The Ruth Law Team, our attorneys have years of experience dealing with rear-end collision cases and can help you navigate the legal process. We will work hard to get you the compensation you deserve for your medical bills, lost wages, property damage, and pain and suffering.
In conclusion, if you have been rear-ended by another car, it is crucial to follow these steps to protect your rights and get the compensation you deserve. When you are ready to speak with an attorney, contact the experienced rear-end accident lawyers at The Ruth Law Team to schedule a free consultation today.