A harsh squeal of brakes. The smell of burnt rubber. The crunch and bang of twisted metal. From fender benders to pile ups, getting rear-ended is unfortunately a common driving risk. Do you know what five things you should do immediately after getting rear-ended? Commit these to memory to minimize stress at the scene and alleviate potential future problems.
1. If possible, move your vehicles off the main road to a safe place away from heavy traffic and call the police. Regardless of the damage, a police presence guarantees documentation that the accident happened. If you choose not to alert the authorities, you risk paying more for damages that were not your fault or getting less compensation than you deserve from the other parties involved.
2. Stay calm. It was an accident. Becoming antsy or argumentative doesn’t look good to the police investigating the accident. Everyone is upset; there’s no need to add to the drama and you need your wits about you in order to properly record all the important information.
3. Check yourself thoroughly for injuries. If you need an ambulance, call for one immediately. Remember, not all injuries are immediately evident, such as internal bleeding and concussions. Symptoms of whiplash often take 24 hours to appear—and lower back and neck stiffness can last a lifetime after a car accident. Even if it’s just a precautionary measure, get checked out by a physician, either by calling 911 or getting yourself to a hospital, and keep copies of all records of any medical treatment.
4. Write down all of the information of the other person or people involved in the rear-ending, including: Drivers’ license number, insurance card information, vehicle make and model, license plate state and number, home and work phone numbers, e-mail address, or any other information you need to provide your insurance company. If the driver of the other vehicle is not the owner of the car, make note. If they cannot provide you with an insurance card, or if it has expired, make note of this fact as well.
5. Take pictures of the damage. If an issue arises regarding insurance payments for either the vehicles or any incurred medical bills, having photographic evidence always helps.
The best way to avoid a rear-end collision is to pay attention to the cars ahead of you, watch for brake lights—sudden and otherwise, keep at least half a car-length distance between yourself and other vehicles, and get your breaks checked annually. Even if you drive as safely as possible, accidents happen every day. If you do happen to get into a rear-end collision, be thankful it wasn’t more serious, and take your time to accomplish these five steps as quickly and completely as possible.
Dr. Rosenthal studied medicine at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. With more than ten years of experience in chiropractic medicine, Dr. Rosenthal guides his patients through gentle protocols to allow a smooth return to optimal health. Not only does Dr. Rosenthal practice health and medicine through his Chicago chiropractic clinic, but he actively works to give patients and knowledge seekers alike meaningful content, advice, and help on health related issues through published research.