Rear Ended In A Car Accident – Now What?
Fender bender: a minor accident can lead to major financial pain.
It can happen to anyone at any time: You’re commuting to work, going to the beach, on the way home from the store. Next thing you know, your car is hit and your head/neck are jerked back and forth. It’s not your fault you’ve been rear-ended. It’s not an everyday occurrence so you may be sitting in your car stunned, unable to think of what to do next. Need to know how to handle a car accident? We’re sharing what you should do if you’ve been in a (seemingly) minor auto accident.
First Steps After a Car Accident That’s Not Your Fault
Many of the steps you take after a car accident are the same regardless of who’s at fault. Even if you think it’s a minor fender bender, it’s best to protect your best interests. The other party may leave the scene, fail to report the accident, may be un- or under-insured, or contradict your account of the accident. Follow these steps:
Pull Over and Call 911
If you can, turn on your hazard lights and move your car out of the line of traffic. You don’t want to cause an unnecessary traffic jam or another car crash.
Check on all drivers and passengers involved in the accident; and if possible, help those in need of emergency care. Never move an injured person unless it is absolutely necessary; this is for their safety. If someone was injured –or if anyone mentions feeling pain—call 911 immediately.
Exchange Car Insurance Information
If you choose not to call 911, at least make sure to exchange car insurance information. Even with minimal damage to your vehicle and in those accidents where there seem to be no injuries; it never hurts to exchange information. If you have it, then the insurance companies can help work out payment for damages.
You’re likely reading this on your phone – use it to take photos of the damage and accident scene.
Take pictures of:
- Your car and the other car
- License plates
- Insurance cards and/or Driver’s licenses
- View of the street and signage
Trust us, these photos can be helpful when you know you weren’t at fault and need some evidence to help prove it.
After the Accident
Seek Medical Attention
Don’t refuse it! If you are injured, get immediate medical attention and report your injuries to your insurance company.
Under Florida’s Personal Injury Protection (also called “PIP” or “no fault”) laws, drivers are required to carry insurance for their injuries or wages regardless of who’s at fault. You have a 14-day window to seek treatment after a car accident or forfeit your PIP benefits. This means you will be responsible for the cost of your injuries.
Some injuries don’t happen immediately after a car accident – even a minor one. You do not want to be prevented from recovering PIP benefits because you thought that you were feeling all right.
Passengers are also entitled to PIP benefits under the driver’s auto insurance. Therefore, they should also seek medical treatment to make sure of benefit eligibility.
If you have questions about your PIP benefits, talk to your car insurance company.
If it’s the other driver’s fault, you were rear-ended after all then they are responsible for reporting the accident to their insurer. However, don’t assume that they will follow through and make the call. That’s why you want to collect all the information you can following the car accident to share with your insurance.
In addition to your photos of the scene, you’ll want to have this information:
- The other driver’s name, address, and phone number
- Their car insurance company name and policy number
- Witness statements and contact information (if applicable)
Our Tampa, FL personal injury attorneys can help you understand what steps to take after a car accident. We can help you get the reimbursement you deserve after an accident that wasn’t your fault. Contact Mickey Keenan Law Firm today.
Consider Getting a Police Report
Perhaps you didn’t file a police report at the scene, but you may still want to file a report after the accident. In Florida, police departments allow reports to be filed up to 72 hours later.
Reporting after both cars have left the scene means the information won’t be as accurate. In general, it’s best to call and file a report at the scene. This is especially true if there are physical injuries to yourself, passengers or even the other driver.
A police report (although not admissible in civil court) can help show evidence of your version of events for reaching a settlement.
Check Your Policy
Being in a car wreck, even a minor fender bender, can be stressful both physically and financially. Be prepared! Check your auto policy to make sure you have uninsured motorist coverage.
In 2018, 26.7 percent of drivers in Florida were uninsured. It’s one of the highest rates of uninsured drivers in the entire country! For Tampa Bay drivers, it’s best to be proactive with your policy – especially when it comes to uninsured motorist.
With uninsured motorist coverage, the driver and other passengers in the vehicle at the time of the accident are covered. You may also want to check other policy limits to make sure they suit your current needs.
Can’t Miss Steps After Being Rear-Ended
At the bare minimum, take quick photos with your phone of the other driver’s insurance information and seek medical attention within the 14-day window for PIP benefits. Otherwise, you may find yourself paying out-of-pocket for these accident expenses.
Have an Attorney Evaluate Your Car Accident Claim
Now that you know what to do after being rear-ended, you may have additional questions about your legal options. Our attorneys can help you decide what course of action to take if it isn’t easily resolved by your insurance or if the other driver was an uninsured motorist.
Our personal injury law firm proudly represents individuals injured as a result of another’s negligence. Your fight is our fight. Contact our experienced personal injury accident lawyer in Tampa, Florida at (813) 871-1300 for a free, no obligation consultation.