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White van damaged in a rear-end collision

What to Do After Being Rear Ended

Law Office of Stephen C. Buser, Ltd. June 7, 2024

Being involved in a rear-end collision can be a stressful and disorienting experience. If you’ve been rear-ended, you must take immediate steps to protect your personal well-being and your legal rights. 

But what are these steps? And how important are they? In this guide, we’ll outline what to do after you’ve been rear-ended, including both immediate actions and long-term considerations. 

Safety First 

Safety should be your top priority immediately following a rear-end collision. If possible, move your vehicle to the side of the road to prevent further accidents. Turn on your hazard lights to alert other drivers. Check for injuries, and if anyone is hurt, call 911 immediately to get medical help. 

Whiplash is one of the most common injuries that spawn from rear-end accidents, resulting from the sudden jerking motion of the head and neck. This can cause neck pain, stiffness, and reduced range of motion.  

Back injuries are also frequently associated with rear-end collisions, ranging from minor strains to more severe conditions like herniated discs. Victims might also experience concussions or traumatic brain injuries if they hit their head on the steering wheel or dashboard on impact.  

Other common injuries include shoulder and arm injuries, as well as fractures and soft tissue injuries. Even if injuries appear minor, it’s wise to seek medical attention as some injuries might not be immediately apparent. 

Document the Scene 

Take photographs of the accident scene, focusing on vehicle damages, the surrounding area, skid marks, and any visible injuries. 

Exchange contact and insurance information with the other driver, and collect contact information from any witnesses. Ensure that you also note down the make, model, and license plate number of the involved vehicles. 

Collecting this information may feel tedious, especially when you're doing so immediately after a jarring event, but it will all be worth it down the line when you're filing an insurance claim or pursuing legal action. 

Report the Accident 

Notify the local police about the accident, especially if there are significant damages or injuries. In many jurisdictions, you’re required by law to report motor vehicle accidents.  

In Illinois, it's mandatory to report any motor vehicle accident to the police if the collision results in bodily injury, death, or property damage exceeding $1,500. If a vehicle is uninsured, the threshold for property damage to report the accident drops to $500. Failure to report such incidents can result in fines, suspension of your driver's license, and other legal consequences. 

When reporting the accident, you need to provide accurate and detailed information to the authorities. This includes the date, time, and location of the collision and details about all parties involved, including their contact information, driver's license numbers, and insurance details. You should also describe the weather, road conditions, and any factors that might have contributed to the accident. 

After you report the accident to the police, they will typically arrive at the scene to assess the situation, document the incident, and create an official report. This police report serves as a crucial piece of evidence for insurance claims and any potential legal proceedings that could follow. You should obtain a copy of the report for your own records. 

In addition to reporting the accident to the local authorities, you must also report the incident to the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) if the accident results in injury, death, or significant property damage. You can do this by filing an Illinois Traffic Crash Report, also known as Form SR 1, within ten days of the accident. This form is available on the IDOT website and can be mailed or submitted online

Seek Medical Attention 

Even if you don’t feel injured right away, it’s critical to see a healthcare provider as soon as possible. Injuries from rear-end collisions, like those mentioned above, may not show symptoms immediately, but can have long-lasting effects. 

Professional medical documentation of any injuries will not only help in the recovery process, but also serve as crucial evidence if you decide to pursue legal action. Remember to keep all medical records, receipts, and detailed notes from medical consultations. Without doing so, it can be challenging to prove the extent of your injuries in court, which may lead to you not receiving the full compensation you deserve.  

Notify Your Insurance Company 

Report the accident to your insurance company as soon as possible. Provide them with all the gathered information and documentation about the accident. Be honest and accurate in your account, but avoid speculating or admitting fault. Your insurer will guide you through the claims process and inform you about any necessary procedures to follow. 

Be careful to not accept any early settlement offers from either your insurance company or the other driver’s insurer, as these may not fully cover all damages and injuries. Consult with a personal injury lawyer before making any decisions. 

Meet With an Experienced Car Accident Lawyer 

As soon as you can, contact an attorney experienced in handling car accident cases. A lawyer can guide you through the legal process, help you understand your options, and work to hold the responsible party accountable for their actions. 

The Law Office of Stephen C. Buser, Ltd. has extensive experience in protecting the rights of car accident victims. Attorney Stephen C. Buser offers free consultations so that you can share your story without any financial commitment.  

Take Legal Action if Necessary 

If it becomes apparent that the insurance settlement is insufficient to cover your damages, or if fault is being disputed, taking legal action may be the most effective way to ensure justice. An experienced attorney can assist you in filing a lawsuit against the responsible party for damages, including medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. 

In Illinois, the statute of limitations for filing a lawsuit in personal injury cases is generally two years from the date of the injury. Missing this deadline can result in losing your right to pursue legal action, so it's key to act swiftly and consult an attorney as soon as possible.  

Always be mindful that certain circumstances or specific details of your case may affect the exact deadline. For example, if you don't discover your injuries until a later date, the statute of limitations may be extended.  

Every case is different, so be sure to obtain representation as soon as possible to ensure no critical timelines are overlooked. 

Contact the Law Office of Stephen C. Buser, Ltd. 

If you’ve been involved in a rear-end collision in Illinois, don’t wait to get legal help. Contact the Law Office of Stephen C. Buser, Ltd. for a free initial consultation to discuss your concerns and explore your legal options. We handle all cases on a contingency fee basis, meaning no attorney’s fees are charged unless there is a recovery. 

Protect your rights and take immediate action today. Attorney Stephen C. Buser works with residents throughout Columbia, Waterloo, Millstadt, Belleville, Fairview Heights, St. Louis City, South County, Mehlville, Oakville, Arnold, and Southern Illinois