With over 222 million drivers in the United States, serious auto accidents happen every day. Whether it is in a rural area like Kingstree, South Carolina, or a busy tourist area like Myrtle Beach, car accidents are one of the leading causes of death, injuries, and damage across the US. In 2015 alone, there were approximately 6 million car crashes with millions of injuries and deaths.
Out of these millions of auto accidents, rear-end crashes are one of the most frequently occurring types of accidents. In fact, according to a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) report, almost 29 percent of car accidents are rear-end collisions that result in millions of cases of injuries and even fatalities. According to these statistics, almost 1.7 million accidents are rear-end collisions across the USA every year, killing almost 1,700 people. In South Carolina (according to the South Carolina Department of Public Safety), there were 445 fatal crashes in 2017 alone with 519 people killed in those accidents and as of July 1, 2018, there were already 445 fatal wrecks with 483 people killed.
With these statistics, there is a good chance that at some point you may fall victim to a rear-end collision. Even if you drive carefully and keep your eyes glued to the road, accidents can happen through no fault of your own. Even a minor accident can leave you feeling a bit shaken and possibly angry. The sudden shock, pain and intense anger can sometimes cause you to make rash decisions. No matter how upset you are, it is in your best interest to remain level-headed.
Do yourself a favor and stay calm. Wait for authorities to arrive. Keeping calm will allow you to accurately tell police, the insurance company and your attorney what happened. This is crucial because accurate information will be needed to file a claim, and for you to receive compensation for any injuries and/or car damage.
It is irrational to assume that you will be in the state of mind to know what to do immediately after an accident. Give yourself some time. There’s no need to search for your phone and begin researching right then and there.
Keeping this in consideration, we have put together a comprehensive list of steps you need to take after being rear-ended. These steps are easy to remember and will help if you decide to file a personal injury claim.
1. Check for Injuries
Your health and safety should be your immediate concern after your car has been rear-ended. You might think that rear-end collisions don’t normally cause serious injuries, but it is always better to be safe than sorry. Even if you feel uninjured or have only minor injuries, it’s best to seek medical help immediately.
In many instances, a sudden shock like an accident can push your body into over-drive and you might experience a surge of adrenaline that can mask your symptoms. But after your body adjusts to the shock, you may suddenly start feeling aches and pains. Whiplash is one of the most common repercussions of a rear-end collision and can cause back or neck injuries.
Also, if you have passengers or pets in your car, check to make sure they are not injured.
2. Contact Police or Emergency Personnel
After you have made sure that you and your passengers have no injuries that need immediate attention, check to see if the other car is still there. If someone has suffered an injury, call 911 immediately.
If there are no injuries, you should contact the non-emergency line of the police department and have an officer come to the scene of the accident. While you are waiting for the police to arrive, make sure that you don’t touch anything or remove anything from the crash site. The other car’s position and other external factors (like trees, stoplights, intersections, etc.) can prove to be important evidence; so stay where you are until the police arrive.
Having a police officer at the site will make it easy for you to file an official report, which is crucial to have when you file your insurance claim. The official report will validate the claim. Also, having a police officer there will prevent fights and keep everyone under control.
3. Document Information
While you wait for the police to check the scene and look for evidence to write their report, you should gather and document information of the rear-end collision. Walk around the site where the cars collided and take pictures with your cell phone. But only do this if it’s safe to do so. These photos can be used as proof and are vital if you are forced to file a personal injury claim.
Also, take a few notes from the site including the full name, license number, insurance information and contact details of the other driver who hit you. Talk to some eye-witnesses and ask them if they can provide their contact information if the need arises for you to contact them.
After you have gone over the accident site, take note of, and pictures of bodily injuries if you suffered any. Keep a record of all prescriptions, reports, and/or bills related to any injuries caused by the accident. This will help your attorney build your case.
4. Notify your Insurance Company
If you have any bodily injuries or your car suffers any damage, make a call to your auto insurance company and notify them of the accident. They will need exact information about the collision so they can get a statement from the driver who rear-ended your car.
At the same time, if you receive a call from the other driver’s insurance company asking you for a statement, avoid talking to them until you talk to your attorney. You should know that you are under no obligation to speak to them. It is better to say nothing and wait to talk to your attorney. Otherwise, you may say something that may hurt your case, and that could be held against you in the proceedings.
5. Contact an Attorney
The last and most important step you will need to take is to call your attorney, as you need someone on your side to deal with the insurers, medical claims, etc. Simply get in touch with a trustworthy lawyer and avoid speaking to anyone until that time. Remain calm and wait for your attorney to give you advice on the best way to handle your case.
The Law Offices of David L. Hood – Serving Car Accident Victims in South Carolina
If you have suffered a rear-end collision in South Carolina, the legal team at the Law Offices of David L. Hood will help you navigate the situation professionally. We have years of experience in helping people involved in serious accidents figure out the legal requirements and details needed to move forward after an accident. After gathering all the necessary information we will pour our efforts into building your case to get a fair settlement or take it to court if the need arises.
Our entire team has years of experience representing various clients and car accident victims in South Carolina. Having a passion to help, we offer a free initial consultation where we provide candid legal advice on what options you may have. If you choose to work with us, we promise a contingent-fee based case, where you don’t pay unless we get a recovery in your case.
You can find our contact information on the page here and schedule your free consultation session. From that moment until your case is closed, we will stay with you each step of the way in the fight to achieve justice for you and your family.