What to Do if a Car Hits You From Behind

A rear-end collision often causes devastating damage. It can result in serious injuries, immense damage to your vehicle, and, in many cases, a long quest to get the compensation you deserve. If a car hits you from behind, you may need to carefully gauge your subsequent actions to increase the odds that you will receive the compensation you deserve for those injuries and damages.

Of course, you should report the accident to the local police and make sure that you seek any needed medical attention immediately. Once you have received a diagnosis and treatment for any injuries, you may want to follow other key steps to help the claim process move more smoothly or a car accident lawyer can help you in this process.

1. Seek Additional Medical Care for Worrisome Symptoms

Sometimes, you may have a doctor check you out immediately after the accident but not realize until later that you have more serious symptoms than anticipated. Rear-end collisions often result in whiplash injuries, which may not show signs right after the accident. Your doctor may also notice specific symptoms that should cause you to pursue future medical attention. Any time you suffer those symptoms, or other symptoms that cause you to worry, you should pursue additional medical care as soon as possible.

2. Start a File for Your Medical Expenses

Medical costs after a serious rear-end collision can result in substantial financial strain. Start a file that contains copies of all of your medical bills and other expenses related to your medical treatment. You will need to provide evidence of your medical costs to file an injury claim allowing you to seek compensation for all those medical costs.

By documenting your medical expenses, you can ensure that you can more easily keep up with the costs associated with your injuries. You may have more than one bill from the same procedure, or you may end up with ongoing costs related to some of your injuries, particularly if you will need ongoing medical care.

3. Follow All Medical Care Instructions

What to Do if a Car Hits You From Behind

When you receive instructions from a medical care provider related to your injuries and your recovery, make sure you follow them carefully. For example, if you suffer whiplash in the accident, your care provider may recommend that you avoid some types of activities that could put additional strain on your neck and back while you recover. Make sure you follow all those instructions as carefully as possible.

Take Care of Needed Medical Appointments and Procedures

You will often find that you require specific types of medical appointments and procedures to make as full a recovery as possible from your injuries. Suppose, for example, you suffered a broken leg in an accident.

You might require surgery to set the break. If you put off that surgery or choose to forego it entirely, you may need additional medical care, and you may not make as complete a recovery as you would have if you had gone ahead with that procedure. Other medical procedures may create even more challenges if you choose not to have them.

In addition, your care provider may recommend that you have physical or occupational therapy to help you recover from your injuries. Physical therapy helps rebuild needed strength after your accident. It also helps build flexibility in injured areas of the body.

Without physical therapy, you may find that your body stiffens, which means you will not have the same overall range of motion you might otherwise have. As a result, your care provider or the insurance company might judge that you have self-limited your recovery, which might mean you could not get the compensation you would otherwise deserve.

Likewise, occupational therapy will offer substantial support and assistance as you recover from your injuries. During occupational therapy, you will learn how to accomplish tasks despite the limitations you may have faced after your accident.

For example, an occupational therapist might help a patient with traumatic brain injury learn how to cope with the limitations that the patient faces as a result of the accident:

  • Managing memory challenges.
  • Dealing with focus and concentration issues.
  • Managing the emotional outbursts that may go along with a traumatic brain injury.

Working with an occupational therapist may substantially increase a patient’s overall independence and functionality. If you ignore those sessions, on the other hand, you may end up struggling to cope with the new limitations related to the accident and your injuries.

The insurance company may then judge that you have chosen to limit your own recovery, which would mean that you no longer have the right to compensation for the damages associated with your failure to cooperate.

Avoid Potentially Damaging Activities

Depending on the injuries you sustained, you may need to avoid specific activities that can potentially worsen your injuries or cause you to suffer additional injuries. For example, suppose you suffer whiplash in a rear-end collision and find that your symptoms worsen with movement. In that case, your care provider may recommend avoiding those activities during your recovery.

If you suffered broken bones in the accident, your doctor might recommend that you avoid bearing weight on the injured limb or using it normally until you have a chance to recover. In many cases, that may mean considerable limits on your daily activities and your return to work prior to your recovery.

If you ignore your doctor and engage in potentially dangerous activities before you have the chance to recover from your injuries, it could cause you to worsen your injuries inadvertently. Then, the insurance company may not pay out further compensation for the additional damages you caused yourself as a result of those negligent actions.

4. Document the Course of Your Recovery

As part of a rear-end collision claim after your accident, you may have the right to claim compensation for both tangible financial damages and intangible suffering associated with your accident. To make it easier to put together that claim, document the course of your recovery and the challenges you may face along the way.

Document Your Statement About the Accident

When you have the chance, document what you remember about the accident itself. Memory can fade quickly. Trauma, in particular, often distorts memory. The trauma of your rear-end collision may make it very difficult for you to remember exactly what led to the accident, from what steps you took to avoid the collision to even whether you may have seen the other vehicle coming or taken steps to try to avoid it.

By writing your statement down or recording it as soon after your rear-end collision as possible, you can put down a more accurate statement untainted by the insurance company or by information provided by another party.

Write Down Information About Your Struggles

Many people find themselves struggling heavily to deal with the aftermath of a devastating rear-end collision. You may suffer from PTSD related to the accident, or you may find yourself with ongoing symptoms of anxiety related to driving, especially around intersections or places where you might have an increased risk of a second rear-end collision.

Talk about both the physical elements of those struggles and the emotional ones. Your journal will not have the same weight as a diagnosis from a mental health professional, but it can help showcase everything you have had to deal with on your road to recovery.

List Dates of Important Milestones

Often, as your recovery progresses, you may have a hard time remembering exactly when something happened. What day did your doctor tell you that you suffered injuries you may not recover from? How long did it take you to get up out of your wheelchair and start walking again? How long did you have to avoid your favorite activities while recovering from whiplash injuries?

Your journal should document not just the struggles you face during your recovery but also any progress you may make and any major milestones. Looking back at your journal later will provide you with a more effective timeline regarding your recovery, which you can then use as part of your injury claim.

5. Let Your Lawyer Deal With the Insurance Company

A lot of things may happen with the insurance company after your accident. In most cases, you need to let a lawyer deal with the insurance company on your behalf so that you can avoid any snarls or challenges that the insurance company may try to throw in your way.

Early Settlements

An early settlement offer may sound like a great way to get the compensation you deserve in your hands as soon as possible. When you have immense repair and medical bills related to your rear-end collision and the injuries that occurred, you may want to accept that settlement offer quickly so that you can move forward with paying off your bills or managing your expenses.

The initial settlement offer from an insurance company, however, rarely reflects the compensation you really deserve for those damages and injuries. You may find, in fact, that an early settlement offer reflects only a fraction of the damages associated with your claim. If you accept that initial settlement offer, it could ultimately mean that you do not get the compensation you really deserve, which, in turn, may mean that you cannot pay your bills.

Disputed Liability

Insurance companies often try to dispute liability related to a rear-end collision. A rear-end collision may seem relatively straightforward. Perhaps you stopped at an intersection, but the vehicle behind you did not. Logically, it follows that the driver of that vehicle committed some type of error, including speeding or driving while distracted, that led to the accident. Likewise, if you suffered a rear-end collision in the middle of the road, it may have occurred because of speeding or tailgating.

However, the insurance company may see things differently. The insurance company may try to argue that you committed an error or engaged in dangerous behavior that contributed to the collision. The insurance company may even try to claim that you backed into the other vehicle. Your lawyer can better showcase the conditions that likely led to the accident, including, if necessary, bringing in an expert witness to establish that, based on the location, you likely did not contribute to the accident.

Disputed Damages

Andrew Finkelstein Jacoby & Meyers LLP

Car Accident Lawyer, Andrew Finkelstein

Even if the insurance company accepts its driver’s liability for a rear-end collision, you may not automatically get the compensation you deserve for those losses. In many cases, the insurance company may try to dispute the extent of the damages you sustained due to the accident. For example, the insurance company may try to claim that you did not really suffer the injuries you claim from a rear-end collision.

Whiplash, for example, often proves challenging to establish since it may not always leave obvious medical signs. Likewise, the insurance company may attempt to claim that you suffered the injuries at another time or that you worsened your own injuries by ignoring your doctor’s instructions or engaging in dangerous or potentially damaging activities.

By working with a lawyer, you can more easily gather the evidence you need to clearly establish the damages that went along with the rear-end collision and to show that those injuries did occur at that time. Your lawyer can help ensure you get justice for the full damages you sustained, not just some of them.


After a rear-end collision, you will often have to negotiate with the insurance company to get the compensation you deserve. The negotiation process often grows very frustrating. A lawyer, however, can calculate how much compensation to reasonably expect and fight to get it for you. In addition, your lawyer can deal with the insurance company on your behalf, which may make your claim easier to manage.

If you have questions about your rear-end collision claim, contact an attorney to learn more about your next steps.