Nearly a third of all auto accidents involve rear-end collisions, says the National Highway Safety Transportation Administration. Even though they’re the most common type of accident, not everyone knows what to do following such an accident. The aftermath of any type of vehicle wreck is overwhelming and it can be difficult to know exactly what steps to take. The first thing to do is take a deep breath and try to gather your thoughts. What you do after that can make or break your personal injury case.

Let’s look at a quick outline of the appropriate steps and then talk about each:

  • Check for injuries
  • Call 911
  • Take pictures
  • Secure a copy of the police report
  • Contact your insurance company
  • Reach out to a car accident attorney

Check for Injuries

Pause a moment as the dust settles and assess yourself. How do you feel? Are there obvious signs of injury? If you are able to do so, once you determine your own injuries, check on any others involved in the accident. If you discover that someone is injured and you are able to offer help, do so with that person’s permission.

Many rear-end collisions happen at low to medium speeds, but this does not mean you might not have injuries that emerge. Some injuries, such as whiplash or a broken collarbone, are not immediately obvious following an accident. Pay close attention to pain and limited mobility.

Call 911

Once you have rendered assistance to anyone injured, call 911. The operator will ask for specific information, including your name, your location, the number of vehicles involved, and if anyone is hurt. Provide factual information and avoid exaggerations or opinions. Keep in mind that your phone call is being recorded and anything you say can be used against you later.

Take Pictures

Take pictures of vehicles, the roadway, and the surrounding area. When taking pictures of vehicle damage, be sure to get close-ups and wide-angle shots. Be sure to take photos of other vehicles involved as well. It’s better to take too many pictures than too few so snap away.

Secure a Copy of the Police Report

The police will investigate the scene when they arrive. They will ask those involved for their personal and contact information, take their own photos, and may take measurements. Officers will gather any evidence they deem pertinent in order to construct an accurate account of the incident.

Ask the responding officer how to obtain a copy of the police report. You may be given a phone number to call or a precinct to visit. It is your right to receive a copy of the investigator’s report. In most cases, you will not receive a copy immediately as the officer will need time to actually write the report.

Contact Your Insurance Company

Most insurance companies require you to report an accident within a specific time frame. The New York no-fault claims system, for instance, requires you to file a notice of a claim within 30 days.

Take a look at your policy documents to determine how long you have to make the phone call. When you speak with your agent, make sure you only provide factual information. Do not get into a conversation with your agent, no matter how pleasant they are.

Reach Out to a Long Island Car Accident Attorney

You may wish to speak with an experienced Long Island car accident lawyer prior to calling any insurer, even your own. Even when dealing with your own insurance company, know that they are far more interested in their profits than your financial or personal wellbeing. The agent you speak with is trying to find a way to deny a potential claim. Do not admit any type of fault, don’t claim to be uninjured, and don’t answer a question unless you can provide an answer that doesn’t include your opinion.