What to Do If A Car Hits You From Behind

AUTHOR: A.J. Bruning | December 6, 2023
What to Do If A Car Hits You From Behind

If a car hits you from behind, contact authorities immediately. A neutral third party (a police officer) needs to document the accident. If you need compensation from the party who caused the accident, a police report will document key evidence in your case.

Seek medical attention, even if you are unaware of injuries. The last step every rear-end accident victim should consider is hiring a lawyer. An St Louis car accident attorney will fight for a settlement or jury verdict while you focus on recovery.

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Steps Every Rear-End Collision Victim Should Take (or, at Least, Consider)

Every rear-end collision is unique, varying in terms of:

What to Do If A Car Hits You From Behind
  • The angle at which vehicles collide
  • The speed at which vehicles collide
  • The size and weight of colliding vehicles (a truck can cause catastrophic damage, as an example)
  • The number and type of occupants in the front vehicle (children, elderly, and health-compromised occupants may face a heightened risk of injury)
  • The avoidance maneuvers a motorist takes 
  • The specific injuries resulting from the accident

These differences do not affect your post-accident to-do list. Regardless of the details of your accident:

Seek a Complete Medical Exam

Several injuries associated with car accidents do not have immediate symptoms. Whiplash, in particular, may have slow-onset symptoms that do not manifest until days (or longer) after a rear-end collision.

When you pursue thorough and immediate medical care after an accident, you:

  • Get documentation of accident-related injuries 
  • Ensure that you are not in immediate danger because of accident-related injuries
  • Receive a treatment and recovery plan (ensuring you can recover as quickly as possible)

Keep all records from accident-related medical care. Relevant records may include X-rays, MRIs, CT scans, written diagnoses of injuries, and bills. These records will likely help your car accident lawyer build your case.

Refrain From Making Recorded Statements

What you don’t do after a rear-end accident is as important as what you do.

Do not:

  • Speak with anyone involved in the accident
  • Apologize to anyone involved in the accident
  • Speak with insurance representatives until you have spoken with your lawyer
  • Make any recorded statements to anyone (including insurers and law enforcement officers)

Politely decline to make formal statements until you have retained a car accident lawyer. Your attorney will make all necessary statements without compromising your rights or your financial recovery.

Hire a Lawyer as Soon as Possible

Never wait to hire an attorney after a car hits you from behind.

Retaining a lawyer is a time-sensitive priority because:

  • Your rights are at risk the entire time you don’t have a lawyer
  • You likely need to make statements to insurers but should not do so until you hire a lawyer
  • Important evidence for your case (including video footage) may not be available for long after your accident
  • You deserve to focus wholeheartedly on recovery—the sooner you hire a lawyer, the sooner you can focus on your health

Following these steps after a rear-end car accident will protect your health and position your lawsuit or insurance claim for success.

How Do I Choose a Car Accident Lawyer?

There is a law firm ideally suited to handle your case—now you must find that firm.

You can find a law firm through:

  • The Internet: The Internet is one of the most powerful resources for finding qualified attorneys. Search “rear-end collision attorneys in my area” and find several law firms willing to help.
  • Recommendations from friends and family: If you know someone who has hired a car accident lawyer before, ask them for recommendations. While you don’t necessarily need a personal recommendation to find a capable attorney, a glowing recommendation has value. 
  • Local advertisements: You may be familiar with personal injury law firms in your city through local offices, billboards, bench advertisements, bus advertisements, television ads, and other advertising channels. Call these local firms to determine if they can take on your case.

Google and other review forums may show how clients view a law firm. These reviews are one of several criteria you can use to evaluate prospective lawyers.

Criteria to Consider When Hiring a Car Accident Attorney

Car accident cases may involve hundreds of thousands of dollars in compensation. Some cases require more than $1 million in awards for the plaintiff. Hire a capable, dedicated lawyer, as this may set you on the first step toward a successful financial outcome.

Rear-End Collision

As you decide which law firm to hire, consider:

  • Reviews: Client reviews deserve your time and attention. You may avoid a subpar law firm or find an excellent one by paying attention to former clients. Google is a reliable source to find both positive and negative reviews of car accident lawyers.
  • Case results: Results matter in every professional field, and civil law is no different. If a law firm has an impressive record of settlements and judgments, consider this record. You want to know if a law firm can deliver your desired results, so pay attention to case results.
  • Practice areas: Law firms have practice areas that tell you the firm’s focus. You should hire a lawyer who regularly handles car accident cases. Always look for experience when choosing a car accident attorney.
  • Your consultation: You should complete a free consultation before hiring a lawyer. During your consultation, you should understand the law firm’s culture, qualifications, and client commitment. This is a positive sign if you mesh well with a law firm during the consultation.

Find out as much as possible about a law firm. Use the totality of data to make an informed decision, and also consider your instincts.

The Importance of Hiring a Rear-End Collision Lawyer After Someone Hits You From Behind

We know that rear-end accidents increase one’s risk of having psychological problems. You must prioritize your mental health after your accident, and hiring a lawyer is one obvious way to protect your psychological and emotional health.

Avoiding stress is one of several reasons to hire a car accident lawyer:

  • Your lack of relevant experience: Most car accident victims are not insurance representatives or lawyers. This means they are, in most cases, unfamiliar with insurance claims and lawsuits. You should hire a lawyer because you are unequipped to handle your own case.
  • A law firm’s resources: In addition to experience, a lawyer offers resources you might not otherwise have access to. This includes paralegals, investigators, experts, mock trial services, and other resources that benefit your case.
  • The time commitment a rear-end accident case requires: Even if you felt healthy enough to lead your rear-end accident case, do you have the time your case will require? For many accident victims, the answer is “no.”
  • The high stakes of your case: If you need a job done right, call a professional. If you are serious about seeking compensation for a rear-end accident, you will hire a lawyer. Attorneys have the experience, resources, and time your case demands.

You must decide whether to hire a car accident lawyer. Now, you know why many rear-end accident victims accept help from experienced attorneys.

Your Lawyer Will Establish Liability for Your Accident 

One of the priorities for your lawyer will be identifying those responsible for your accident.

In a rear-end accident case, liable parties may include:

  • A motorist: If a car hit you from behind, it likely means the motorist followed you too closely. Though some exceptions apply to this rule, your lawyer will review the actions of the rear-ending motorist to determine their liability. 
  • A motor vehicle manufacturer: If a motor vehicle defect (like faulty brakes) contributed to your rear-end accident, the component manufacturer may be liable for your damages. 
  • A municipality: If road conditions contributed to the rear-end collision, the municipality that oversees those roads may be financially responsible for the accident.
  • A business owner: An employer may be liable when their employee causes a rear-end accident while working. An alcohol-serving establishment may be liable when a drunk motorist causes an accident. These are examples showing the business owner can be liable for rear-end collisions. 

There is a story behind each rear-end accident. Your lawyer will learn the story and use facts and evidence to establish liability for damages.

Your Rear-End Collision Attorney Will Identify Your Recoverable Damages

Your lawyer must answer: How has this rear-end accident harmed my client?

Rear-End Collision Victim

Harm often takes two forms:

  1. Economic damages, which have a clear, measurable financial value
  2. Non-economic damages, which have a financial value that is less obvious

Your lawyer will investigate the nature and cost of your damages, which may include:

  • Vehicle repairs and other property costs: When someone strikes your vehicle, the cost and hassle of vehicle repairs are a concern. Your lawyer will measure the cost of repairing your vehicle, securing temporary transportation, and replacing other damaged property.
  • Medical bills: The cost of catastrophic injuries can bankrupt the average American. Your attorney will calculate the cost of all your accident-related medical bills. They will also consider any increase in healthcare premiums, rehabilitation expenses, and other costs related to your medical care.
  • Pain and suffering: Rear-end accident lawyers consider the non-economic cost of their clients’ accidents. Pain and suffering is a common type of non-economic damage that can refer to physical pain, psychological distress, emotional anguish, and similar problems. 
  • Mental health treatment: Your lawyer will consider medications, therapy, and any other treatment you receive for your pain and suffering. 
  • Lost income and other professional harm: Those who miss work after a rear-end accident can seek compensation for lost income and other professional harm.

Your lawyer may work with economists and experts to calculate your accident-related damages. Attorneys are thorough when calculating clients’ damages, and for good reason. The cost of your damages will determine how much money your lawyers will seek for you.

A Lawyer Will Seek Compensation for a Fatal Rear-End Collision

Some rear-end accident victims do not escape the collision.

These tragic cases leave survivors with several damages, which may include:

  • Funeral costs
  • Burial or cremation costs
  • Loss of spousal companionship
  • Loss of a parent’s guidance
  • Lost financial support
  • Loss of the decedent’s household contributions
  • Immense pain and suffering

Regardless of the outcome of your rear-end accident, you may prefer to have a lawyer identify your damages and fight for a fair financial recovery.

More Responsibilities a Car Accident Lawyer Will Handle for You

In addition to establishing liability and calculating your damages, expect your rear-end accident attorney to:

  • Lead communications: Your lawyer will deal with insurance companies, other lawyers, and anyone involved in your case. Communication is a crucial responsibility in lawsuits and claims, and it’s a duty your lawyer will take off your hands.
  • Secure evidence: Your attorney will immediately seek evidence related to the accident. They may obtain witness accounts, video footage, the police report, and any other relevant evidence to your case.
  • Negotiate a settlement: Your attorney will seek fair compensation from liable parties. Your attorney should be prepared for tense negotiations and will be ready to fight for the settlement you deserve.
  • Go to trial (if necessary): Rear-end accident cases rarely require trials. However, your lawyer will prepare for trial if your case follows that path.

Let your lawyer sweat the details of your insurance claim or lawsuit. Focus on your health. Your attorney will update you frequently, providing peace of mind and the legal representation you deserve.

Anthony Bruning
St. Louis Car Accident Lawyer, Anthony Bruning

Hire a Car Accident Lawyer as Soon as Possible

Each state requires you to file rear-end accident lawsuits within a specific filing period, and you must complete many tasks before filing a lawsuit in court. Hire your attorney as soon as possible so they have plenty of time to build a strong case and pursue an out-of-court settlement.

Consultations are free, so don’t wait to call personal injury law firms serving your area.

A.J. Bruning


I was born and raised to represent individuals who have been needlessly injured. I mean that literally. At a young age my father would tell me about the clients he was representing. I would meet them and take pride in their admiration of my father. I always knew I wanted to be a lawyer and represent clients that needed my help.

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