If someone rear-ends you whose insurance do you call?
This is a commonly asked question about car insurance, in the Vehicle safety and insurance community.
when the lead driver’s negligence contributed to the accident and the applicable state law reduces or completely eliminates the lead driver’s ability to recover damages from the mostly at-fault trailing driver.
Let’s explore the above situations, how they affect a plaintiff’s ability to recover monetary damages after a car accident, and more. (Get the basics on proving fault for a car accident.)
It might seem like identifying the at-fault driver is obvious after a rear-end crash, but there could be small details that can completely shift the liability picture.
Even if the fault is no longer in question, how much money the claimant is entitled to might be in dispute, especially if they were partially the cause for the accident.
That’s why it’s important to at least have an initial consultation with a car accident lawyer, whose assistance can be crucial to all phases of the car accident lawsuit process, including proving fault.
If there’s no lawsuit, a lawyer can ensure a favorable outcome to the car insurance settlement process.
Being involved in an accident or a hit and run is one of the more stressful experiences a car owner can go through, but being thorough and prepared at the scene of the accident will ensure the process goes as smoothly as possible.
If someone rear-ends you whose insurance do you call, you might not know whose insurance to call or what information you should collect from the other driver.
In this post, we’ll outline a few things you should do at the scene of the accident before you head to the body shop, like if someone rear-ends you whose insurance do you call.
Establishing Fault for Rear-End Accidents
Before we start discussing if someone rear-ends you whose insurance do you call, let’s first understand the faults for rear-end accidents and how to establish them.
The driver of the car that rear-ends a leading vehicle will almost always be at least partially negligent (“negligence” is the legal principle that determines fault for a car accident).
This is because every driver has a duty to follow other vehicles at a safe distance that varies depending on vehicle speed, road conditions, and a whole host of other factors.
But it’s possible for the driver of the car that gets rear-ended to also be deemed negligent, including when:
- the lead driver suddenly goes into reverse
- the lead car’s brake lights do not work properly
- The lead driver “brake checks” the tailing driver
The lead driver continues to operate the lead vehicle without hazard lights or without pulling over despite the vehicle having an obvious problem, like a flat tire or mechanical issue.
In each of these examples, the driver of the car that gets rear-ended would likely be at least partially at fault for the accident.
How this negligence affects any monetary damages that are potentially recoverable will depend on how your state handles situations where more than one party is at fault for an accident.
Car Accidents and the Concept of Negligence
Negligence is the term used to describe behavior that hurts others and falls below a basic standard of care.
Basically, you are negligent if you don’t act in a reasonable way, and someone is injured as a result. What constitutes reasonable behavior depends on the circumstances surrounding the accident.
To prove that a driver was negligent in connection with a car accident, you must first prove that a duty existed. This is pretty simple since all drivers owe a duty to other drivers on the road to not do something that might cause an accident.
Second, you must prove the other driver breached this duty. Drivers in rear-end collisions can breach their duty of reasonable care in a number of ways; for example, by failing to:
- pay attention to the road and look out for hazards
- stop within a reasonable time
- drive at a reasonable speed
- maintain control of the vehicle
- yield the right of way
- use turn signal
- follow at a safe distance.
Third, you must prove the other driver’s breach of duty was the cause of the accident. If the defendant was legally drunk, but the accident occurred because the plaintiff ran a red light, then it’s possible the plaintiff will lose the case.
Finally, you must establish that you suffered damages as a result of the accident. This includes car accident injuries and vehicle damage.
This is fairly simple in theory, especially when it’s easy to identify the at-fault driver. But what happens when the negligence of two or more drivers caused the accident?
Comparative Negligence vs. Contributory Negligence
If more than one driver is at fault for a car accident, the outcome will vary from state to state. A few states still follow a fairly harsh “contributory negligence” system, but most have adopted “comparative negligence” rules.
Let’s take a look at the difference between the two;
- Contributory Negligence;
Only a handful of states still subscribe to this system. Essentially, under the law of contributory negligence, if Driver A can show that Driver B’s negligence contributed to the accident to any degree, Driver B can’t recover anything at all in a lawsuit against Driver B.
So if Driver B was 1% at fault for the accident, they get nothing from Driver A, even if Driver A was 99% at fault.
- Comparative Negligence;
Comparative negligence allocates fault between drivers. A driver’s liability may lessen, but not necessarily be eliminated if the other driver is partly at fault for the accident. There are two variations of the comparative negligence system:
- Pure comparative negligence: Liability gets split according to the percentage of each driver’s fault. So, if Driver A is 30% to blame for a car accident, and she has $10,000 in damages, she can only collect $7,000 from Driver B (who was 70% to blame for the accident.)
- Modified comparative negligence: Liability gets split according to the percentage of fault, to a certain level. Once a plaintiff meets or exceeds that level, the plaintiff is barred from recovery.
That limit is typically 50%. In other words, if a plaintiff is more than 50% at fault for the accident, the plaintiff is barred from recovering anything at all from the other at-fault drivers.
These shared fault rules will apply in the care event that your car accident lawsuit goes all the way to trial, but insurance adjusters also keep these principles in mind when negotiating a settlement after a car accident.
Getting Compensation After a Rear-End Accident
In most rear-end collisions, the driver of the tail vehicle will be legally responsible for paying for the lead driver’s monetary damages.
The repair costs for the lead vehicle are typically easy to calculate, so many car insurance companies are quick to pay for those costs. But a complication often arises when it comes to paying for the lead driver’s medical bills.
That’s because common personal injuries from rear-end collisions are back and whiplash injuries, which are often hard to quantify, as they don’t always show up on diagnostic exams.
Call your insurance provider
If someone rear-ends you whose insurance do you call? If you’re involved in an accident in which you believe that you are not at fault, or if you’ve been involved in a hit and run, you will always call your insurance provider first.
Many people are nervous to report an accident to their insurer for fear of their rates possibly increasing.
However, most state laws prohibit insurance providers from increasing rates due to accidents that aren’t the fault of the policy holder.
Regardless of who is at fault, letting your insurance company know you were involved in an accident also establishes good faith and can help you out later on, especially if the other driver is not determined to be at fault.
You should always report any accident to your insurer, regardless of whether you believe you are at fault or not.
Typically, with any accident, your car insurance provider is responsible for covering (depending on your coverage) the immediate costs resulting from the accident or hit and run.
If you have collision insurance, filing a claim with your insurer gets you on the way to getting your vehicle repaired or replaced. While you’ll likely have to pay a deductible or other associated costs, your insurance should cover the rest.
In the case of an accident involving another driver, after you both call your insurance providers, they will work together to determine, if possible, who is at fault in the accident.
If you are determined to be not at fault, your insurance company will work to recoup the costs they or you might have paid after the accident occurred.
Before this whole process can take place, however, there is some essential work you need to do to help your insurance company resolve the matter.
Gather essential information at the scene
The final piece of information we will be living you with in this article on, if someone rear-ends you whose insurance do you call is how to gather essential information at the scene while involving you insurance company.
It’s important to note that insurance companies can sometimes mistakenly show a not-at-fault accident as an at-fault accident in certain reporting systems, such as on a MVR.
If you happen to find yourself in this situation, you’ll be called on to provide documentation that supports the accident being a not-at-fault accident in order to have it removed from this and other records.
That’s one reason why it’s particularly important to gather all the essential information whenever you’re involved in an accident, regardless of who you perceive to be at fault.
When you’re involved in an accident with another driver, depending on how severe the accident and resulting damage is, you should call the police and explain that you’ve been in an accident.
It’s especially important to call the police if anyone is injured, the damage to your car is severe, or other property has been damaged.
Regardless of the scale of the accident, having an impartial third party record of a statement from you, the other driver(s) involved and any witnesses is essential when trying to prove fault in an accident.
If you can, try to obtain a copy of the police report or the report number so that your insurance company can easily obtain it.
Many state laws, including Missouri’s, require that any accident that includes death, bodily injury and/or property damage that exceeds $500 must be reported.
Regardless of whether the police are called, there is some additional information you need to gather for yourself, including:
- The other driver’s name and address
- Contact information for the other driver
- The other driver’s license information
- The other driver’s insurance company and policy information
- Pictures of the accident scene and any damage
- Statements and contact info from any witnesses of the accident
Most insurance companies have accident checklists and mobile apps you can use at the scene to make sure you properly document and save all the essential information that pertains to your accident.
The person who hit your car is responsible for contacting their insurance company, but you should provide their insurance information to your insurance provider when you report the accident.
The other driver might not call their insurance company, so having your insurance company contact them ensures the other driver’s insurance company knows about the accident.
After you’ve collected all the necessary information, your insurance company can get to work and help rectify the situation and get you back on the road as quickly as possible.
Finally, if someone rear-ends you whose insurance do you call? If you’ve gone through this article thoroughly, you now know what to do if someone rear ends you.