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Answers to 10 FAQs About Car Accidents

We can all expect to get involved in at least one crash – and maybe more – over the course of our lifetime. In fact, the insurance industry estimates that the typical driver will be in an auto accident about once every 17.9 years, Forbes reports. Even if you are a safe driver, you can’t stop others from acting carelessly and crashing into you.

We may realize that a car accident is a possibility every time we pull into the street in New York City and elsewhere. Still, many of us don’t know what to do after a car accident or understand how the process of filing an insurance claim and/or personal injury lawsuit works.

Here are answers to 10 of the most common questions that people in New York have about car accidents:

1. What is the best way to avoid getting in a car accident?

Alcohol use remains one of the biggest risk factors in automobile collisions. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that alcohol plays a role in about 31 percent of all traffic deaths. Again, you cannot stop other people from drinking, texting, reading or doing other distracting things while driving. However, by staying alert, sober and focused at all times, you give yourself the best chance of avoiding a crash.

2. What is the first thing I should do if I’m in a car accident?

First, check yourself and others for injuries. Call 911 right away so police can arrive, secure the scene and file a report about the crash. You should then move on to getting medical attention immediately. You want to make sure that a doctor diagnoses and treats your injuries as soon as possible.

3. Will my insurance premiums go up after a car accident?

If you are at fault in a car wreck, your insurance premiums will likely go up. This is called a surcharge. According to the Department of Financial Services, New York generally permits accident surcharges in two scenarios: (1) You cause a wreck that hurts someone or damages property; or (2) you are convicted of certain traffic violations. Otherwise, you should not be concerned about your premiums after a crash.

4. What will happen to my car if it is towed?

Towing and storage companies charge high prices. If you must tow your car, you should try to use your own service through an auto club or your insurance company. If the police tow your car, you should do everything you can to get your vehicle out of storage fast. If possible, you should try to get a photo of all cars involved in a crash before they are moved or towed away.

5. Should I go to the hospital if I feel okay?

You do not necessarily have to go to the emergency room. Still, as early as possible, you should call your primary care doctor as early as possible and schedule an appointment. Don’t diagnose yourself. A doctor should thoroughly examine you and start your treatment.

6. What happens if the other driver is uninsured?

New York ranks second in the nation for the most insured drivers, with only about six percent of the drivers on our roads lacking the required insurance, according to the Insurance Information Institute. Still, you face the risk of getting into a crash with an uninsured driver. An attorney can guide you through your options. Those options may include filing a claim through your own uninsured motorist (UM) policy.

7. Who should I call first?

Call the police first. Use your own judgment, but if you were heading to work, you should let your employer know you were in a wreck. Once you have received medical attention, and a doctor or hospital has checked you out, you should call an experienced personal injury attorney right away.

8. What should I say when talking to the insurance company?

In short: nothing. The insurance company wants to pay as little as possible to resolve your claim. So, anything you say to the insurer can – and most likely will – be used against you. If an insurer contacts you, then you should refer the insurer to your attorney.

9. Do I really need to hire a lawyer?

Not always. If liability is clear, and your damages are minimal, then you may be able to pursue your claim without a lawyer’s assistance. Still, since a consultation is free. You should at least sit down and discuss the situation with a lawyer and receive guidance before you make that decision.

10. How do auto accident lawyers get paid? 

It depends on the law firm. However, at Zlotolow & Associates, P.C., we do not charge for initial consultations. Additionally, we do not charge any legal fees unless we secure compensation for you through a settlement or judgment. If we obtain an award for you, our fees will represent a percentage of that amount. To learn more, contact us today.

How to Prepare for a Free Consultation with a Car Accident Attorney

You want to accomplish two main goals when you go through a free consultation with a lawyer after a car accident in New York City:

  • First, you want to tell your side of the story. You want to explain how the accident happened, describe your injuries and discuss how your injuries have affected your ability to work and function as you normally would. The lawyer should listen closely to you and get information the lawyer will need to assess your case.
  • Second, you want to determine if the lawyer is the right one for you. You will want to learn about your legal rights and options and the role that a lawyer can play throughout your case. You will also want to know about the lawyer’s background and success with cases similar to your own.

In order to meet those two goals, you need to be ready. Take these four steps to prepare for your free consultation with a car accident lawyer:

1. Gather all of your documents.

You should be able to describe your accident and your injuries better if you collect and bring documents to your consultation such as the police accident report, vehicle damage estimate and medical bills. You will also help the lawyer to understand your crash if you have photos and the names of eyewitnesses that the lawyer can contact after the consultation.

2. Write down a summary of your accident and injuries.

Memory fades over time. So, while the details are still fresh in your head, you should write down a summary of what you recall about the accident. What do you remember seeing, hearing or even smelling in the moments before the crash occurred? What were you and your passengers doing? You should also keep a journal that tracks your recovery from your injuries. Your summary will help you to explain your case to the lawyer during your consultation.

3. Come with questions.

You should be ready to ask as many questions as you have about your potential car accident claim. For instance, you may want to know how much you could possibly recover in an insurance claim and/or lawsuit, or you may want to know how long your case could take to resolve. Additionally, you should feel free to ask about the lawyer’s training and experience and the lawyer’s approach to serving clients.

4. Be prepared for an open and honest discussion of your case.

Finally, you need to be ready to talk about your case in an open and honest way with the lawyer. If you think that you may be partially at fault, you should tell the lawyer. At the same time, you should expect to receive a frank assessment of your case from the lawyer. For example, the lawyer may explain problems or issues that could arise as you pursue compensation.

Remember: The most important thing you should do after a car accident in New York City is to talk with a lawyer and learn more about your case – even if you cannot be “fully prepared” for the meeting. To get started, contact Zlotolow & Associates, P.C, in Sayville and Manhattan.

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