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What to Do After a Car Accident

What You Should Do After a Car Accident in New York City

We all hope that we never get into a car accident. This is why most people never really think that one will happen to them. However, statistics show that getting into an accident is always a possibility. As the New York State Department of Health reports, there are almost 700 emergency room visits for every 100,000 New Yorkers. Additionally, between 2012 and 2014, motor vehicle crashes claimed the lives of nearly six out of every 100,000 people in New York.

If you never think you will get into a crash, you may be completely unprepared when one happens to you. Your lack of preparation could be costly. However, here are some steps you can take to protect your right to recover full compensation for your losses after a car accident in New York City:

WHEN YOU ARE AT THE SCENE OF THE ACCIDENT

  1. Stay calm. You may be a little stunned immediately after a crash. You may be confused, disoriented or even a bit dizzy as well. These are all normal responses to trauma. However, you cannot make good decisions if you panic. So, take a few minutes to breathe and gather your thoughts. You will need to think as clearly as possible as you assess the situation.
  2. Stay put. Do not leave the scene of a crash. First, it is against the law. Second, it will  also be very hard for the police to verify the facts of an accident if you leave. Skid marks, leaking fluid and other indicators can serve as strong evidence. By staying put, you will allow a police officer to create an accurate report of where the vehicles collided and who was at fault.
  3. Call for help. You should call 911 and get medical responders and police at the scene to secure it and treat people with injuries. Some people become aggressive or hostile after an accident. So, it will be good for you to know that the police are on the way. The police will also redirect traffic, prevent additional injuries and properly record important information in the accident report. Make sure that you give the police the information they need. However, you should not admit fault or accuse someone else of being at fault.
  4. Document the scene. If possible, you should try to capture as much evidence as you can right at the scene of the crash. Usually, you should take photos of the cars, people and surrounding area. You may also want to take some video footage. Again, unless it is necessary for safety reasons, you should not move any cars.
  5. Exchange necessary information. Police typically will gather both drivers’ names, contact information and insurance information. However, you should also try to get that information from the other driver if you are physically able to do so. The only thing you need to exchange is your name, phone number and insurance policy information. Do not admit fault or talk to the other driver about what happened. Be courteous and simply swap the information.
  6. Get witness names and contact information. If people stop after seeing an accident, it indicates that they are concerned and want to help. Still, a lot of witnesses may be in a rush to leave as they probably have other obligations. You should ask any witnesses for their names and phone numbers so you can give that information to the police when they arrive.

AFTER YOU LEAVE THE SCENE OF THE ACCIDENT

  1. Get medical attention. You really need a doctor to check you for injuries as soon as possible. Some injuries you will be unable to detect on your own such as a traumatic brain injury (TBI), soft tissue injury, spinal cord injury and internal organ damage. If you get medical care right away, you will also document your injuries for your potential legal claim.
  2. Report your crash. Generally, you must notify your own auto insurance provider of the accident. This notice will be essential if you file a claim with your insurer for no-fault benefits under New York law.
  3. Get a copy of your police report. As soon as possible, you should contact the responding police department and ask how you can get a copy of your accident report when it is ready. To submit a paper request to the NYPD, you can use this form, or you can use the online collision report system to retrieve a copy.
  4. Keep good records. You should create a file or folder and hold on to your medical records, receipts, bills, repair estimates, crash report and any letters you receive from any insurance companies. You should also keep a journal or written record of the people you speak with about your accident, the treatment you receive for your injuries and the impact on your ability to work.
  5. Do not talk with the other driver’s insurance company. It is common for the other driver’s insurance company to reach out to you right away. The representative may sound friendly or act like the insurance company is “looking out for you.” However, let’s be clear: Insurance adjusters are trained to get you to say things or sign things that allow the insurer to avoid paying you.  In fact, never do these things without talking to a lawyer first:
    – Give a recorded statement
    – Give access to your medical records
    – Settle your claim
    – Sign documents.
  6. Call a car accident attorney as soon as possible. You can take a few basic steps after a car accident. However, many things that you will encounter after an accident are not so simple. An experienced New York City car accident attorney will know how to navigate your claim through the process and will fight for every penny you are owed.

So, don’t wait to get legal help. Contact Zlotolow & Associates, P.C., and talk with a lawyer right away about your case.