What You Should do if You are Involved in a Car Accident
If you are injured in a car accident in New York, there are several things you should do to ensure that your rights are protected and to obtain proper compensation for your injuries. At the Bronx Law Office of Mark A. Siesel, we understand how vital it is for our clients to be well informed when they suffer injuries through the negligence of another driver.Stop Your Car In a Safe Location
Generally speaking, after an accident, if at all possible, the vehicles should be kept in the position that they were in after the collision occurs to assist the police in their investigation of the accident in determining the culpability of the parties. However, many car crashes occur on high speed roads such as highways or parkways. In these situations, the primary concern should be to move the vehicles off the road onto a shoulder or other off road location, for the safety of the occupants of the cars and those on the roadway. When exiting your car, make sure it is safe to do so—many people are injured by other cars as they are leaving their vehicle after an accident.Contact the Police
You have a legal obligation to contact the police when an accident occurs, both under The New York Vehicle & Traffic Law and pursuant to your automobile insurance policy. If you fail to report an accident to the Department of Motor Vehicles, this could lead to negative implications for your driving privileges, and if you don’t report the accident to your insurance carrier, this could result in a denial of no-fault benefits.Do Not Refuse Medical Treatment
Immediately after an unexpected event such as a car accident, people are often in shock and not thinking clearly. However, even in accidents with what are known as “minor impacts”, often drivers and passengers suffer whiplash, concussions and more severe injuries that may become more painful in the hours and the days shortly after the accident. When the police and emergency personnel arrive, it is always preferable to be on the safe side and obtain medical attention. Even if you make the decision to not take an ambulance to the local emergency room, you should follow up that day with a primary care physician, urgent care facility, or go the emergency room yourself. Keep in mind that in cases that are litigated, a refusal to obtain medical treatment and failure to report any injuries to the investigating police officer will be noted on the police report, and have a definitive negative effect on your case, both in the claims stage with liability insurance companies, and in Court if the case proceeds to trial.Obtain As Much Evidence As Possible At The Scene Of The Accident
Without question, your first priority after an accident is to obtain the necessary medical care and make sure that the authorities are contacted. However, if you are physically able, or if you are not, but you are with family or friends who can do so, there are several things you should do while still at the scene:
- Obtain the names, addresses, phone numbers and email addresses of any and all witnesses to the accident;
- Take notes of the road conditions such as potholes and skid marks, the weather, traffic conditions, and any roadway obstructions or signs;
- Take photographs from all angles of any vehicles involved in the accident, (This is very important as it is significant evidence of the extent of the impact, which is closely reviewed by insurance companies and juries) and of any roadway debris, which is utilized by accident reconstruction experts to assess the respect fault of drivers in an accident;
- Take photographs of the scene of the accident, including signs, trees, roadway defects, and obstacles (for example, a large vehicle or construction blocking part of the roadway) from the perspective of both drivers. Again, if this is impossible due to injuries, request that someone nearby do so and send the photographs to you.
After an accident, there is often noticeable bruising, cuts or other trauma which is evidence of the severity of the collision. It is very important that you document these injuries with photographs on a regular basis, as this is proof that insurance companies will request. Further, you should keep notes of the effects of the accident on your “activities of daily living”, such as ability to perform household chores, child care, work responsibilities, and also to document your pain level and medications you are taking.Report the Accident
As soon as possible after the accident, report the accident to your insurance company, as there are specific requirements to do so under the no-fault provisions of New York State Insurance Law. Additionally, you will be required to provide paperwork to your insurance company with regard to the accident, your injuries, medical treatment and loss of earnings. Your failure to do so promptly can lead to a loss of benefits which you are entitled to.Do Not Speak With The Other Driver’s Insurance Representatives And Under No Circumstances Should You Sign Anything
After an accident, knowing that people injured in car crashes do not have an attorney yet, insurance representatives often call injured victims of accidents to obtain a recorded statement about the accident and their injuries, in the hope that the injured person will provide some information which will harm their case. Further, these representatives will sometimes call, or lately, show up at people’s doors, with a minimal offer of settlement, along with a request that the person forego their legal rights by signing a general release.You should absolutely not speak with the insurance adjuster for the other driver(s) and definitely do not sign any papers they present you with whatsoever.Speak With An Attorney
If you have suffered injuries in a car crash through the negligence of another driver, you should contact an experienced and knowledgeable personal injury lawyer to discuss your case and your legal rights. At The Law Offices of Mark A. Siesel, our lawyers are dedicated to ensuring that each client obtains proper compensation for all of their injuries. Contact us online for your free consultation today.