A car crash is one of the most unexpected and frightening events that could happen to anyone at any time. According to City of New York data, the sheer volume of vehicles moving in and out of New York City caused more than 8,000 collisions in April 2022 alone. In other words, car crashes are inherently too common, and all drivers should take proper precautions to ensure the safety of themselves and others.
In this article, a New York injury lawyer explains the five things you should do if you have been in a car crash and addresses topics related to seeking medical care, collecting evidence, reporting to your insurer, and understanding your legal rights.
1. Check for Personal Injuries and Seek Medical Care
Your top priority after a car crash is to prevent further injury to yourself and others. Bring your car to a complete stop, check on your passengers, if any, and get to a safe place. Call 9-1-1 from your cellphone immediately, regardless of the severity of the crash.
You should seek medical attention after a car accident even if you do not think you are injured for several reasons, including:
- Could prevent minor injuries from worsening
- Some injuries may not be apparent right away, and there might be delayed symptoms
- Your insurer may require you to get a check-up within a specific period
- There is a paper trail of your accident and injuries if any
Play it safe when it comes to your health. Have a doctor give you a check-up to confirm or deny the presence of any injuries. Otherwise, you could be on the hook for paying medical bills that should have been paid by insurers.
2. Report the Car Crash to the Police
All drivers have legal responsibilities after a car accident. If you are lucid and able to physically do so, you should immediately call the police. You should do this regardless of how minor the accident might seem, and especially if the other driver is trying to avoid getting the police or insurance companies involved.
Under Section 605 of the NY State Vehicle and Traffic Law, NY VAT Law § 605, you are required to report a crash by calling the police from the accident scene if:
- Someone is injured or killed
- Property damage exceeds $1,000
The police report helps you document how the crash happened and all necessary information about the other driver. Their dash and body cameras can capture valuable evidence from the accident scene as well. Finally, an official report gives your insurer more information about your claim.
Related Article: Proving Lost Wages in an Accident Case
3. Collect Evidence and Exchange Information
Car crashes happen in the blink of an eye, and the aftermath is usually a whirlwind of activity. However, you could also lose critical details about the accident, so it is essential to obtain information at the scene.
After exchanging information with the other driver, here are a few ways that you can procure informative evidence in case you need it later on:
- Take photographs of injuries and vehicle damage
- Photograph the surrounding areas
- Write down how the accident happened and its impact on you
- Preserve medical bills and other expenses incurred as a result of the accident
You might have been too injured to collect accident scene evidence. If you were severely injured and taken to a hospital, try to have family or friends take photos of the accident scene. You will definitely want to speak with a New York car crash lawyer to help you handle this aspect of your case.
4. Report to Your Insurer
Upon release from the hospital or doctor's office, you will need to let your insurance company know about the crash. The insurance company will open a claim and give you a claim number. Your insurance company, through PIP/no-fault benefits, will then pay for your medical treatment and medical bills.
Your insurance company will use the accident details to assess your claim and liability.
You will need to provide the insurance company with information, such as:
- Your involvement
- Property damage
- Other driver information and insurance information
- Police notification
- Police accident report
Stick to providing your insurer with minimal details, and avoid deviating away from the facts. For cases involving catastrophic injuries or wrongful death, you may want to seek legal assistance when filing your claim since any errors could cause you to lose a significant amount of compensation early on.
In addition, while you have to communicate with your insurance company to a certain degree, you should not speak with the other driver's insurance company. They will use anything said against you in a future case and will likely try to lowball you with a small settlement offer. It is best to hire an attorney to handle discussions with any insurance companies.
Related Article: How Much Is My Car Accident Injury Case Worth?
5. Understand Your Legal Rights
Insurers will pay you as little as possible after your car crash. Their job is just that – pay out as little as possible. Our job as injury attorneys is to maximize your compensation so that you are fairly compensated for your injuries. So, it is important to understand that you also have the legal right to demand every dollar you are owed. An attorney can help you understand and assert those legal rights toward a better personal injury case outcome.
Some situations that could benefit from legal representation include:
- Accidents involving catastrophic injuries or multiple parties
- Damages exceed personal injury protection (PIP) coverage limits
- Disputes about whether the at-fault party was negligent
- Crashes involving industrial and commercial vehicles or trucks
- Hit-and-run accidents
- Uncertainty about your claim's value
- Believing you received a low settlement offer
- Insurers taking too long to pay your claim
Certain deadlines apply when pursuing a car crash claim or lawsuit per NY Civil Practice Law & Rules § 214, meaning you need to file your lawsuit within three years of the date of the accident. Otherwise, you will lose your compensation rights.
Related Article: How Much Time Do I Have to File an Injury Lawsuit in New York?
Speak With An Experienced Injury Lawyer
Hunt & Associates will help you understand your options and what you can do after a New York car crash. Our legal team understands how accident injuries caused by someone else can impact your work and daily life. You can count on us to demand a fair award that pays for your medical bills, lost wages, mental anguish, pain and suffering, and more.
Get a Free Consultation With Hunt & Associates Today
Our law firm fights for compensation after a car crash, and we can help you, too. Call Hunt & Associates at (866) 456-HUNT (4868) or send us a message online for a Free Consultation. If you hire us, we do not get paid until we get compensation for you. There are no legal fees unless we obtain a settlement for you.
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