As the weather improves this Spring, more and more people will continue to descend on the NYC streets. As a result, the risk of pedestrian accidents – cases where a motor vehicle strikes a person walking near the street – continues to rise. These dangerous incidents can happen at a moment's notice with no forewarning, and the traumatic injuries caused by an automobile can be devastating. In 2020, there were a total of 6,505 pedestrian accidents in NYC, and 6,411 caused a car accident injury, while 94 of these pedestrian accidents were fatal.
In this article, a personal injury lawyer in NYC shares five things to do if you have been in a pedestrian accident.
Step 1. Call 911 and Seek Medical Treatment
Depending on the severity of the accident, you may not be able to use your phone to call the police or dial 911. But even in a minor accident where you feel your injuries are not that significant, you should still call 911 and have the police come to the scene. You will want there to be a record of the accident, especially in a formal police report.
In addition, you need to seek medical treatment as soon as possible. Sometimes, the symptoms of an injury may not manifest until hours after an accident. Even an injury to the head, like a concussion, may not exhibit symptoms until later on. So you may not feel the immediate impact of an injury right away, but it does not mean you are not injured. You should seek medical care immediately.
Both New York and New Jersey require immediate notification to police when a personal injury or death occurs.
Below are the accident reporting statutes for New York and New Jersey:
- New York: File a commissioner report within ten days of your accident if you incurred more than $1,000 in medical bills or property damage per NY VAT Law § 605.
- New Jersey: File a commissioner report within ten days of your accident if you incurred more than $500 in medical bills or property damage per NJSA § 39:4-130.
After a pedestrian accident, the words you write down and submit will impact you later. You must complete the required report forms truthfully and accurately. Avoid making guesses or false statements, and stick to the facts.
Step 2. File an Insurance Claim
You should file a claim with your automobile insurance carrier so that your medical treatment will be covered and paid for under the PIP/no-fault provision of your automobile insurance policy (even if you were not driving your car or in your car at the time). Your insurance policy's language should contain the deadline by which you have to notify them of your accident. Not following through on this requirement could result in a partial or total claim denial.
Seeking immediate medical treatment is important, but of course it can be costly. That is why you should file an insurance claim for PIP/no-fault benefits so your medical treatment is covered. An experienced injury lawyer can assist you with this process.
Related Article: Pedestrian Accidents In NYC Are On The Rise
Step 3. Collect and Retain All Documentation And Evidence
No one wants to think about evidence after being hit by a vehicle. However, it is critical to maintain a personal injury file if you need to refer to essential details in the future. Doing so could make the difference between getting a fair settlement and one that is less adequate. There are many documents that may become evidence later on in your legal case, so be sure to keep them in an organized file as best you can.
Items you should include your personal injury file are:
- Photographic and video accident scene evidence
- Photos of your injuries
- Police reports
- Eyewitness contact information
- Any witness statements
- All medical records from any hospitals and treating doctors
- Obtain video surveillance from nearby stores and businesses
- Insurance cards
- Medical bills
- Out-of-pocket medical expenses receipts
- Paystubs and W-2 forms
- Specialist reports
- Communications with the insurance company
- Summary of events
You may not feel well enough to assemble this file. The easiest way to deal with document retention is by having a folder and placing copies of accident-related documents inside it when you return home.
Obtaining the names and phone numbers of eyewitnesses is important, as you may need these witnesses to testify in court to prove your case. In addition, photos of the accident scene and of your injuries will also help you later on in proving your case.
Also, before your memory fades, you should draw a diagram on a piece of paper to describe how the accident occurred, showing the street you were on, the direction the vehicle was traveling, and how the vehicle struck you.
Step 4. Follow Through with Doctors' Orders and Treatment
A physician should have treated your initial injuries within 72 hours of the accident and provided aftercare instructions upon release. Ensure you follow their directives closely and call their office if you have follow-up questions. Your health is too important to risk after such a severe event.
It is also worth sharing that healthcare providers may indicate in their records any instances of patient non-compliance. Insurance companies will use this as ammunition to argue that you either (1) made your injuries worse yourself by failing to follow doctor's orders, or (2) are really not that hurt because you aren't following doctors' orders.
Further, you should follow up and make it to all medical appointments. Physicians will also note when you have failed to show up for an appointment. Gaps of time in treatment can be problematic because the insurance companies will use that against you, and argue that you must not be that injured if you are skipping appointments.
Here are five tips for supporting your overall recovery with medical supervision:
- Tip 1. Never skip medical appointments without good reason
- Tip 2. Take all prescriptions as recommended
- Tip 3. Visit with specialists as advised by your doctor
- Tip 4. Meet all diagnostic test and lab requirements
- Tip 5. Adopt recommended lifestyle changes that could improve recovery
That said, avoid partaking in activities that could make your injuries worse. You do not want to reaggravate your injuries and get stuck with the medical bill. Lean on the strength of friends and family during this time when possible.
You should also speak with an experienced injury attorney as soon as possible.
Step 5. Maintain a Pain and Suffering Journal or Diary
Pedestrian accident injuries are usually serious and painful. According to a Western Journal of Emergency Medicine study, urban areas see fewer pedestrian accidents. However, the ones that happen are more severe than in other settings.
Whether you live in New York or New Jersey, you can recover pain and suffering damages from catastrophic injuries. However, you need evidence. While your medical records of your treatment will likely be admissible in court to show the nature of your injuries, you should also maintain a journal or diary describing how your injuries have impacted your everyday life.
On a blank page, take down the following notes every day:
- Your pain scale rating from zero to ten (ten being the worst)
- What medications you took
- How much relief your medications provided
- What side effects you experienced from prescriptions
- How the sensation of pain has limited your activities
- What activities did you used to do prior to the accident that you can no longer do?
- What daily activities (grocery shopping, taking garbage out, picking up children) are you no longer able to do without pain?
- How your suffering has affected relationships
- What treatments make the pain go away
- If you missed work or experienced limitations on the job
- If you missed out on social events and activities
This information will prove valuable to describe to a jury in court how the accident negatively affected your life. When you do this as the information is fresh in your mind, you avoid trying to fill them in from memory at a later date. This could help prove pain and suffering damages in court.
Related Article: What Are Pain and Suffering Damages?
Get Legal Advice When Dealing With Pedestrian Injuries
It is critical to speak with an experienced injury attorney in order to make sure your next steps are correct. A New York City pedestrian accident injury attorney can help you pursue your case and get the settlement you deserve.
Call Hunt & Associates for a Free, No-Obligation Consultation
Hunt & Associates fights aggressively on behalf of injury victims. We welcome you to connect with us at no cost or obligation. Call (866) 456-HUNT (4868) or message us online for a Free Consultation. There is no cost and there are no attorneys' fees unless we recover compensation for you.
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