Most New Yorkers are fortunate to have never been in a major motor vehicle accident. While this is a good thing, it can make it difficult to know what to do if you are involved in a crash. This is particularly true given that car accidents can be incredibly stressful and traumatic.
In the heat of the moment, it can be hard to remember what you should do to protect your rights. The most important thing that you should do is seek medical treatment for your injuries and to take steps to stay safe from traffic. Beyond that, you should avoid saying anything that could hurt your claim – and then make an appointment with a White Plains car accident attorney as soon as possible.
At the Law Offices of Thomas L. Gallivan, we are fierce advocates for injury victims. Our auto accident attorneys work hard to help our clients get maximum compensation for their injuries and never charge a fee unless we get money for you. To learn more or to schedule a free initial consultation with a member of our legal team, reach out to our law firm today.
What You Should Do After a Motor Vehicle Accident in New York
After a car accident, you might be confused, scared, and/or in pain. In this situation, you may not know exactly what to do. Following these steps can help to keep you safe – and will protect your right to financial compensation.
Step 1: Stay on the Scene – Safely
In New York, it is illegal to leave the scene of an accident without, at a minimum, exchanging insurance and contact information with the other driver. This is true even if the accident was relatively minor, and did not cause any injuries. If the accident resulted in an injury or death to a person or domestic animal or property damage where the owner is not present, then you must immediately call the police and stay on the scene until they arrive.
Of course, you should also make sure that you are safe when talking to the other driver and/or waiting for law enforcement to arrive. If possible, move your vehicles onto the shoulder. Stay out of traffic, even if you cannot move your vehicle. You can also put up flares from your emergency kit to warn other drivers about the crash.
Step 2: Check for Injuries
Next, you should check yourself and your passengers for any injuries. If it is safe to do so, you should check the other driver and passengers for injuries. If anyone is injured, call 911. Keep in mind that New York law requires that the police be called if anyone involved in a motor vehicle accident – including pedestrians and passengers – suffers an injury.
If you have suffered an injury, you should seek medical treatment as soon as possible. Getting medical care is critical to obtaining the right diagnosis and treatment. It also establishes a link between the crash and your injuries, which can be important when putting together an accident claim.
Step 3: Call the Police
As noted above, you are required to call 911 immediately after a traffic accident where:
- Any person is injured or killed;
- A domestic animal is injured or killed; or,
- A parked vehicle or any other property is damaged, and the owner cannot be located.
Having law enforcement come to the accident scene can also be helpful to your personal injury lawsuit. The police will take witness statements, make notes on things like the position of vehicles and weather conditions, and take photos of the scene. The resulting police report will likely be helpful when it comes time for your White Plains car accident lawyer to file an insurance claim.
Step 4: Exchange Insurance and Contact Information
In addition to potentially calling 911, you should also talk to the other driver to exchange insurance and contact information. As noted above, you cannot leave the accident scene until you take this step – even if the crash only involved property damage.
At a minimum, you should get the names, contact information, driver’s license numbers, and car insurance details of all other drivers involved. Taking a picture of an insurance card, driver’s license, and/or license plate can help you avoid any errors. If there are any witnesses, you can also use this time to get their contact information.
Step 5: Gather Evidence
If you can, you should take this time to gather evidence about the accident. In addition to identifying everyone involved and getting contact information, you should take pictures and videos of the vehicles and the scene. Make sure to get pictures of things like skid marks on the road, anything blocking drivers’ views (such as an overgrown shrub), and the existence of surveillance cameras on nearby homes and businesses.
You can also take pictures and videos of your injuries. All of this evidence can be used to prove liability and to bring a successful claim against the at-fault driver’s insurance company.
Step 6: Be Careful About What You Say
Even if you think that you were at fault – or just reflexively apologize – you should be incredibly careful about what you say to the other driver, any witnesses, and the police. Do not admit fault, or make any promises to the other driver.
Keep in mind that even if you think that you were to blame for the crash, other facts may emerge that prove that the other driver – or another factor, like a defective car part – was actually to blame. Sticking to the basic facts is the best way to protect your legal rights.
Step 7: Write Out What You Can Remember
When you get home, take some time to write out what happened. Our memories tend to fade over time, so writing or typing out a statement can be important. Try to include details such as the location and time of the accident, the direction that you were driving, what you were doing at the time of the crash, and what the other driver was doing at the time of the accident.
Step 8: Notify Your Insurance Company
Even if you were not at fault for the accident, your car insurance policy requires you to promptly report all accidents. If you don’t report an accident, it could jeopardize your insurance coverage.
Reporting the accident does not mean that you will file a claim with your insurance company.
Step 9: File an Accident Report
In New York, you are required to file an accident report with the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) if you are involved in a car accident where a person is injured or killed, or if there is property damage for one person in excess of $1,000. This law only applies to drivers, not to passengers or pedestrians. The Report of Motor Vehicle Accident (MV-104) must be filed within 10 days of the crash.
Step 10: Talk to a Personal Injury Lawyer
Finally, you should schedule a free consultation with a White Plains car accident attorney as soon as possible. During this appointment, you will have the opportunity to tell your story. Your lawyer will then offer you legal advice and options for pursuing a claim.
Consulting with a lawyer does not mean that you will be filing a lawsuit or even that you will hire them. Instead, it is a way to understand more about what you can do if you do decide to pursue a claim.
Insurance companies have teams of adjusters and lawyers on their side, all of whom are working to protect their interests. The best way to ensure that you get maximum compensation for your lost wages, property damage, medical bills, pain and suffering, and other losses is by working with a seasoned New York personal injury lawyer.
How a White Plains Car Accident Lawyer Can Help
Being in a car accident can be scary. In the days and weeks that follow, you may not know what to do. One of the best things that you can do to protect yourself is to reach out to a White Plains auto accident lawyer to schedule a free consultation.
The Law Offices of Thomas L. Gallivan represent people throughout New York who have been hurt in all types of accidents. We offer free initial consultations and never charge a fee unless we recover money for you. To learn more or to schedule an appointment, give us a call at 914-220-1086 or fill out our online contact form.
The Insurance Company Is Offering Me a Settlement. Do I Really Need a Lawyer?
Yes. Even if you were involved in a relatively minor collision, you should still have legal representation. A lawyer will protect your interests and make sure that you get maximum compensation for your losses.
Studies show that people who are represented by counsel recover an average of 40% more compensation than people who represent themselves. In White Plains, call the Law Offices of Thomas L. Gallivan to schedule a free initial consultation with a member of our legal team.
How Can I Afford to Hire an Attorney?
Personal injury attorneys work on a contingency fee basis. This means that you pay nothing upfront, and only pay a fee if they recover money for you through a settlement or verdict at trial. Your attorney’s fee will then be a percentage of your total recovery.
Contingency fee arrangements align your interests with your lawyer’s. They also make it possible for anyone to hire a lawyer – even if they don’t have extra cash to pay out of pocket. Contact the Law Offices of Thomas L. Gallivan to talk to a White Plains car accident lawyer about your claim.
Related: Passenger in a Car Accident