Important Steps to Take if in a New York Car Accident

Car accidents are stressful and confusing. One of the best ways to cope with an accident is to know what you should do after one occurs.

Steps to Take:

  • Medical assistance. If you or another party is seriously injured, your top priority is to call 911 right away and ask for medical assistance. Do not try to apply First Aid if you are not trained to do so. Unless people are in danger of losing their lives, do not move them, especially if they are unconscious. Even if it seems that you did not suffer any injuries, it is wise to see a doctor because some symptoms may not develop right away. This is particularly true of whiplash, which is a common injury, especially in rear end accidents.
  • Police report. Under New York Law, you must call the police if serious injury or significant car damage (over $1,000) occurs. When the police arrive, you can provide them with your perspective of what occurred in the accident.
  • DMV report. If property damages exceed $1,000 or serious injury occurred, you must file a Report of Motor Vehicle Accident with the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) within 10 days of the accident.
  • Information exchange. You should exchange the following information with parties involved in the accident: driver’s license, vehicle registration, and insurance carrier name and policy number.
  • Evidence gathering. If you are capable and not badly injured, it is wise to take photos of your car and the other driver’s car, the road and any other property damage that occurred. Obtain the phone numbers of any witnesses present. At your first opportunity, write down everything you can remember about the accident including the weather, traffic conditions and how the accident took place.
  • Insurance company report. New York law requires that all drivers carry no-fault auto insurance. Insurance policies state that policyholders must notify the carrier within a certain time after the accident. To protect your rights to insurance coverage, you should call and report your accident as soon as possible.

When should you contact an attorney?

When property damage and injuries are substantial, it is wise to consult with an experienced personal injury lawyer as soon as you can. You may be facing costly expenses that exceed your insurance policy coverage or serious injuries that require significant medical care. If another party was at fault for causing the accident, an attorney can help hold the party accountable and obtain compensation for damages. All too often, insurance companies try to settle cases quickly to avoid expense, but this may not be in your best interests.