By David B. Lever of Lever & Ecker, PLLC
The last thing anyone wants is to end up in a motor vehicle accident. However, according to the National Safety Council, in 2018, sadly, an estimated 40,000 people lost their lives and about 4.5 million people were seriously injured in car accidents.
If you are unfortunately involved in a car accident, it is very important to follow the six steps outlined below:
1. Call 911
First and foremost, obtain immediate attention for any medical emergency, including a trip to the emergency room if it’s warranted. Next, whether or not anyone appears to be hurt, it’s good to have the police present to prepare an accident report. People can be quick to point fingers or act with hostility in these circumstances, so it’s good to have an unbiased police officer present to help control the situation and provide an objective account of events. If the police choose not to come to the scene because of the minor nature of the accident, it would be wise to file your own police report, and provide a copy to your insurance company.
2. Exchange Information
It’s critical to exchange information with the other driver, including driver’s license, license plate and insurance information. This way, once everyone leaves the scene you will have the necessary information regarding the other individuals who were involved in the accident.
3. Document Everything
Subject to your injuries and state of mind following the accident, try to take pictures and videos of every part of all of the vehicles that were involved in the accident, before moving the vehicles (but only if safe to do so), and obtain contact information from any witnesses to the accident. Preserving evidence is a critical part of the process, including as to vehicle damage and a potential claim for injury.
4. Follow-up With Your Doctor and Attend All Necessary Medical Examinations
A good rule of thumb is to always be safe and get checked out by a doctor after an accident. You may not know the severity of your injuries immediately, as the symptoms may take a few days to develop. Unfortunately, if you wait until a few days after the collision to seek medical treatment, the insurance company will likely try to use that against you. Therefore, if you are in pain, we recommend always seeing a doctor immediately so that you can return to health and work as quickly as possible after the accident.
5. Report The Accident
New York is a “no-fault” insurance state, which means that individuals are generally reimbursed by their insurance companies for damages of various types, regardless of who was responsible for causing the accident. Therefore, it is critical to report your accident to your insurance company as soon as possible. Ask for a claim number and no-fault insurance application so you can cover your medical expenses. In order to preserve your right to seek reimbursement for your lost wages and expenses, you will be required to submit your insurance claim within 30 days. Lastly, in order to seek reimbursement for the property damage to your vehicle, go to an authorized dealer or repair shop to get an estimate of repair costs for the insurance company to review.
6. If You Are Seriously Injured, Call a Personal Injury Lawyer
If you are seriously injured, having the resources that a personal injury lawyer provides can prove invaluable. Personal injury lawyers provides legal services to those who have been injured as a result of the negligence of others, and to pursue compensation on their behalf for the damages they have suffered from such negligence. This includes, for example, pain and suffering, lost income and out-of-pocket expenses.
In the unfortunate event that you are seriously injured in a car accident, it would be wise to contact a personal injury attorney to discuss your potential case.
David B. Lever is a personal injury lawyer at Lever & Ecker, PLLC in White Plains, NY. He advocates for the legal rights of accident victims. Contact him at (914) 288-9191 or [email protected] for more information.