A car accident in Bronx, NY

Image Credit: Ricky Norris/Flickr

According to Association for Safe International Road Travel, over 37,000 people die in road crashes each year in the United States with an additional 2.35 million ending up injured or disabled.

In fact, motor vehicle traffic crashes were the leading cause of injury related death for New York State residents.

If you happen to be happen to be involved in a car accident in New York, will you know how to react in the after effects? How you deal with the aftermath of a traffic collision can possibly prevent additional injuries and speed up the repair process.

The following basic steps can help better prepare you in the case that you get into a car accident.

Preparation

The statistics from car insurance industry experts show that you will file a claim for collision once every 17.9 years which is why you should have an action plan in place in case you’re ever involved in an auto collision.

You should have a pen and paper in your glove compartment to take notes as well as your insurance card.

You may also want to consider having a set of cones, warning triangles, or emergency flares in the trunk of your car to help alert traffic.

What To Do After A Car Accident

By taking the following steps immediately after a car accident, you can make the process of filing a claim a bit easier.

Safety First

If you were involved in a minor fender bender, such as another car rear-ending you, and there are no serious injuries, then you should move your automobile so that it doesn’t block oncoming traffic and move your car to an area that is easily visible to upcoming cars.

Leaving your car parked in the middle of the highway or busy road can increase the possibility of further accidents and injuries.

Prior to moving your car off the road, take some photographs showing the damage to your vehicle and accident location, but only if you’re able to do so safely.

If your car cannot be moved, then remain in the car and make sure that everyone inside has their seatbelts fastened until assistance arrives. While waiting, make sure to turn on your hazard lights as a way to warn oncoming traffic.

If you need to get out of your car at any time prior to help coming, such as to take photographs of the accident or exchange information, make sure to exit on the opposite side of incoming traffic, even if that means that you need to crawl to the passenger side of the car.

When assessing damage from the accident or exchanging information, try to stand behind or in front of the cars – make sure to avoid standing beside it on the side where incoming traffic is coming from.

Exchange Information

New York State Vehicle and Traffic Law requires that you stop and exchange information with any involved drivers regardless of how minor the accident is. In cases where you have hit a parked vehicle, caused property damage, or injured a domestic animal, then you must locate the owner or contact the police.

After you and the other driver are in a safe spot, some of the information that you will want to exchange or take note of includes the following:

  • Name, address and phone number of the driver of the car
  • Insurance company and policy number – if the name of the insured is different then the driver, determine the relationship is between the two
  • Drive license number
  • Make and model of the car as well as license plate number

Contact The Police

Even if you think that you can resolve the issue yourself, you should contact the police as any damages and/or injuries may be more serious than you realize. Even if you’re involved in a minor accident, a police officer can help sort things out. Additionally, you’ll have an official record of the accident which can help you if you decide to file a claim in the future.

If anyone has been seriously injured by the accident then you must call for an ambulance. DO NOT attempt to treat the injured person yourself or try and move them as it’s possible that you may make the injury worse.

Witnesses

If there are any witnesses to the accident, attempt to get their name as well as contact information.

Reporting The Accident To The DMV

If any property damage caused has exceeded $1,000 or if a person was injured or killed, New York State Vehicle and Traffic Law requires you to file a report (MV-104) within 10 days. Failure to do so can allow the DMV to suspend your license.

Liability

When exchanging information with the other driver or discussing the accident with the police, it’s important that you do not admit fault or apologize for the accident, even if you feel that you are responsible.

Any information that you give to the police or to the other driver can be used against you in future proceedings. Instead, you should first speak with your insurance company, a lawyer or both.

Notify Your Insurance Company

It’s important to notify your insurance company immediately about the accident, even if you aren’t planning on filing a claim. As opposed to reporting an accident occurred to your insurance company, filing a claim means having your insurance company pay for any car repairs and/or medical bills.

Even if you and the other driver agree that the expenses will be paid out of pocket, you should report the accident to your insurance company as they have a right to cancel your insurance or deny coverage if they haven’t been notified within a reasonable time (typically within a day or two).

New York is a no-fault insurance state which means that you must collect first from your insurance provider, regardless of who caused the accident, unless you meet the serious injury threshold.

This is why it’s important to report the accident to your insurance company. You, or the other driver, might decide that the out-of-pocket costs are too great, and therefore try to make a claim based on the accident. If you failed to report the incident to your insurance company, you can count on the insurer looking to deny coverage.

Seeking Compensation Beyond No Fault Coverage

You have the right to sue for personal injury losses including:

  • Medical expenses exceeding $50,000
  • Injuries that result in serious disfigurement, dismemberment, fracture, or other injuries as defined by the serious injury threshold in Article 51 of the Insurance Law
  • Injuries resulting in death

 Contact a New York Car Accident Lawyer

If the car accident involved any injuries, property damage or resulted in the death of a friend or loved one, you may be entitled to seek compensation in addition to what No-Fault insurance will pay.

If you believe that you are entitled to additional compensation then you should seek the counsel of an experienced New York auto accident attorney.