What to Do in a Car Accident
A car crash can be a jarring and traumatizing experience. You may be facing significant property damage, injury, medical bills, and limited ability to work, as well as emotional trauma from the event. It is important to, as best as you can, keep a cool head after an accident. There are a few important steps to take following a crash to ensure that your health and financial stability are protected. Read on below for tips on what to do after a traffic accident, and contact an experienced New York car crash lawyer if you or a loved one has been hurt in an accident in Goshen, the Hudson Valley, or New York City.
Stop at the scene, report the accident
New York law requires any driver in a crash to stop, exchange information with any other parties involved, and depending on the circumstances of the accident, report the crash to the authorities. If anyone is injured in the accident, you must stop and exchange contact information. If they are seriously hurt, call 911. Any accidents involving injury or property damage must also be reported to the police. If someone is hurt and you flee the scene, you may be charged with a misdemeanor or even a felony, depending on the extent of their injuries.
Get medical help
If you were in anything other than a minor fender-bender, there is a chance you may have been injured. Even low-speed rear-end collisions can cause whiplash. If you are seriously hurt, call 911 and go to a hospital immediately. If you were less severely injured, you should still seek medical attention as soon as practicable. A medical examination may reveal latent injuries such as a concussion or internal bleeding that can get much worse if left untreated. Moreover, the sooner you are diagnosed following an accident, the more difficult it will be for any counterparties to claim that your injuries were caused by anything other than the crash.
Exchange contact info with the other drivers
Before you leave the scene of the crash (assuming you do not need emergency assistance), you should exchange identifying information with any other drivers involved. Get their full name, driver’s license number, license plate number, vehicle identification number, address, and phone number, as well as their insurance company name and policy number.
Take photos, collect documents and evidence
The more relevant evidence you collect and keep following an accident, the stronger your eventual legal claim will be, and the more you may recover of the damages you are owed. Take photos of the scene, your car and other cars involved, and your injuries. If there are any witnesses, ask for their contact information. Keep copies of any documents or records generated, such as police reports, medical bills, or exchanges with your insurance company. When you get a lawyer, provide them with all the documents you have collected.
Be careful what you say
Most people have a default desire to be polite and apologize for any inconvenience, even if they did not actually do anything wrong. We also tend to want to downplay our pain or injuries so as not to worry the people around us. Both of these tendencies can be very harmful to your eventual legal claim, either with your insurance company or with the other party.
Saying “I’m sorry” or “it’s ok, it wasn’t your fault” may feel polite, but it can be used by an attorney to constitute an admission of fault. Saying that you are “fine” after an accident can be used to claim that your injuries were not very severe and limit your ability to seek pain and suffering damages. You may be more seriously injured than even you know; until you see a doctor, you cannot be sure. If you downplay your injuries, you may seriously hamper yourself down the line when trying to have insurance or the at-fault driver cover your medical bills.
Be helpful and courteous to other parties involved and to the authorities, but avoid saying anything that can be construed as an admission of fault or as downplaying your injuries.
Get Advice and Assistance After a Hudson Valley Auto Accident
If you or someone you love has been injured in a traffic crash in New York, find out whether you’re owed money for your accident-related costs by contacting the knowledgeable, dedicated, and effective Goshen and Manhattan personal injury lawyers Dupée & Monroe for a free consultation at 845-294-8900.