Motor Vehicle Accidents

9 Things to Do After an NY Car Accident

October 26, 2023
Distressed woman clutching head and checking black cellphone after car crash dark vehicle in background daytime

Those few seconds and minutes after a car crash can be overwhelming. You may be unsure what to do first, especially if you’re injured. At RF Injury Law, our attorneys want to help you every step of the way. With that in mind, here are nine key steps you should take after a car accident in NY.

Car Accidents

Car accidents happen every day in New York. Some are minor “fender benders”, while others are high-speed collisions or multi-vehicle pileups. The most common types of crashes are:

  • Head-on crashes
  • Rear-end collisions
  • Rollovers
  • Sideswipe accidents

After a car accident in NY, you usually have two options.

  • File a claim with your own insurance carrier
  • Make a personal injury claim (if someone else caused the crash and you’re suing for damages)

Car Accident Injuries

Some crashes are more serious than others. However, they all have the potential to cause death or serious injury, including:

  • Broken bones
  • Cuts and lacerations
  • Head trauma
  • Internal organ damage
  • Ligament or tendon damage
  • Muscle strains
  • Nerve damage
  • Spinal cord injuries

1. Get Medical Help

The first step after any NY car accident is checking for injuries. If anyone requires immediate medical care, call 911. Don’t attempt to move them.Then, take the following action:

  • If the vehicle is totaled or inoperable, exit and move to a safe location. The sidewalk is fine if you can reach it.
  • If you can drive the vehicle, move it to the side of the roadway if you can.

Moving to a safer location makes it easier for emergency responders to reach the scene. It also helps to protect other road users.

2. Contact Law Enforcement

You don’t need to report every minor collision in NY. However, you must contact the police if:

  • There’s a crash involving injury or death
  • You hit a stationary vehicle and can’t locate the owner
  • A domestic animal gets hurt

What if no one seems injured? Or what if you only have minor injuries such as bruising? Be cautious. Contact the police. Here’s why.

  • If you don’t report the accident and anyone is hurt, it may be considered a “hit and run”. This could lead to criminal charges.
  • Some injuries, such as concussion, take a while to develop. Even if you think you’re okay, you should always err on the side of caution.

Even if you don’t “need” to report a crash, the police can give you an accident report. This document may help prove your insurance claim or civil lawsuit.

3. Take Photos of Injuries and Property Damage

Next, take pictures or videos of any injuries – however minor – and property damage. This includes:

  • Any bodily injury
  • Torn or damaged clothing
  • Vehicle debris
  • Bumps, scrapes, and scratches on your vehicle
  • Damage to other items e.g. cracked cell phone

You can use this evidence to support your version of events and the losses incurred.

Car crash on busy road front collision road debris daytime oncoming vehicles in background

4. Capture the Crash Scene

The more evidence available, the easier it is to prove your claim. That’s why it’s equally important to get evidence from the crash scene itself. Your insurance company and/or attorney can review this evidence and determine what happened.

Try to capture details such as:

  • Weather conditions e.g. icy roads
  • Traffic congestion
  • Skid marks or tire marks
  • Crash site debris e.g. broken glass

If there’s a vehicle defect e.g. the airbag failed to deploy, take pictures of this, too.

5. Exchange Information

Next, exchange details with other driver(s) involved. You should exchange:

  • Insurance information
  • License number
  • Name
  • Vehicle registration

Don’t get into details about the crash – it’s best to just stick to the facts. Otherwise, there’s a risk of saying something which may imply you caused the crash.

If you’re dealing with an uninsured driver, or they flee the scene, call police immediately.

6. Get Medical Care

Even if you don’t “feel” injured, visit your doctor or the ER. Attorneys can use your medical records as evidence in your case. This can make it easier to claim personal injury damages, particularly if you have more complex injuries.

And remember, some injuries are insidious and develop over time. Get cleared by a doctor after a crash.

7. Contact a Personal Injury Attorney

If you’re injured due to another driver’s negligence, call a NY car accident attorney for a free case evaluation. The lawyer will:

  • Consider the evidence
  • Determine if you have a claim
  • Estimate the claim value
  • Handle insurance and legal negotiations for you

If the insurer offers settlement, an attorney can help you decide whether to accept or reject the offer. They’ll ensure you get the most damages possible for your injuries.

8. Obtain an NYC Accident Report

Your accident report in NYC is an official document. It confirms what happened at the scene and, in many cases, describes who caused the crash.

You can get your report by contacting your local police department. Or, your attorney can get it for you.

9. Notify Your Insurance Company & DMV

In NY, you have 30 days to report a crash to your insurer. Otherwise, the policy may not cover your losses.

The sooner you report the crash, the better. Simply follow the steps outlined in your policy and report the incident. Only state facts! Don’t say anything which could be interpreted as admitting fault.

You must also file a report with the DMV within 10 days of the crash if:

  • There are injuries; or
  • Anyone dies due to the crash; or
  • There is property damage worth over $1,000.

Usually this means filing your own accident report. An attorney can help you do this if you’re unsure how to begin.

How RF Injury Law Can Help

If you sustain an injury in a car accident, you need legal advice. Whether you miss work for a few days or you suffer life-changing injuries, you must be fairly compensated. And while no amount of money can make up for your injuries, you deserve to enforce your legal rights.

At RF Injury Law, our accident lawyers will work tirelessly on your behalf. We will handle every step of the process so you can focus on recovery. No matter what type of injuries you have, we’re here to help.

For a free consultation, call us or complete our online form. Or let our mobile law office come to you!

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