The aftermath of a car accident can be chaotic, particularly if you have been injured. You, your passengers, and others involved in the accident are often taken by surprise and may need a few moments to focus. However, there are certain things that you should do in the aftermath of an accident, and there are also things that New York law requires you to do. Failure to complete certain post-accident activities may jeopardize your claim against a negligent driver for injuries you suffered or for damage to your property. Furthermore, a Syracuse car accident lawyer warns that failure to follow the requirements of New York law following a car accident may result in you being faced with penalties even if you were not at fault for the accident. Here are things that you must do if you are in a car accident.
Stop and Call the Police
Regardless of the seriousness of an accident, you should always call the police. It is important to get a police report documenting the specifics of the accident. If you need to file a claim against the other driver, a police report taken at the scene of the accident can be critical later on in pinpointing fault. In addition, New York law requires that if you are in an accident where someone is injured or property is damaged, you must show your driver’s license to the person who was injured or whose property was damaged, and you must give that person your name and address. Or you can provide that information to a police officer. If the other driver refuses to cooperate or tries to convince you that insurance will “handle it” and a police report is not necessary, do not listen.
Make sure you get the following information from the other driver: name, address, driver’s license number, license plate number, color/make/model of the vehicle, and the name of the owner of the vehicle. This information is important to ensure that you will be able to later contact the other driver. It is also critical information to report to your insurance company.
Get Medical Attention
If you are injured get medical attention at the scene. Make sure an ambulance is called. In addition to ensuring that your injury is cared for, getting immediate medical attention will help support your later claim about the severity of your injuries.
Get the Names of Witnesses
Get the names and contact information of as many witnesses as possible. Third party witness statements can be vital if there is a dispute as to fault.
Take Photos of the Accident
Use your cellphone to take photos of the accident from several angles. Also take pictures of the road to document skid marks and road conditions. Photos can be important demonstrative evidence to support or refute witness testimony.
Report Accident to the Commissioner of Motor Vehicles
New York law requires that you must report to the Commission of Motor Vehicles any accident where there is a fatality or injury, or where there is property damage that exceeds $1,000. You must submit this written report within 10 days of the accident. If you are unable, then another participant or the owner of the vehicle must submit the report. Failure to do so is a misdemeanor that could result in the suspension or revocation of your driver’s license or vehicle registration.
Report the Accident to Your Insurance Company
Immediately report the accident to your insurance company. Any delay may weaken your claim and be grounds for your insurance company to deny your claim. In addition, New York law provides that you have only 30 days to notify your insurance company of a claim for no-fault benefits. No fault benefits are significant, so you do not want to forfeit them by failure to give timely notification of the collision.
What are common things that accident victims fail to do immediately after an accident that ultimately damages their cases?