5 Pieces of Car Accident Advice You Need To Know If You Were In a Car Accident
The moments just after a car accident can be chaotic and confusing. You will have many questions. Questions like: Should I call the police? Do I need to notify my insurance company? Who will pay the emergency room bill? While the circumstances of car accidents are usually different, here are 5 basic pieces of car accident advice that are usually helpful for anyone involved in a car accident.
1. Don’t Leave the Scene of an Accident
Never leave the scene of an accident. Under New York State Vehicle and Traffic Law 600(1)(a), leaving the scene of a car accident can result in serious criminal charges and fines. In fact, a person who commits a hit and run accident can even be charged with a felony, a crime that can result in prison time of more than one year, if the circumstance contained in VTL Section 600(2)(a) are present. As a result, it is important to stay at the scene of an accident until help arrives.
2. Move Your Car to a Safe Place
Another piece of car accident advice is simple: you should move your car away from moving traffic as quickly as possible. You should also stay inside of your car until help arrives. Exiting and walking around your car is a mistake because of the very real danger of a passing car hitting you. In fact, this is such a real danger that New York State recently enacted a statute called the “move over law” or VTL Section 1144-a. This law requires motorists to “move over” (or at least slow down) when approaching emergency vehicles, like police vehicles, that are stopped on the side of the road. This statute protects those whose job responsibilities include the dangerous act of getting out of their vehicles next to moving traffic.
3. Call the Police
After you have moved your car to a safe position, remain calm and call the police. The police will respond to the accident scene and interview the parties involved to learn each driver’s “version” of the accident. The police will also assess whether any of the drivers were impaired by drugs or alcohol. Causing an accident that results in personal injury or death because of drunk or impaired driving is a serious crime in New York State. New York’s VTL Section 119 prohibits driving of a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. It is a tough law that can result in significant jail time, loss of your driver’s license, and fines.
You should also cooperate with police and explain what happened. Police officers who respond to the scene will usually complete an accident report. These reports are extensive and include a variety of important information, including the names and address of all drivers involved, as well as their insurance companies. At times, it may even include statements made by the parties involved in the accident.
4. Even if Police are at the Scene of the Accident, Get some Information Yourself
Even if police respond to the scene of an accident, it is still important that you get certain basic information about the accident and the people involved. This is true because your police report will not be available immediately. In fact, it can take several weeks before a police accident report is available. At minimum, you should take some basic information about the other drivers involved including:
- Name, address, and contact information
- Driver’s license numbers
- License plate numbers
- Car insurance details
Witnesses are also very important. While the police report does have a section for potential witnesses, sometimes witnesses will leave the scene before police arrive. As a result, look around for anyone who may have witnessed the accident. If you do find a witness who is helpful but needs to leave for some reason, take down their contact information and make arrangements to speak at a more convenient time.
Additionally, you should take photos/video of the accident scene as well as the vehicles involved. This is especially easy to do with a smart phone. You should take pictures of the cars involved, as well as a wider shot of the accident scene. The wider shot should show the location of the cars in relation to any roadway markings. This type of evidence could be important in establishing liability or responsibility for the accident. Again, be careful when taking pictures at the scene of an accident, as this could be potentially dangerous.
5. Seek out Medical Help Immediately – If You are Hurt
Responding police officers will usually ask if you were hurt in the accident. If you were hurt, go to the emergency room for treatment. It is important that you tell the doctors at the hospital all of the pains and problems you are having as a result of the accident, and not just the ones that are bothering you most. Also, even if you do not have health care insurance coverage, your hospital bill will be covered by your car insurance under New York’s No-Fault Insurance laws.
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If you have any questions concerning what you need to do right after a car accident, you can email our office, or call (800) 762-9300. You can also fill out one of our case intake forms, and we will have one of our attorneys get right back to you.
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