A car accident can cause lifelong injuries and huge amounts of money in damages to you and your car. To make matters worse, receiving fair and just compensation from those liable can be confusing and demoralizing.
To receive the compensation you need after an auto accident, document the crash thoroughly, consult with insurance and legal advisers, and treat your injuries immediately. Unfortunately, most people aren’t thinking completely clearly right after an accident.
We hope that by going over this list regularly, your “to-do” list will start to become second nature.
1. Make Sure Everyone Is Safe
Before you collect any information, be sure that everyone is safe. Call 911 or the police department to get emergency responders to the scene. Ask drivers, passengers, and witnesses about any pains or symptoms they may be experiencing. Get injuries treated immediately as to not further the damage or put anyone at a risk for more injuries.
Before attempting to exchange information, ensure any injured persons receive the medical attention necessary.
2. Create a Car Accident Report and Exchange Contact Information
This is often the most stressful and awkward part of a car accident, but it also the most important.
Exchanging insurance and contact information is necessary to increase the possibility of a lawsuit and compensation.
Remember to write down the following information after you have been in an accident:
- The names, address, and contact information of any other drivers involved
- Driver license numbers of drivers involved
- Insurance information: both the insurance provider and policy number of anyone who has suffered injuries or was driving at the time of the accident
- Initial injuries suffered by you or anyone else involved
- Initial damage to your car or other cars involved (take photos or draw a diagram if possible)
- Road/weather conditions
If you have a recording device on your phone, you may want to record any witness testimony or advice by law enforcement. Be sure to record any calls you make to your insurance provider or attorney as well. In the blur of emotions after a car accident, you might forget details or information exchanged over the phone.
Check with your insurance provider to see if they provide checklists to keep in your car or mobile apps that will guide you through the information you need after an accident. Mobile apps like AxiKit Accident Report will also give you a checklist of information to gather in order to complete a detailed accident report.
The moments after a car accident can be extremely stressful, but it is important to gather all of this information so future legal and personal injury proceedings can go as smoothly as possible. If another driver is not cooperating, get law enforcement officers on the scene.
3. Do Not Admit Fault
It is a normal habit to say, “I’m sorry,” but it is dangerous to apologize after a car accident. New York is a “no-fault” state (meaning that your auto insurance will cover personal injuries no matter who caused the accident) but additional damages or serious injuries as a result of the car accident may land you in court.
At that point, your degree of fault or driving abilities may be questioned. Even if you simply admit fault to ease any tension between you and other drivers, it is possible for the statement to be used against you in court later on.
4. Contact Your Insurance Provider
Even if you are not at fault, you should still contact your insurance provider immediately and report the accident.
A personal injury attorney will be able to represent you and give you the best advice on the claims to file and the statements to make after a car accident. This is especially important if you worry that you may have been at fault for the accident. You want to avoid saying anything incriminating because fault is not always obvious and you may not know the whole story.
6. Act Fast
If you are the victim of a crime or accident, you have a certain amount of time in which you are allowed to sue for damages. This is called the statute of limitations. If you want to sue for damages in New York after an auto accident, you have three years to file the paperwork begin legal proceedings. After three years, you no longer have the right to sue.
About the Author:
Donna Fafinski has been an attorney since 1990, and has devoted her professional career to helping clients navigate through the complex world of medical malpractice and general liability cases. Ms. Fafinski is a compassionate attorney who works tirelessly to help clients during those times when they need help most.