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The immediate aftermath of a car accident can be a whirlwind of
stress and anxiety, and it can be understandably difficult for you to quickly
get your emotions and senses under control.
However, there are certain steps you must take after a crash to protect yourself in the event you will become involved in a personal injury claim, whether it’s as a plaintiff or defendant.
The following are a few steps you should take after a car accident in New York City:
- •Pull over: As soon as it is safe and you can do so, pull over your vehicle to the side of the road (or a safe location). You are required by state and federal law to stop any time you have been involved in an accident. Failure to do so could lead to you being charged with fleeing the scene of an accident, which could be classified as a felony offense if someone has been injured or killed. Stay at the scene until police arrive, or until you have verified nobody is injured and there is no need to call police. If anyone has been injured, call for medical help.
- •Call the police: Although there are some situations in which you and the other driver might determine it’s not necessary to call the police, you will absolutely want to do so if there is significant vehicle damage or if anyone has been injured. Having an officer on hand to take notes and write down objective information can help you later if you need to seek compensation from an insurance company or the other driver.
- •Write down information: Collect name, contact and insurance information from the other people involved in the accident, along with the names and contact information of any witnesses who may have seen what happened. You should also write down a full account of everything you can remember so you can better recall it later when speaking to insurance adjusters or your personal injury lawyer.
- •Do not make agreements: In general, you should be very careful about what you say at an accident scene. Some statements you make could do more harm than good. You should never, for example, take responsibility for the accident, even if you believe it was your fault. Even a simple apology could be taken as an admission of fault. Do not make any agreements about who will pay for the damage—let the insurance companies work that out.
- •Take photos: Record photos and/or video at multiple angles and distances of the damage to both vehicles, of any injuries suffered (if visible) and of the area in which the accident occurred. Pay special attention to skid marks, signage, traffic control devices and number of other vehicles in the area.
If you need further legal guidance after a serious car accident in New York, meet with a knowledgeable personal injury attorney at Robinson & Yablon, P.C.