New York State Accident GuideJanuary 2019 | Eric Sandman, Esq.
Immediately following a car accident, check yourself for injuries and the well-being of any passengers in your vehicle. Then, set your hazard lights on and get to safety. Depending on where the accident occurred, this could sometimes mean remaining in your vehicle. If your vehicle is safe to drive AND is causing a road hazard, it’s best to move it to the side of the road.
Next, contact the police and remain on-scene. Insist on calling the police if there is another driver asking to only exchange information. A police report documenting how the accident happened will be needed if liability is later disputed among the insurance companies.
You should now exchange information with all drivers, including names, addresses, phone numbers and insurance information. Check the surrounding area for any possible witnesses and exchange contact information with them if possible. It’s always a good idea to take photographs of the surrounding area and vehicles involved in the accident, as these will prove useful during the insurance claim process.
Once the police arrive, make sure to get the name and badge numbers of all responding officers. While the police report will often not be ready for a few days, a basic “exchange of information sheet” with police report information should be available on-scene.
If your vehicle has to be towed, make sure to get the tow truck and repair shop information. The tow truck driver will often decide where your vehicle will be towed; however, you should discuss other options with the driver if possible.
If you were injured in the accident, you should contact an attorney to assist in notifying the insurance companies and beginning the claims process. Contacting an attorney at an early stage will ensure your rights are protected as there are strict deadlines surrounding car insurance claims.
For example, in New York State, the portion of insurance responsible for paying medical bills is called No-Fault or Personal Injury Protection. A No-Fault application is required to be filed in 30 days of the accident date; missing this deadline can seriously compromise your benefits. There are also many No-Fault benefits you’ll want to consider, including payment for medical bills, reimbursement for lost time from work, mileage driven to doctor appointments as well as household assistance.
If you have any questions about the matters discussed in this article, please contact your Legal Service Plan’s National Legal Office at 800-292-8063 or 631-231-1450.