What to do after a car accident:
It happened; your cars been hit. Maybe someone hit you, maybe you lost control and hit something or someone else. No matter what happened, there are some simple rules of thumb which can be followed by every person in this unfortunate situation. Today we are going to talk about a few of the basic steps that every person needs to know about getting into a vehicular accident. By being prepared we can stay calm and resolve the situation in as positive a manner as possible. Here are 7 things to know after an automobile accident.
The first step is the most obvious one, make sure everyone is unharmed from the accident. This doesn’t just apply to passengers but to yourself as well. Check yourself for injuries and ask your adult passengers to do the same. Parents or caregivers should thoroughly check children and infants for any injuries that may have occurred. After checking everyone’s condition it is important to move yourself, your vehicle, and your passengers to a safe place outside of traffic if you can. The use of hazard lights and road flares may be appropriate as well. It may be appropriate to check the other vehicle’s drivers and passengers for harm as well.
Don’t Take the Blame
Since it is generally impossible to say why the accident occurred until a fulsome investigation takes place, never apologize, take the blame, say it was your fault or sign a document accepting blame until all of the facts have come out and you had a chance to consult with your attorney. Sometimes fault may lie with the manufacturer of a vehicle or on road conditions beyond your control. Just because it seems like you might be at fault does not make it so. At this stage it is also important to exchange appropriate information with the other party, if there is one, and take pictures of the scene and the vehicles.
Get Checked Out
You might feel fine after the accident, but that does not mean that you are not injured. It is completely possible to have injuries after a vehicle accident which do not begin to show symptoms right away, particularly given the adrenaline from the accident occurring which masks injuries that will come to light in time. This is an important step not only to ensure that you are safe and healthy but also an important step in case legal action becomes necessary. If you don’t get checked out by a doctor immediately after the accident there might not be a way to determine if the injury you sustained is related to the vehicle accident or some other life event. This situation can make it difficult to make a recovery in court and cause you to take on the financial burden of the vehicular accident when it is actually unnecessary to do so.
This is a tricky one. Courts disapprove when people alter or destroy evidence that they believe will likely reasonably be needed to conduct an investigation or engage in litigation. Some of the things that are included in potential spoilation are social media posts, black box data, witnesses and other relevant evidence. The consequences for spoilation can be severe, so it is important to talk to an attorney before engaging in any action which could constitute this type of behavior.
Don’t Settle On the Spot
Sometimes it’s tempting to just get things over with quickly, agree to a settlement with the other driver right away, and not bother with the whole legal process. This could not be a larger mistake. It is impossible to determine the extent of the damages, what types of obligations exist in relation to third parties, or the liability which each party has, without a thorough investigation and consultation with experts. Taking this path can mean paying money you didn’t have to or losing a recovery which you otherwise could have been entitled to receive.
Advise Your Insurance Carrier of the Accident
New York requires that all insurance policies covering vehicles in the state provide passengers with No Fault insurance coverage, which is designed to pay for your related medical bills, a portion of any lost wages, as well as payment for incidental expenses related to the medical treatment required by the accident. However, in order to ensure that you obtain these benefits, the law requires that you place your insurance company on notice of the accident, and that you submit certain paperwork within a short time of the accident to activate your benefits. Failure to submit the required paperwork within the time limits of the law may result in all benefits being denied, and therefore it is important to put your insurance company on notice immediately after the accident occurs.
Consult with an Attorney as Soon as Possible After the Accident
Generally, consulting with an attorney after a motor vehicle accident to determine if you have a case does not cost you anything. At the Lotempio Law Group, we provide free consultations to help those who have been in an accident. Quite often there is no case to be brought, either because the person does not have a qualifying injury under New York State law, or for some other reason regarding the liability of others. However, even if there is no Personal Injury case, it is helpful to have a discussion with one of our attorneys who can advise you as to your rights and assist you in filling out the No Fault paperwork required to be submitted to the insurance company. Additionally, seeing an attorney soon after the accident can help make sure that all parties are put on notice of the accident. For example, you must put your own insurance company on written notice of an Uninsured or Underinsured Motorist claim soon after the accident to preserve that coverage, if it turns out that the other driver has no insurance, or insufficient coverage to pay for all of your damages.
As you can tell this is a complicated area which takes nuanced, strategic maneuvering to be able to effectively navigate. Don’t try to deal with this issue on your own, call us at Lotempio P.C. Law Group to get the advice that you deserve.
If you have further questions, we are here to assist you.
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