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What to Do After a Car Accident in New York

Law Office of Jonathan B. Ripps Feb. 24, 2022

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), more than six million car accidents happen annually in the United States. Whether you have been involved in a minor fender bender or a serious crash involving multiple vehicles, you might be too shocked, energized with adrenaline, and angry at the at-fault driver(s) to think clearly. 

There are certain steps you must take immediately after the accident to not only protect your health and ensure everyone is safe, but to also protect your right to file an accident claim or file a personal injury lawsuit. No matter who is at fault, these steps will help you make the claims or legal process easier. 

If you have been involved in a car accident, you must take the following eight steps after the crash: 

  1. Check for injuries – Your first priority is to make sure you and everyone involved in the collision is safe. If someone needs immediate medical assistance, then call 911 to request an ambulance on the scene. 

  1. Get to safety – If you can, move to the side of the road or sidewalk. If your car is safe to drive and is causing a hazard on the road, move your vehicle to a safe location, but do not leave the scene. 

  1. Call the police – If anyone involved in the accident suffered an injury or died, New York law requires you to notify law enforcement officials and file an accident report with the DMV. If anyone incurred more than $1,000 in property damage as a result of the collision, you must only file a report with the DMV within 10 days after the accident. Failure to file a report can lead to driver’s license suspension. 

  1. Collect information from all parties involved – You must obtain the other driver’s vehicle information (e.g., make, model, year, color, license plate number, and vehicle identification number) and insurance information (e.g., policy number and insurer’s phone number). If the police arrive, write down the officer’s name, badge number, and contact information. If there are any witnesses, ask if they are willing to provide you with their contact information, as well as their observations of the crash. 

  1. Document the scene – Use your smartphone’s camera to take photos or videos of the accident. Ensure you capture the exterior and interior damage of all vehicles involved, as well as the entire scene of the accident, including road and weather conditions, streets signs and traffic lights, and the surrounding area. You can also use your voice memo features to describe in full detail what happened. 

  1. Do not admit fault – Since you may not know the full story immediately after the collision, it is wise to avoid apologizing at all costs. Saying “I’m sorry” could be misconstrued as an admission of fault, which can be held against you in the claims process or in civil court. 

  1. Call your insurance company – You can start the claims process by contacting your insurer. Only provide the insurance agent with basic information about the accident and do not go into too much detail. 

  1. Contact an attorney – Unlike your insurance carrier, your lawyer is required to protect your rights and best interests. He/she can thoroughly examine your case, determine your available legal options, and help you maximize your entitled award or settlement. 

If you have been injured in an auto accident in Rockland County, NY, call the Law Office of Jonathan B. Ripps or fill out our online contact form today to schedule a free consultation. We have more than two decades of experience in personal injury law!