What Do I Do If I’ve Been In A Car Accident?
Anyone who has been involved in a car accident knows that the moments after the impact are disorienting. The shock of the impact sends adrenaline rushing through the body, which can result in time distortion, changes to depth perception, a lack of pain, and trembling. While dealing with this fight or flight response, it can be hard to think clearly. However, it is important that you take steps to protect yourself and any passengers in the car.
First, determine if anyone in the car needs immediate medical attention and seek care. Call the police, and if you are able, get to a safe place off of the road and out of oncoming traffic. Your health and safety are always the top priority. If possible, take pictures of the scene.
Most people do speak with the other driver but you should be cautious in anything that you say. Do not discuss the details of the accident, simply request their insurance information.
How Do I Know Who Is Liable For The Accident?
In the majority of car accidents, the police will be able to determine what the cause of the accident was and will indicate in their report who was at fault. However, it is always wise to consult with an attorney who can fully review your accident and determine if multiple factors were involved.
Is It Okay For Me To Talk To The Police When They Arrive?
Yes. The police need to write a report detailing the incident. They will ask you to describe what happened and will determine who was at fault. Be sure to obtain a copy of the police report.
Why Do I Need A Police Report?
The police report gives insurance companies and attorneys the “Who, What, Where, When, And Why?” of the accident. In some cases, car accident victims are unable to clearly remember the accident and stories may change over time. A police report gives the facts.
Should I Notify My Insurance Company About The Accident?
Yes. You should always call your insurance company after an accident. Give them the other driver’s insurance information and the police report, but refrain from making a recorded statement with an adjuster until you have consulted with a car accident attorney.
Should I Notify The Other Driver’s Insurance Company?
No. There is no reason for you to speak with the other driver’s insurance company. You should allow your insurance company, or an attorney, to contact the other driver’s insurance company. Anything you say will be recorded and can be used against you.
What Should I Do If The Other Driver’s Insurance Contacts Me?
If the adjuster from the other driver’s insurance contacts you, you should inform them that you are not willing to make a recorded statement until you have spoken with your attorney. While you are required to work with your insurance company, you are not required to speak to the other driver’s adjuster.
Should I Sign A Medical Release Form For The Insurance Company?
No. If you sign a medical release form the insurance company will have access to ALL of your medical records – not just those pertaining to the accident. Do not sign anything until your personal injury lawyer has reviewed the paperwork.
I Feel Okay – Do I Really Need To Go To The Doctor?
Absolutely. Many people wait too long to seek medical care after a car accident because they believe that the pain they are experiencing is normal muscle pain or “whiplash”. But often this pain is just a symptom of something much more serious.
Don’t hesitate – go immediately.
Are My Injuries Serious Enough For A Lawsuit?
The state of New York is considered a no-fault state. This means that when a car accident occurs, everyone involved turns to their own insurance company for reimbursement. However, in some cases, the law allows victims to pursue legal action if:
- a bone is fractured
- the victim suffers from an injury that leaves them significantly disfigured
- an organ or limb is permanently damaged
- if the injuries are so severe that the victim is on full disability for 90 days
Who Will Pay My Medical Bills?
In a perfect world, the insurance company of the driver at fault will pay for your medical bills. But as many know, we do not live in a perfect world. It can be very difficult to get the insurance company to pay, which is why it is a wise decision to contact a car accident attorney as soon as possible.
What Happens When My Policy Limits Run Out?
In many cases, the medical expenses amount to much more than what is available from an insurance policy. Once the policy limits have been reached, the insurance company will refuse to pay your medical bills.
This is when you might want to consider filing a claim against the other driver’s insurance company.
What If The Other Driver Doesn’t Have Insurance?
An amazing 12.6% of American drivers are estimated to be uninsured.
New York car insurance requirements state that all drivers must have uninsured motorist coverage on their policy. This may help to cover some of your expenses. If this coverage isn’t enough, the only other choice is to pursue legal action against the at fault driver.
Can I Still File If I Wasn’t Wearing A Seatbelt?
Yes. While wearing a seat belt is required by law, the fact that you were not wearing one does not make the other driver any less liable for the accident.
If The Police Said I Was Also At Fault Do I Still Have A Case?
New York allows those who have been injured to seek compensation for their injuries even if they were partially at fault for the accident. However, if they are awarded damages, the amount they receive will be reduced by a percentage that represents how much of the accident was their fault.
The Insurance Company Is Questioning My Injuries – What Do I Do?
Insurance companies often do their best to either reduce the amount they have to pay out or deny claims entirely. If the insurance company is questioning the severity of your injuries, you should contact a car accident attorney as soon as possible.
Can I Be Reimbursed If I Had To Take Time Off Of Work?
Yes, you can. You should never have to use your hard earned sick leave, vacation time, or other benefits for time off of work when you’ve suffered due to another person’s negligence. You may be entitled to compensation for not only the time you’ve already had to take, but also future lost wages and any loss of wage-earning capacity should your injuries be so severe that you are unable to return to work.
Will I Have To Go To Court?
If the insurance company offers to pay you what you and your attorney believe is a fair amount, and you decide to settle, then your case will not go to court. However, if the insurance company does not offer you a fair settlement, then your case may have to to go to trial.
How Much Is My Case Worth?
Every accident is different, and so there is no real way that we can determine exactly how much your case is worth until we review the facts.
What Type of Compensation Can I Receive?
Accident victims have the right to seek compensation for:
- medical expenses
- lost earnings
- pain and suffering
- funeral and burial expenses
What If The Insurance Company Offers Me A Settlement?
Do not agree to any settlements, or sign any papers, without first going over the offer with your attorney. Insurance companies will frequently attempt to offer the victim less than they deserve to try and save money.
Can I File A Complaint Against The Car Manufacturer?
Yes. If there was a defect in the car which resulted in an accident and injuries, it is possible to pursue legal action against the manufacturer or the parts or the car manufacturing company.
What Do I Need To Provide?
Once you agree to work with our firm, we will need copies of all documents that pertain to the accident. This may include the police report, medical records, bills, pay stubs representing the amount of money you would have made if you were able to return to work, and photographs of the scene and your injuries.
What Is The No-Fault System In New York?
In New York, when drivers are involved in a car accident, each person turns to their own insurance company for compensation for their injuries and losses, regardless of who was at fault. The state does allow victims to pursue legal action if they suffered from a fractured bone, a disfiguring injury, an injury that resulted in the loss of use of a limb or organ, or if the victim’s insurance policy limits are reached.
How Long Do I Have To File A Claim?
The statute of limitations in New York is three years. If a lawsuit is not filed during this time period, the victim may lose all rights to recover compensation.
What Areas Does the Firm Serve?
Our firm’s main offices are located in Manhattan and Westchester, NY but we accept cases throughout all of New York state and some select nationwide cases. We regularly represent clients in the following boroughs:
How Much Will It Cost For You To Review My Case?
Our firm offers free consultations to all car accident victims.
How Much Will It Cost To Hire You?
Our car accident lawyers work on a contingency fee basis. This means you have absolutely nothing to lose – if we don’t obtain compensation for you, you owe us nothing. When we do get you the compensation you need and deserve, our fee comes directly out of that monetary award, not out of your pocket.