What to Do After a Car Accident in New York
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What to Do After a Car Accident in New York
If you’ve ever been involved in a serious car accident, you know as well as anyone how terrifying it can be. One moment, you’re traveling along, watching the scenery change before your eyes. The next moment, the world suddenly slams to a halt.
The moments immediately following an accident are usually disorienting, confusing, and frightening. When the car eventually stops, your brain tries to determine what happened and often has difficulty putting the pieces together. You’re also likely facing the wrong direction, and you may have trouble figuring out where you are.
For many people, time seems to slow down, and they become very hyper-focused on their immediate surroundings. Usually, their brains feel a little foggy, and they have trouble figuring out what to do next. This is a completely normal response to a traumatic event.
And yet, it is in this state of mind that you are expected to act responsibly. Most state laws (and New York is no exception) require you to contact authorities, share information with others in the accident, and maybe even contact your insurance company to start a claim.
But given the disorienting state that accidents cause, it’s no surprise that thousands of people make mistakes immediately after an accident.
If you want to avoid being one of those people, the best course of action is to contact a car accident lawyer from Morgan & Morgan as soon as possible. Put our number into your phone, or bookmark our website address. And if you find yourself in a car accident in New York, contact us immediately to schedule a free case evaluation.
What You Are Expected to Do After a Car Accident in New York
According to New York law, you are expected to do several things after a car accident. The most important thing to do is remain at the scene of the accident long enough to complete all your other responsibilities. If you don’t, you are technically guilty of a hit-and-run and could face jail time if caught.
Next, you should share your contact information with all other drivers in the accident. You should show them your driver’s license, registration card, and insurance information. This is crucial so that they can use your information for any insurance claims.
Furthermore, if anyone was injured in the accident or there was over $1,000 of property damage, you are required to report it to the police. Since it is almost impossible to calculate the value of damage while at the scene of an accident, it is generally best to always report an accident, just to be on the safe side.
The consequences of not reporting an accident can be quite severe—you can have your license suspended if you fail to report an accident that you were required to report. That isn’t a risk worth taking.
What You Should Do After a Car Accident in New York
The first thing you should do after any car accident where someone is injured is call 911. Most people will do this automatically to contact the police, but some might know local non-emergency numbers or flag down a nearby police officer. This will get a police officer but might not get medical personnel.
By calling 911, you ensure that an ambulance is dispatched to your location. This is the best way to get medical attention quickly. Hopefully, this is unnecessary, but it is better to be safe than sorry.
The next thing you should do is contact a car accident lawyer at Morgan and Morgan. Just let us know that you’ve been in an accident, and we’ll help set you up with a free consultation. Even if we eventually determine that you don’t need our services, a little support immediately after the accident will help immensely.
Once you have been medically evaluated and know that it is safe to move around, collect the contact information of other drivers involved in the accident. The best way to do this is to take pictures of all important documents, including their:
- Driver’s licenses
- License plates
- Insurance cards
- Registration cards
This information will be necessary for filing an insurance claim. You might also want to gather the contact information of any witnesses and police on the scene as well.
Finally, file your claim before you leave the scene of the accident. For now, you should just file your claim with your insurance company. Most likely, you will eventually need to deal with the insurance company of the other driver as well. But for now, you just need a record that the accident exists, and additional details can be worked out later.
Why You Need a Car Accident Lawyer
Unless the other driver was completely responsible for the car accident, getting full compensation can be quite difficult. New York has a complicated fault system where each party is responsible for compensating the other party based on their relative level of fault in the accident. This means that if the insurance companies do not determine that the other party was completely at fault, you would not receive 100% of the compensation that you should.
This is one of the main reasons you need a car accident lawyer. Your attorney will independently investigate the accident and provide conclusive evidence to both insurance companies about the other party’s fault. That will ensure that you get the appropriate compensation.
Furthermore, because your attorney is familiar with car accident injuries, they know all the types of damages (the legal term for compensation) that you deserve after an accident. Often, insurance companies will try to offer you money for obvious damages hoping you’ll accept it, not realize you deserve more.
Your attorney can help you avoid this trap by collecting evidence of all lost wages, medical bills, and other expenses. They can also accurately estimate future losses and expenses. And if an insurance company makes a lowball offer, they can prevent you from taking it.
Finally, your attorney will take over communications with all insurance companies involved. This reduces the amount of red tape you have to deal with and lets you focus on recovering from your injuries.
It also gives your lawyer an opportunity to negotiate for a fair settlement. If your attorney can get one or both of the insurance companies to agree to a negotiated settlement, you will get the money you deserve quickly, with minimal effort on your part.
Things You Should Not Do After a Car Accident in New York
More than anything, the main thing you shouldn’t do after a car accident is talk to anyone about the incident other than a lawyer. Anything you say about the accident could be used by one or both of the insurance companies to assign fault to you.
However, this can be particularly tricky immediately after the accident. Almost everyone at the accident scene will want to talk about it. Other drivers will want to compare notes, witnesses will want to discuss it, and a police officer will probably ask for your side of the story. Even medical personnel may ask questions about the accident to help evaluate your condition.
You can safely answer the questions of any medical personnel, but you should avoid speaking with anyone else about this topic. You should even tell the police officer that you will make yourself available at a later time when you have a lawyer present.
Similarly, don’t share any information about your accident on social media. For many, this is almost as tempting as talking to others at the accident scene. And while it can be a good way to comfort friends and family to let them know you are safe, it can also harm your case.
If you truly need to share information on social media, let your lawyer help you craft anything you post. This way, they can ensure that your post can’t be used to harm you, while still providing critical information to friends and family. After that, if you have any other discussions, they should be private and with people you can trust not to share the information with other parties.
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How Long Will It Take for Me to Get Paid After a Car Accident?
Typically, if your attorney can negotiate a fair settlement, your case will take a few weeks to a few months to complete. Usually, insurance companies send a check anywhere from two weeks to a month after a settlement is agreed to.
If your case goes to trial, you will probably have to wait more than a year to get paid. And once again, there will be a slight delay between damages being awarded and the insurance company paying it out.
Will I Need a Criminal Car Accident Lawyer?
Typically, you will need a civil car accident attorney but not a criminal attorney. Unless you were doing something blatantly illegal (like driving drunk), you shouldn’t be charged after a car accident, even if it was your fault.
But if you want to receive appropriate compensation, you should retain a civil attorney that focuses on car accident cases.
The Insurance Company Made an Offer—Should I Accept It?
Unless your car accident attorney has had a chance to look at the offer, you shouldn’t accept it. Once you accept an offer from an insurance company, you usually can’t get any more money from it. Furthermore, insurance companies want to pay you as little as possible, so their first offer will often be extremely underwhelming. By hiring the services of a car accident attorney, you can negotiate for fair compensation.
Can I Appeal the Fault Decision by an Insurance Company?
Yes, you can. You can appeal any decision the insurance company makes. And if an insurance company tries to assign more fault to you than another, this should be appealed because it would lower your compensation.
However, these appeals may be rejected, especially if you attempt to make an appeal without the assistance of a reputable attorney. They can get the evidence needed to win an appeal and convince insurance companies to offer you more money.
Car Accident Lawyers in New York
If you have suffered an injury in a car accident in New York, you need help dealing with the insurance companies and getting the money you deserve. To maximize your chances of getting the compensation you need, contact Morgan & Morgan right away to schedule a free case evaluation.