Getting into a car accident can be a frightening situation, especially when people were seriously injured; however, it is important for drivers and passengers to stay as calm as possible afterwards. Being focused reduces the chances of saying or doing anything that could make recovering adequate insurance compensation or personal injury damages less difficult later.
Who is at Fault?
New York follows the no-fault rule when it comes to car accidents. This means that drivers are not held at fault, per se. Every driver insured in New York is expected to carry personal injury protection, or PIP, as part of an auto insurance policy. PIP covers medical expenses, missed wages, property damage, and other losses after an accident for the insured driver only. In other words, each driver’s own policy covers that driver’s losses.
Although no-fault laws do not ascribe fault to any driver, they also do not prevent injured drivers from pursuing personal injury lawsuits later. Plus, no-fault laws do not mean that a driver’s insurance carrier will automatically cover all reported losses. Insurance companies want to make and keep money, which means an insurance representative may question whether some losses were actually sustained during the crash as opposed to being sustained at a different time.
What Actions Should a Driver Take After a Car Accident?
Due to the specificity of New York’s no-fault system, drivers and passengers should be very conscientious after accidents. Making the right choices immediately will help later with getting an acceptable settlement from the insurance company or making a solid personal injury case.
First, every driver should accept all medical treatment. If none is offered on the scene, the driver and passengers should go to the nearest urgent care or emergency room facility for evaluation. If that is not feasible, each person should make an appointment with a family doctor as soon as possible. Many times, car accident injuries do not present themselves immediately or may not seem as bad as they are. Having a medical professional’s advice is necessary for treatment.
Secondly, drivers should make sure that they document the scene of the collision. Pictures and even videos can help show how the accident happened and what the site looked like immediately afterwards. As part of the documentation, drivers may want to collect witnesses’ names and phone numbers. Witnesses can be invaluable, especially if insurance companies balk at covering certain losses or medical bills.
Finally, drivers should refrain from making any statements that might indicate they are at fault. Even though New York is a no-fault state, drivers should not assume that they are guilty. Police will render their own interpretation of guilt on their police reports and may use a driver’s confession against the driver. Later, if the driver feels differently or considers a personal injury lawsuit, the driver may find it difficult to prove that the accident was someone else’s fault.
When Should a Driver Consider Contacting a Car Accident Lawyer?
After any car accident that involves moderate or severe injuries, a driver may want to contact a local, reputable car accident lawyer. A car accident attorney is familiar with problems that can arise, like trying to get a decent settlement from an insurance provider. An attorney can also offer advice on whether or not it makes sense to pursue a personal injury lawsuit, which involves suing the other driver.
During the initial consultation with the lawyer, the lawyer will want to see items related to the crash, such as receipts for medical care or a police report. Using these items, the attorney can make an expert recommendation on whether or not the driver would be advised to work with a legal team.
Brooklyn Car Accident Lawyers at Eaton & Torrenzano Represent Crash Victims Who Deserve Fair Compensation for Their Injuries
Understanding what to do after a car accident is important if a victim decides to pursue a legal case. If a car accident left you with serious injuries, contact one of our Brooklyn car accident lawyers at Eaton & Torrenzano. Contact us online or call us at 718-332-7766 for a free consultation. Located in Brooklyn and Staten Island, New York, and Hillsborough New Jersey, we serve clients throughout Kings County and Richmond County, including Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island, the Bronx, and Manhattan.