Every year, vehicle accidents on roadways in the US cause injuries to more than 4 million people. Although you may be a very careful driver, there is always a chance of being injured in an accident caused due to the negligence of another person.
If you have been hurt in a car accident in New York for no fault of your own, the law allows you to file a personal injury claim to get compensation for the losses you suffered. Here are a few things you need to keep in mind on how to build a strong auto accident injury case in New York City.
If your car accident has caused you grave injuries, you won’t be in a position to do anything on your own. But if you are unhurt, take time to check the status of passengers in your or the other vehicle. As soon as you’re done with this initial assessment of damage, call 911 to report the crash.
Tell the 911 dispatcher the site of the accident, with information of the landmarks near the location. Also give them details of the degree of damage and any dangerous development such as the leaking of fuel, so that they can make arrangements to deal with the situations.
Sometimes, the other driver may dissuade you from calling 911, saying they do not want the police involved. They may try to strike a deal with you directly because they want to leave their insurance company out of the situation. Giving in to their demand or request can come back to haunt you later and so, it is best you report the crash and stay at the location until the ambulance and police officials arrive.
Accident victims who suffer a cut or fracture or other obvious injury always seek medical treatment immediately after they are hurt. However, when it comes to injuries that don’t manifest at once, if the victim feels physically good, they think it is unnecessary to see a doctor.
You must remember that many potentially life-threatening conditions such as internal bleeding or trauma to the brain may not be externally visible at once. Also, the rush of adrenaline from the shock of being in an accident may mask signs of an injury.
Stemming from this, make sure that even if you feel good, you get medical attention at the earliest. Let the emergency responders know about any tiny abnormal sensation or feeling you have, and let them be the judge of its relevance to determine your physical condition.
If you refuse medical treatment at the accident scene, and later raise a claim for damages, the insurance company will grab the opportunity to discredit or downplay your claim or reduce the amount you receive in compensation. They will claim that your injuries were due to some other cause, and not due to the accident, because you refused treatment after the event.
As per NY law, drivers involved in an accident must exchange identification details and insurance information after the collision. Get the other driver’s full name, correct address, email address and contact phone numbers.
Note details of the persons who were in both vehicles at the time of the accident, any injuries sustained by them and your impression of their behavior. Make a specific note of things that may be relevant to the cause of the crash such as someone not wearing the seatbelt, or the presence of beer cans in the car.
Use your cell phone to capture the accident scene through photographs and videos. Get shots of the damage caused to both vehicles, the condition of the insides of both vehicles and also other conditions in the area where the crash took place. If possible, record videos of what the other party is saying because this is compelling evidence that can’t be changed later, unlike a verbal statement.
Talk to people who have collected at the accident site and find out if any of them can be a potential witness to support your claim. If there is someone you can identify as such, get their name, address, and contact number so that you can get in touch with them later if necessary.
Just as you want to capture whatever the other driver says in the hope that it can strengthen your claim, they will be waiting for such an opportunity too. It is natural to want to comfort someone who has been injured and is in distress, but you must be very careful that you don’t let an apology slip out or try to justify your actions by saying things like, “I just didn’t notice what was happening.”
Remember that any and all statements you make, and anything you speak at the accident scene can be used against you by the other party at a later date. Even in situations where you think it may be your fault that led to the New York car accident, it is vital that you don’t speak up and express your fears.
Accidents are so sudden that no one can really know what truly happened at that moment of collision, and you don’t want your impression, which could be erroneous, to land you in trouble.
Regardless of who was at fault for the accident, you or the other driver, make sure you notify your insurance company at the earliest. This is important because your auto policy is almost sure to have a clause that you must inform the company when your vehicle is involved in an accident. In the event that the other car driver tries to sue you for the accident, it is your insurance company that takes the responsibility of defending you in the case.
When people delay informing their insurance company after a car accident in New York, there is a chance that some unscrupulous individual will step in, claiming to be a passenger who was injured in the event, and seek damages. When you are prompt in notifying your insurance provider with specific details of the crash, there is no room for any such fraudulent claims.
Any and every document related to the accident is going to be potentially valuable when you set out to claim damages. With that said, make sure you have all these papers organized and stored safely. Soon after the accident, write down your account of the crash, describing all the details as accurately as you can recollect.
It is critical to do this at the earliest when things are still fresh in your memory. Later, you may find it difficult to remember small details and if you make errors, the other party or the insurance company can easily use that to suggest that your account is not accurate.
Keep records of your medical appointments, and file bills you receive from the doctor, the pharmacist and therapist who have been a part of your care. Get a copy of your medical records from the treating hospital. Also obtain a copy of the report filed by the police who inspected your accident site. All this paperwork is going to play a vital role in building you a strong case after your New York City auto accident.
New York State gives claimants a period of three years to go to court to claim damages. This deadline, called the statute of limitations, begins from the date when the accident occurred. Any action you take to negotiate a settlement with the insurance company or to take them to a court trial will have to be started before this deadline runs out.
Three years sounds like a lot of time, but the legal process can be complex and takes a lot of time. Evidence can get tampered with, and memories can fade over time. So it is best to move quickly to secure your interests by filing a personal injury claim in New York as soon as you can.
Insurance adjusters may sound friendly and approachable, but you must be cautious around them. Their only interest in your case is to minimize the amount they pay you, and many insurers are known to go to any lengths to ensure this. When you do not have legal representation, there is every chance that insurance companies will offer you a ridiculously low amount in settlement, depriving you of maximum compensation that is your rightful due.
Our personal injury lawyers at Rosenberg, Minc, Falkoff & Wolff, LLP have helped thousands of clients win the maximum value for their personal injury claims. We can help you do the same, and we welcome you to schedule a consultation with our skilled NYC car accident attorneys at the earliest. Call us at 212-344-1000 or contact us online.
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