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What Steps Should You Take After a Car Accident?

Being in a car accident can be an overwhelming and stressful experience — after the shock of the initial impact, you might not know what to do next. Although seeking medical attention may seem obvious if you’re injured, there are a few other things you should do in the aftermath of a car accident. You should also be aware of how the steps you take following the crash can have an impact on any personal injury claim you might file. 

Call the Police

One of the first things you should do after a car accident is contact the police. When the police arrive at the scene, they will investigate the accident and collect statements from both drivers concerning how the accident happened. They’ll also ask if there were any injuries. The information obtained will be used to generate a police accident report.

The police accident report not only provides the insurance company with the necessary information to process your claim, but it can serve as a vital piece of evidence in a personal injury lawsuit. Although police records are considered hearsay, certified police reports can still be admissible in litigation under the business records exception in New York.

It’s important to be honest when you’re describing the accident and your injuries to the police. However, be careful what you say — your statement to the police will become part of the accident report. It may also be used as leverage in any settlement negotiations for injuries you may have sustained if you admit fault. If there’s any part of the police accident report that is inaccurate, you may be able to make a request to amend the report.  

Get Medical Attention

If you were in an accident, you should seek medical attention immediately. In some cases, you might not feel pain or know you’ve sustained car accident injuries until days or weeks later. Depending on the severity of the accident, you may have suffered:

  • Soft tissue injuries
  • Broken bones
  • Lacerations
  • Bruises
  • Fractures
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Concussion
  • Internal bleeding
  • Back injuries
  • Contusions
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder

Going to the emergency room right after the accident can help rule out any serious injuries. By getting a full exam, you can also receive treatment earlier for injuries that you might not otherwise have realized you had until they got worse. 

While it’s essential to get the treatment you need and follow your doctor’s advice to recover from your injuries, your medical records also serve as crucial evidence in any lawsuit you commence. No matter how severe your injuries are, you won’t have a viable case unless you have adequate medical documentation to support your claim. Insurance companies often try to use the lack of sufficient medical evidence as a reason to deny a payout or have your case dismissed. 

Submit an Application for No-Fault Benefits

You should report any accident to your insurance company as soon as possible. Importantly, you only have a thirty-day window of time to submit a No-Fault application to receive the medical benefits and reimbursement for lost wages that you’re entitled under your policy. 

No-Fault insurance will generally provide 80% of lost earnings, up to $2,000 a month and up to $50,000 in medical care. You may also be able to be compensated through No-Fault for out-of-pocket expenses related to necessary medical care, such as for travel to and from your doctor or physical therapy, and other necessary and reasonable expenses related to the accident. However, No-Fault insurance may not cover the full extent of the costs you’ve incurred — it also doesn’t compensate you for the pain and suffering you might have experienced as a result of another’s negligence. If you sustained a serious injury, you may be entitled to recover your damages in a personal injury action commenced against the responsible party.

Contact an Experienced New York City Car Accident Attorney

If you were injured in a car accident due to the negligence of another, you should contact a personal injury attorney immediately. An attorney can advise you of your legal rights and help protect them — once you’ve retained an attorney, insurance companies may not speak with you directly. It’s also important to be aware that there are statutes of limitations associated with every car accident case — although you have three years to commence a personal injury action, there may be other applicable time frames for your specific case that you need to be aware of to avoid having your claim forever barred. 

Navigating a personal injury claim is complex. A skilled attorney will know how to secure necessary evidence, negotiate with the insurance company, and ensure your injury is properly valued to recover the maximum compensation you deserve. The Dearie Law Firm, P.C. has convenient office locations in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and the Bronx, as well as mobile locations serving Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan, the Bronx, Staten Island, Westchester, Rockland County, and on Long Island in Nassau County, and Suffolk County. Contact us at 1-800-2-DEARIE for a consultation. 

John P. Dearie

John P. Dearie is a graduate of Regis High School, The University of Notre Dame, and St. John’s University School of Law. After working at a corporate law firm in New York City for two years following law school graduation, he joined The Dearie Law Firm in 2011.

John represents injured New Yorkers in third-party negligence litigations, as well as first responders, workers, volunteers and residents in claims to the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund.