What You Should Do If You Are In a NY Car Accident
by Peter DeFilippis, Esq.
We all know accidents can happen – but what happens next depends on what you do to protect yourself.
Follow these five rules, keep a copy of this article in your vehicle and call us at (212) 227-4001 or (914) 478-7777.
We are available 24/7 and can help you through this stressful ordeal. Our accident attorneys at Peter DeFilippis & Associates can offer you additional guidance and assistance and walk you through the necessary steps following an auto, truck, motorcycle, bus, bike or pedestrian accident.
Remember, speak to us before you discuss the accident with any insurance company representative. It can make all the difference in your case. The insurance companies do not always have your best interest in mind regardless of what is said in their commercials and advertisements.
Number 1: Call the Police
THE POLICE will write a legal record of the incident showing who was involved and what happened. Make sure you obtain the officer’s name, their precinct, address, and telephone number. They should give you a slip of paper used to retrieve the report from the precinct when it is completed. In some cases you may only have 30 days to retrieve the final police report from the precinct before it is sent to the DMV in Albany, so keep the time limitation in mind. Be sure the police listen to your statement at the scene of the incident as to how the incident happened and any injuries sustained, if you are able to communicate.
DO NOT accept blame or argue with anyone at the scene of the accident. Many factors and variables are analyzed before fault, if any, can be assessed. Don’t jump to conclusions at the scene and instead focus on attending to your health and gathering information, if possible.
Don’t let the other driver convince you to forego calling the police and “just go through the insurance” or that they will “take care of it.” People often change their story when they leave the accident scene, especially when the police are not involved.
IF POLICE DO NOT RESPOND, obtain the names, addresses, and telephone numbers of all those involved and any witnesses. Report the accident to the nearest police precinct. A report of an auto accident must be made within 24 hours of the incident.
IF A MOTOR VEHICLE IS INVOLVED, record the license plate number, insurance company name and address, policy number, and both the driver’s and owner’s names, addresses, and telephone numbers.
Number 2: Get All Witness Names, Addresses, and Telephone Numbers.
If they refuse to identify themselves, jot down the license numbers of their automobiles or take photos of their vehicles and plates.
Number 3: Take Photographs
TAKE PHOTOGRAPHS of damage to all motor vehicles, license plates, drivers, witnesses, traffic control devices, the position of vehicles on the roadway, any skid marks of any vehicles, and the roadway in general. If it is an accident involving a pedestrian, photograph the crosswalk and walk signal.
TAKE PHOTOGRAPHS of injuries.
TAKE PHOTOGRAPHS of anything else struck in the collision, such as a guardrail, tree, or curb.
Number 4: Seek Immediate Medical Attention
Allow EMS to perform an examination and go to the nearest emergency room for any necessary treatment or testing.
Follow up with your doctor.
AVOID strangers who may show up at the scene or the hospital claiming to be “investigators” or claiming to work for some unidentified law firm. These are the true “ambulance chasers” and apart from engaging in illegal activity they will ultimately hurt your case. Their promises are false and they do not have your best interest in mind.
Number 5: Call Us for Immediate, Expert Advice and Attention
ALWAYS speak to your legal counsel before speaking to an insurance company.
IF SOMEBODY FROM THE INSURANCE COMPANY CALLS TO SPEAK WITH YOU, tell them you are represented by attorneys and advise them to direct ALL questions to your lawyers.
DO NOT sign any forms or releases, or make any statements over the telephone, in person, or in writing without first obtaining the advice of an attorney. Most insurance companies tape record their phone conversations, so guide yourself accordingly.