What To Do After a Car Accident That’s Not Your Fault

What To Do After a Car Accident That’s Not Your Fault

Steven Schwartzapfel -Founding Partner Jul 7, 2022

For more than 35 years, Steven Schwartzapfel, the founding member of Schwartzapfel Lawyers P.C., has been one of New York’s most prominent personal injury attorneys. Steve represents clients in all types of personal injury cases. His experience, skill, and dedication have enabled Schwartzapfel Lawyers P.C. to recover hundreds of millions of dollars for their clients.

Even the most careful drivers get into car accidents, especially on the busy streets of New York City. Car accidents are unfortunately common throughout the Empire State, which means you need to know what to do after a car accident that’s not your fault.

When you aren’t at fault for a fender bender or major crash, you could have grounds to sue an at-fault or negligent driver or other party. Conversely, when operating a motor vehicle in NYC, you need to also know how to protect yourself against accusations of fault when you did nothing wrong, particularly if the other driver is belligerent.

Not sure what to do? Schwartzapfel Lawyers can help. Contact us today for a free case evaluation at 1-800-966-4999 or read the step-by-step guide below.

Get to Safety

No matter the specifics of your car accident, your first priority should be getting to safety. If you’re involved in an auto accident, you need to:

  • Get yourself out of the road, especially if your accident takes place on a freeway or any type of busy roadway.
  • Move your vehicle out of the way of traffic if it is still operable and you are able to do so safely. If possible, turn your hazard lights on to alert other motorists that your car is disabled.

In addition, you should try to get other injured parties out of danger if you are mobile and not seriously injured, and if this can be done safely. Auto accidents and crashes can quickly become hazards for other drivers on the road, and moving those hazards from harm’s way is a critical step you should never skip.

Contact Emergency Services

Next, call 911 to get emergency services to the scene of the incident as quickly as possible. If your phone is damaged or you don’t have one with you, flag someone down and get them to call the authorities right away.

Emergency services are important, as EMS and other first responders can:

  • Check out accident victims and provide immediate medical attention
  • Transport seriously injured individuals to hospitals
  • Quickly douse fires or eliminate other hazards created due to the accident
  • Collect statements from the parties involved as well as eyewitnesses
  • Control the situation

Around most major roadways, emergency services usually take only a few minutes to arrive. Still, the faster you call them, the better the outlook is for injured parties.

To learn more, call Schwartzapfel Lawyers and speak directly with one of our car collision experts. Simply dial 1-800-966-4999 and allow us the honor of answering any auto accident-related questions you may have, free of charge.

Collect Evidence of the Accident

While you wait for emergency services to arrive, you should collect evidence at the accident scene if you are uninjured and it is safe to do so. To do this, you should use your phone or a camera to take information such as:

  • The accident scene (without moving evidence like debris)
  • Yourself, if you are injured
  • aAny vehicle damage and/or other property damage
  • As well, you should make note(s) of any eyewitness accounts

Do not remove anything from the scene of the accident, including any objects. This can technically be considered evidence tampering and could harm your chances of recovering compensation in a future lawsuit.

Still, collecting evidence in the form of videos, photos, and eyewitness accounts is vital if you wish to prove fault on behalf of another party. It can also be important if you need to defend yourself against accusations of fault when you did not cause the car accident.

Gather Information from the Other Driver(s)

At the same time, you should collect auto insurance information and car details from the other driver or drivers involved in the incident. This information includes:

  • The name and contact information of the other driver(s)
  • The license plate number and other identifying information of the other driver(s) motor vehicle(s), such as make and model
  • The names and contact information of witnesses to the incident, such as pedestrians or passengers in your vehicle or another vehicle
  • The at-fault driver’s insurance company’s contact information (i.e., phone number, insurance policy number), which can be helpful during the insurance claims process and/or when filing a police report

If you speak to a police officer, be sure to record their name, badge number, and contact information. This could prove useful when proving your case in court or defending yourself from accusations of fault.

Again, you should only do this if you are uninjured and safe. If you aren’t feeling well, don’t worry about collecting information. Your lawyers can help you with this later, and the police will collect evidence as part of their standard duties.

Do Not Admit to Fault!

No matter what happens, do not admit to fault or make any statements that could be perceived as admitting to fault when speaking to a police officer, a medical professional, or anyone else. Even if you believe you might have been partially at fault for an accident, don’t say so.

This is because even the most innocent of statements can be used against you in a court of law if the other party decides to sue. When you are asked for your statement by a police officer, keep your responses short, simple, and to the point.

If you even partially admit to fault, it will become much harder for you to recover compensation from an at-fault party. It will also be harder to defend yourself if you aren’t at fault for a crash but are accused of causing it.

For more on this, or for your free consultation, please call Schwartzapfel Lawyers now at 1-800-966-4999. Or, if you would rather read up more on the subject first, please continue reading.

Get Checked by Medical Professionals

The next important step is to get examined by medical professionals either at the scene of the accident or at a hospital or clinic.

Medical professionals can examine you and determine:

  • What injuries you have sustained, if any
  • What medical care you should receive
  • Whether you should receive treatment immediately or at the hospital

Depending on the severity of your accident, you might be released at that scene or asked to accompany medical professionals to the hospital. When possible, you should comply with their recommendations, as medical professionals will likely know better whether you are injured and which treatments are best to prevent those injuries from worsening.

What If You Don’t Feel Injured?

Many common injuries in car accidents can be difficult to detect, especially at first. Common injuries from auto accidents include but are not limited to:

  • Broken bones
  • Strains, sprains, and ligament tears
  • Lacerations (i.e., deep cuts)
  • Whiplash
  • Traumatic brain injuries (TBI) like concussions
  • Spinal damage

Some of these injuries (e.g., concussions, whiplash) may not seem obvious at first. A qualified medical professional, however, will be equipped to identify those injuries and recommend appropriate treatment.

Even if you don’t feel like you are injured, you should get checked after those in critical condition are examined. This is important, both so that you receive proper care quickly and so that you do not give up your ability to sue others for injuries.

For instance, suppose you’re involved in an auto accident. Your neck snaps back painfully. However, the pain dissipates in the immediate aftermath of the accident due to adrenaline.

A week later, as your neck is still sore, you have a doctor examine you. The doctor tells you that you are suffering from whiplash and could have permanent nerve damage as a result.

Because your injury was not recorded at the accident scene, it would be harder for you to show that the whiplash was caused due to the car accident. Accordingly, recovering adequate medical compensation from your insurance company could prove difficult, as that documentation could have been used in your favor in a personal injury case.

Bottom line: Always get examined by medical professionals, and let them record any and all injuries they detect. It’s the best way to protect yourself – physically and financially.

Contact Your Attorneys

Only at this stage should you consider contacting auto accident attorneys. Because, while attorneys play an important role in affording legal protections and presenting lawsuit options, you should still call the police and be examined by medical personnel first.

Once you have been medically stabilized, however, you should immediately call an experienced car accident lawyer. If you don’t have one, contact Schwartzapfel Lawyers right away at 1-800-966-4999 for a free case evaluation and also the answers to your car accident-related questions.

As knowledgeable auto accident attorneys, we know the ins and outs of New York car accident law and can help you:

  • Protect yourself from accusations of fault when you did not cause the car accident
  • Determine whether you have grounds for a lawsuit against an at-fault or negligent party
  • Provide sound counsel from the beginning of the legal process through its end
  • Gather evidence and present it effectively in court
  • And much more

It’s also wise to contact auto accident attorneys if you plan to recover compensation from another party’s insurance company. Insurers often fight tooth and nail to avoid having to pay out legal damages, even if the victims are clearly entitled to them.

The right lawyers can negotiate with insurance companies on your behalf and prevent them from avoiding payouts. If necessary, they can also recommend legal action, like taking an insurance company to court or pursuing arbitration.

Contact Your Insurance Company

In the event of a car accident, you will naturally need to contact your personal insurance company as well. By law, you are required to report every auto accident you’re involved in within 30 days of the accident. If you fail to do this, you could face fines and your insurance company will likely raise your premiums (if it doesn’t drop you as a customer entirely).

Insurance companies need to know when you are involved in an accident, so they can:

  • Prepare for the possibility of legal action against them
  • Update their records and your premiums accordingly

If you are injured, your lawyers can also contact your insurance company on your behalf. Just be sure to let them know that you haven’t contacted your insurance company yet so that they can make this a top priority.

This is significant, as your insurance company must be contacted in order for the details of your medical payments to be ironed out. If you are injured, odds are your insurance or the other driver’s insurance will help to pay for your medical bills (or, if you’re lucky, cover them completely).

However, insurance companies aren’t always on your side. In fact, they seldom are when it comes to paying in full. That’s why it’s absolutely imperative that you contact your lawyers prior to contacting your insurance company.

Decide Whether You Wish To Sue

Although New York is a no-fault car insurance state, that doesn’t mean you can never sue if others are at fault for a crash. According to New York State law, you can sue an at-fault party in a car crash if:

  • Your injuries are sufficiently severe or debilitating. Normally, this means they are disabling in some way, or they significantly diminish your quality of life.
  • Your medical costs are extremely high.
  • The actions of the at-fault party were particularly malicious and/or negligent.

Even with these guidelines, it can be tough to know whether you have grounds for a lawsuit or if your lawsuit may be successful. Your auto crash attorney can provide you with advice one way or the other. They may tell you that you have solid grounds for a lawsuit or help you identify the party most liable for your injuries.

Remember, car insurance companies should pay for your damages until your limits are reached. As such, if your insurance coverage matches the cost of all medical bills and accident-related expenses, there may not be a need for a lawsuit.

To discuss the specifics of your case, call Schwartzapfel Lawyers today at 1-800-966-4999.

What Damages Can You Expect?

That depends on the specifics of your case and the quality of your legal team. Many auto crash lawsuits result in damage awards for:

  • Past and future medical bills
  • Loss of income, if you had to take time off work while recovering
  • Pain and suffering, if your injuries were sufficiently severe or debilitating
  • Loss of quality of life
  • Loss of ability, if your injuries were disabling in some way

Trusted car accident attorneys such as Schwartzapfel Lawyers have a strong history of past successful case verdicts. As our client testimonials page shows, we’ve helped New Yorkers just like you recover millions of dollars in settlements over the years.

Depending on your case, you, too, may see comparable damages . And if your medical bills are especially high, we’ll fight for you to make sure you get the damages you need to be made whole without any money coming from your own bank account.

To learn more at no charge, contact us now at 1-800-966-4999!

Contact Schwartzapfel Lawyers Today!

No matter the specifics of your auto accident, it’s a good idea to get knowledgeable lawyers on your side quickly. Whether you plan to sue an at-fault driver or are being sued, the right legal team can protect you by preparing and then mounting a winning case.

And there’s no one better to hire in New York State than Schwartzapfel Lawyers. As fully licensed New York City auto accident attorneys, we are prepared to help with your car accident lawsuit or legal defense. Moreover, we would be honored and privileged to provide you with sound legal counsel if you aren’t sure what your next steps are.

Contact us today for a free case evaluation at 1-800-966-4999!

Sources:

Schwartzapfel Lawyers, P.C. | Fighting For You

How Long Do you Have to Report a Car Accident? | FindLaw

New York Car Accident Laws | Nolo

What If My Accident Injuries Don’t Show Up Right Away? | Nolo

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