Even if you’re a careful driver, unforeseen things happen all the time—especially if you’re driving in NYC.
With more than 45% of residents owning a car, the odds of being in an auto accident are relatively high.
If you are ever in a car accident, it’s good to know what to do to make sure you stay safe and get back to your normal routine.
In this post, we’ll cover everything you need to know about what to do after an accident. That includes what to do about any injury, who to call, and in what order.
What Should I Do If I’ve Been In a Car Accident?
You might be familiar with the adage, “Most car accidents happen close to home.” This may sound like an exaggeration, but the truth is that 88% of people get injured within ten miles of their homes.
But no matter where your car accident takes place, there are several things that you should do right away.
Step #1: Check For Injuries
It’s unlikely that a car accident will leave everybody in both parties without a single injury. Even the smallest collision can lead to unforeseen injuries, like a concussion or neck pain caused by whiplash.
So if you’re in an accident, double-check yourself and anyone else in the car for any injuries. It’s crucial that you call an ambulance and go to the hospital following your accident so that a medical professional can examine you—but in the meantime, if there are no emergencies, then do your best to move your car to safety.
Step #2: Get to Safety
Moving to safety should be the next priority in the event of a car accident, especially if you’re on a busy street or the highway. If you don’t move your vehicle, then you’re putting yourself at risk for another accident from an oncoming driver.
Pull off the road entirely and put on your hazard lights. If you have cones or reflective emergency triangles, set them up around the accident to warn other cars from a safe distance.
You must remove everybody from the scene if there’s a risk of explosion. Common signs include smoking from the engine, leaks, sparks, and of course, any fire. Call 911 immediately in instances like these.
Step #3: Call 911
It’s always best to call the police, even if everybody is cooperating in the situation. The police reports can potentially help speed up the claim to get you the benefits you are entitled to quicker by providing necessary information like:
- A suggestion of which party is at-fault
- Weather conditions
- Location of the accident
- Time and date
- Description of the road’s conditions
- Types of vehicles
- The drivers’ conditions
Plus, this information can better support your version of the accident if you decide to consult with a lawyer.
Step #4: Document the Car Accident
Although the police will pull everybody’s information, it’s wise to do your own documentation, like exchanging information with the other driver (or pedestrian) and taking plenty of photos of the scene and damage to the vehicles.
Some things you’ll want to write down include:
- The name and insurer of the other driver
- Witness contact information, like other drivers and pedestrians
- Photos of any damage
- The police report number
- The officer’s name and telephone number
- Personal notes and accounts of what happened
To make documenting easier, you can download the National Association of Insurance Commissioners’ free app “WreckCheck” for a step-by-step guide in creating an accident report.
Step #5: Call a Car Accident Lawyer
Unless you’re a lawyer, you probably don’t know the ins and outs of defending yourself when it comes to a car accident claim. So no matter the amount of damage or type of injury, it’s always a good idea to call an auto accident lawyer to protect you and defend your case moving forward.
How Much Will My Car Insurance Go Up After An Accident?
Although the new cost of your insurance will heavily depend on your driving history, Insure.com found that New Yorkers who file a claim will experience a 24% increase in their insurance rate.
However, an experienced car accident lawyer in New York City should know the details of the state’s car insurance laws and policies. They will work to reduce your rate after your claim has been filed by proving you were not at-fault. Your lawyer may also look into an accident forgiveness clause or take advantage of other discounts, like New York’s defensive driving course.
Why Should You Call a Car Accident Lawyer?
For many, contacting a lawyer might be the last thing on your to-do list if you’ve been in a car accident.
But if you’ve been injured or need to pay for repairs, consulting with an experienced car accident lawyer can be the best choice, especially if:
- You suffered injuries in the collision
- Your injuries are permanent, long-lasting, or cause you to be away from work
- Liability is being challenged
- The insurance company revalues or denies your claim
Here’s why working with personal injury lawyers in New York can only benefit your case (and your money!):
Benefit #1: Handle the Insurance Company
Like insurance company reps, lawyers are skilled negotiators and loophole finders. Your lawyer will do just about everything that involves dealing with the insurance company, like negotiation, handling the claim’s details, and preparing a written statement. They can also help combat your insurance rate from skyrocketing after filing a claim.
If you decide to go against the insurance company alone, keep in mind that they will try to lowball you for your injuries or even deny a valid claim. The best thing you can do is consult with a personal injury attorney in accidents like these.
Benefit #2: Prove Liability for Your Accident and Injuries
One of the hardest parts of an accident claim is proving another person’s fault. The good news is that a car accident attorney will lay all the groundwork so that you don’t have to. While they work, you can sit back and recover from your injuries.
Your lawyer will handle proving your injuries, which might include consulting with medical experts, reconstructing the accident scene, obtaining the accident report, gathering your medical records, and interviewing witnesses.
Benefit #3: Determine the Value of Your Injuries
Your lawyer’s job is to prove and determine the value of your injuries. Since insurance companies will try to deny the severity of your injuries, your lawyer will account for any medical bills, lost wages, and any pain and suffering. They’ll also negotiate a fair settlement and assist you in upcoming steps, like filing a personal injury lawsuit.
Calculating the Value of Your Car Accident Claim
Two main factors help determine a car accident settlement:
- The severity of your injuries
- How much the insurance company will pay
So to prepare for your claim, you’ll want to include plenty of information on your medical bills, any potentially lost wages, and any pain and suffering.
Even a checkup will cost you something. Whether it’s a copay or out-of-pocket, be sure to keep a record of any medical bills and doctor visits you receive after your car accident injury. Some important documents include:
- A list of any care, tests, and medicine you received
- How long you were in the hospital (This is important because the average cost of a night in the E.R. costs around $1,400)
- Transportation in the hospital (Nearly 79% of patients paid around $450 after insurance)
- Surgery costs
- Potential aftercare, like physical therapy, medication, or in-home care
Many car accidents will require time away from work since you have to recoup. This means that you’re cutting into your vacation and sick days at work—or, for many, taking unpaid time off.
To prove lost wages, you’ll need to show previous pay stubs to prove what you were making per week or month. Your lawyer can then help work to get you compensation for any time missed.
Pain and Suffering
Physical injuries may be the only things you can see with your own eyes, but mental damage and emotional distraught are equally important things to consider when filing a claim.
Important things to consider when evaluating your wellbeing after an accident might include:
- If you’re experiencing anxiety or depression
- Loss of companionship, like if someone died during the accident
- Inability to concentrate or perform tasks like you used to
Unfortunately, insurance companies are in the business of making money, which is why most car accident victims decide to work with accident attorneys.
The city that never sleeps rightfully earned its nickname: Whether they’re pedestrians or drivers, millions of people take to the streets to get around—which means that dozens of accidents happen every single day.
No matter the cause of your car accident, you likely suffered injuries and need to pay for property damage. Luckily, there’s good news: Hiring an experienced personal injury or car accident lawyer will allow you to recover comfortably while they work to defend you.
That’s where Schwartzapfel Lawyers come in: With more than 35 years of combined experience, this passionate team of personal injury attorneys is dedicated to FIGHTING FOR YOU®. If you’ve been in a car accident, contact Schwartzapfel Lawyers today to get a free consultation.