My name is Steve Schwartzapfel. I represent people that have been injured. When somebody else broke the rules, I seek to go ahead and hold that person accountable.

Often when somebody is involved in a New York auto accident, they’re in a state of shock, a state of disbelief and they’re not certain what to do, so let me share with you a few things that you should do to protect yourself and your family.

First, move the cars off the road. I can’t tell you how many accidents I’ve seen where people leave the cars, get out, look at the damage in the middle of a freeway, and often stand between the vehicles such as they expose themselves to further injury. Looking at property damage while a vehicle is still on the travel portion of the highway is extremely dangerous.

Next, call 911. Summon the police. Even if the other side says, or the person who hit you says, we don’t need the police / we’ll take care of it, call the police. You don’t know if the person is insured, has no insurance or is just going to leave the scene.

Next thing, take photographs. Use your cell camera and take pictures of the property damage, of the surroundings, of the vehicles, of any injuries you have. Next, get the information from the driver. The other driver is obligated to go ahead and give his name, license and insurance card. Get the insurance company and the serial number. Also, get the names of witnesses. Very often there are witnesses, bystanders and good Samaritans that come to your aid that are there to help you. You’re not thinking clearly, so make sure to get witness statements, names and addresses, because what you need to do is preserve the evidence early on.

When the police or ambulance arrive and you’re feeling any pain, however minor, go in the ambulance to the emergency room. Very often, there’s a latency period. A lot of injuries don’t occur until much later on. In fact, the insurance company will argue that you must have not been seriously injured, even though later you might require surgery because you didn’t go in the ambulance. So though it may be embarrassing, if you feel any discomfort or pain, get in the ambulance.

Once you’re in the hospital, don’t exaggerate but go ahead and document, share every complaint or concern you have with the doctor. However minor. In the event you sustain a fracture, the doctor’s going to be just looking at the broken arm. But if your knee hurts or your shoulder hurts or ankle hurts, let them know. Document it, because the defense of the insurance companies will later claim that you must have hurt yourself elsewhere, even if you complained a week later because the time you went to the hospital, you did not voice a complaint. So, you’re going to get in the ambulance, you’re going to go to the hospital, you give every complaint, however minor to the doctors.

If you are involved in a New York auto accident, these are the things you should do. First, get the vehicles off the road. Two, call police. Three, take photographs. Four, exchange the contact information — name, address, insurance company, make model of the vehicle and license plate number. If any witnesses are present, get their names, numbers and contact information. Police show up, do not give a statement. Do not admit fault. Next, go to the emergency room. Give all complaints, however minor. Lastly, follow up with the insurance company and most importantly, call me. I will help you through this difficult and stressful process.

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