The immediate aftermath of a car accident is stressful and confusing, regardless of the severity. Whether your incident was a relatively minor fender bender or you were involved in a major crash with injuries, it is crucial to keep calm and take actions that keep you safe and protect your rights.
Learn the steps to take after a collision to build a strong case and give you the best chance maximizing your compensation.
In the first few minutes following a collision, the first thing on your mind should be ensuring that you, your passengers, and other road users are as safe as possible. Check yourself for injuries first, and if you can, move your car away from the road to prevent additional accidents.
If your injuries aren’t too severe, check on your vehicle’s occupants, then check for the well-being of other drivers. If you cannot move or if your injuries make it difficult or painful to do so, call 911.
Regardless of the severity of your and others’ injuries, calling 911 is vital for multiple reasons. In addition to calling EMTs to ensure any injured people receive prompt medical attention, a 911 call also alerts police that an accident has occurred.
In New York, you are required to notify the police and create an accident report within 10 days of a collision that causes $1,000 or more in property damage or injuries. When the police arrive on the scene, they will fill out a report to document the accident.
You can use this report to file a claim with your PIP insurance or a third-party claim if your injuries meet the state’s serious injury threshold.
After checking for injuries and receiving emergency care from the EMTs, gather details and contact information from all involved in the collision. Get other drivers’ contact information and collect contact information for any witnesses who saw the accident.
Essential information you’ll need:
- Location of the accident
- Full names
- Contact details like telephone numbers and e-mail addresses
- Make, model, color, and license plate numbers of every vehicle involved
- Witness statements and testimonies
Gather evidence of the crash and the resulting damage as soon as possible. Start with evidence showing what occurred, such as video or photos of the accident scene. Video footage and recordings of the accident can be crucial for determining which parties are at fault and to what degree.
Examples of this type of evidence include:
- Dash cam footage from drivers involved or witnessing the accident
- Traffic camera footage
- Video recordings from witnesses on the street or sidewalk
After the collision, collect evidence that documents the consequences of the accident. This proof can show the extent of your damages and help lawyers accurately estimate the compensation you are owed.
Common examples include:
- Photos of your vehicle’s damage
- Photos of your injuries
- Photo and video evidence of the accident scene
- Medical records of your injuries following the accident
- Copies of the police reports
- Witness statements in writing
It is critical to be careful of what you say and who you speak to, especially in the time between the accident and when you hire a lawyer to represent you. The negligent driver or insurance company may attempt to contact you and pressure you into making statements admitting fault or minimizing the extent of your injuries.
Even simple, spur-of-the-moment statements that may seem innocent on the surface, such as “I’m fine,” “I’m sorry,” or “That was my fault,” can be used against you. Do not make statements on the record because insurance companies look for ways to reduce or deny your claim.
The best way to protect your rights and build a claim is to hire a skilled car accident lawyer from Catalano Law as soon as possible after an accident. Our attorneys have the resources and legal expertise to help you gather evidence and review the facts of your case.
We can provide legal guidance on how to protect your rights and avoid mistakes that could reduce the compensation you receive. We’ll help you negotiate with the insurance company to obtain the maximum compensation for your damages.
If you were injured in a car accident in New York, contact Catalano Law. Our legal team has served the communities of Syracuse and the Southern Tier for over two decades, helping thousands of victims get the financial recovery they need to regain control of their lives.
We work on a contingency basis, allowing you to get the legal help you need without worrying about upfront costs.
Contact us today for a complimentary case review so you can understand your options for compensation.