Six Things to Do Immediately After a Car Accident

Six Things to Do After a New York City Car Accident

Given the number of motor vehicles on the streets of New York, it is remarkable that more people are not injured in car accidents. But most New Yorkers don't own cars, which reduces the number of motor vehicle accidents. However, this fact is of little comfort if you were injured in an accident, but it may explain why you might not know what to do after an accident – you've never had one before.

Below are six essential steps to take right after a car crash in New York. Although not everything you should do is listed here, this list will get you started.

Evaluate your injuries and get help. Call 911 or ask someone to do it for you.

It is often hard to determine the extent of injuries right after an accident.  Because of the increased adrenaline in your system, you might not feel any pain. Don't assume that just because you or your passengers are able to walk that you are OK. Don't hesitate to call an ambulance. Moreover, even if you don't call the EMTs right away, it is very important to see your primary care physician as soon as possible after the crash. If there is any chance that the other driver is more severely injured than you, call that ambulance.

Move your car out of traffic if you can, but try to photograph the scene beforehand.

Don't risk further injury by leaving your car in traffic. However, don't forget that trying to push or drive a severely damaged vehicle could expose you and your passengers to additional injuries. It's your call. If you feel it's safe to move your car, use your phone to take pictures before you begin to drive or push the car. Focus on visible damage to your car, the position of your car in relation to other vehicles, buildings, the sidewalk, and obstacles such as trash cans and lamp posts. If you see skid marks or debris from the crash, take photos of those as well.

Talk with the other driver to get insurance and contact information.

If you and the other driver are able to do so, exchange information that includes names, phone numbers, addresses, work information, and anything else that will help you find the other driver later on. Talk with witnesses who saw the accident and also ask for their names and contact information.

If you do not need an ambulance, wait for the police officer. Ask how you can get a copy of the police report.

It's important to be as precise as you can when describing the accident to the police officer who responds to the call. Don't exaggerate and don't minimize. Don't jump to conclusions. If you smelled alcohol on the other driver, say so, but don't say, "He must have been drunk to do such a crazy thing." If there were other vehicles involved in the accident that left, the scene, try to describe them as completely as possible. If you spoke with witnesses who are no longer at the scene, provide their contact information to the police officer.

Call your insurance company to get a claim form.

Report your accident to your insurance company as soon as possible. Ask for a no-fault insurance application so you can cover your medical expenses and vehicle repair costs. Get an estimate of repair costs from an authorized dealer or repair shop that frequently handles your make and model of vehicle. You will need to submit your insurance claim as soon as possible, but within 30 days at the most. This will preserve your right to seek reimbursement for your lost wages and expenses.

If your injuries show up days or weeks after the accident, get worse or do not respond to medical treatment, don't just talk with your doctor. Call an experienced personal injury attorney as well.

Car accident injuries are not always obvious. Back, neck and knee injuries may take some time to present themselves. A common scenario: You might have been able to return to work the day after the accident, but two weeks later you are in serious pain. Go back to your doctor and describe your symptoms. Request referrals to specialists and to physical therapists if needed. Keep copies of your records and start a diary that details how your injuries and pain interfere with your life. And call or contact an attorney online who can advise you about your legal options.