What do you do if you are involved in an automobile accident?
Automobile accidents occur every day and can happen to anyone. You can project your legal rights if you know what to do. Please use these steps as a way to help guide you during an automobile accident.
Step 1: Stop Your Car
If you are involved in an accident, you should stop your car as close to the accident scene as safely as possible. Leaving the scene of an automobile accident is considered a crime for which you can be prosecuted. Remain at the scene of the accident until the police arrive. Check your medical condition and that of any other occupants in the vehicle.
Step 2: Contact The Police Immediately
Call the police at the scene of the accident immediately and respectfully insist that they come to the scene to make a report. Inform them if you need an ambulance. Do not allow anyone to convince you not to make the report. Wait for the police to arrive, even if they take an extremely long time. Filing a police report protects your rights. The consequences of not filing a police report can be huge. A police report will help ensure that you are not later blamed for the accident. In addition, it will assist you if your insurance company subsequently attempts to raise your policy rate.
Accident Victims Beware of Ambulance Chasers and Runners!
Beware of people who arrive at the accident scene and solicit you to go to a lawyer and/or doctor. They may claim to be witnesses to your accident. They are not. They are really scam artists who are paid by doctors and lawyers to illegally solicit you. Please read our previous article here so you can avoid becoming a victim.
Step 3: Gather Information
It is essential that you gather and record certain information at the scene of the accident. Some of the important information you will need to gather are as follows:
Other Driver’s Information:
– Name, address and phone number of operator
– Name, address and phone number of driver’s insurance company and policy number
– Vehicle license plate number
– Vehicle make, model and year
– Name, address and phone number
Tow Company Information:
– Name, address and phone number
– Report No.
– Badge Number
– Date and time of accident
– Location of Accident
Speaking With The Other Driver and/or Police
Do not say anything at the scene of the accident that might be used against you later such as “I am sorry.” While it is human nature to say such things – you may find out later that the accident was completely the fault of the other driver. Do not start a fight or altercation with the occupant(s) of the other motor vehicle. Such actions will only lead to further misfortune down the road.
When The Police Arrive
When the police arrive, politely insist that a report is made. Remember, the police are very busy. They respond to thousands of accidents each year. Sometimes, they get lazy. Do not allow the police to convince you that you can file a report later. The law has changed. You can only file a police report at the accident scene. You cannot file later at the precinct. The police report protects your rights and can protect you from a rise in your insurance rate. Regardless of how minimal the damage to the vehicles are, make sure that a report is made.
Towing Your Car
If your automobile needs to be towed, let the police call a tow truck. Get the name, address and telephone number of the tow company before you allow them to take your car. Make sure you are aware of the towing and storage fees.
Go To The Hospital
If you are injured, go to the hospital to have your medical condition checked out. If you are in need of an ambulance, ask for one. If not, proceed to the hospital after providing all relevant information. If you are injured and do not go to the hospital, have your medical condition checked with a doctor that accepts No Fault insurance.
Step 4: Contact Your Lawyer Immediately
Call a lawyer! Your lawyer can advise you about how to protect your rights and what your responsibilities are. You should get the advice of a lawyer before you call your own insurance company. Your lawyer will also take statements of any witness before their memories grow “dim”. Finally, you have a very short time frame in which to do certain applications with your insurance company and Department of Motor Vehicles. For these and many other reasons it is imperative to contact your lawyer as soon as possible.
Contact the Offices of Michael S. Lamonsoff, PPLC.
Contact us by e-mail or call us at 212-962-1020 (toll free at 877-MSL-4LAW or 877-675-4529) to schedule a free initial consultation.