What Should I Do After A Car Accident?
The first thing you need to do is pull your car over to the side of the road and check to make sure you’re all right because it’s scary. You’re nervous. You’re stressed. But you need to make sure that you’re all right and your family’s all right.
The next thing that you should definitely do is to call the police. If the police respond to the car accident, they’ll be able to check you out and see if anyone is hurt in your vehicle. You should also, if you can, take some photographs of the scene of the accident and the other car.
The most important thing, of course, is how you feel, your health, so you should wait for the police to arrive to the scene and you should speak to them about how the accident happened and you should try not to speak to the other driver if you can.
Well, if you speak to the other driver, they may, depending on how the accident happened, if it’s a rear end accident, they may or may not blame you for stopping short. You may say things to them that you don’t want to say that are going to be on record. So, it’s best to just sit in your car, wait for the police, and speak to the police.
When the ambulance arrives, if you’re feeling pain in parts of your body you should definitely go in the ambulance to the hospital. If you have family members there as well, you need to have them go to the hospital to get checked out as well because right after an accident happens, you’re going to be feeling this hyper-adrenaline rush, this stress, and you may or may not feel pain right away, so it’s good to get it checked out.
When the police come to the scene of the accident, they’re going to speak to each driver separately out of the earshot of the other driver, so you’re not going to hear what the other driver says to the police. So you need to tell the police your version of what happened. I was stopped at a light and I was hit in the rear, or the other guy went through a stop sign and hit my car, or I had the green light and he hit my car. You need to tell the police what happened.
If you don’t speak English, for example, you’re speaking Spanish or Chinese, it’s good to have maybe a child or someone in your car who can interpret for you because the police are going to write something down on that report, and you’re going to be stuck with that. So it’s a good idea to tell them exactly what happened.
In New York we have what’s called no fault. What that means is everybody who is in any car accident, regardless of fault, gets their medical bills paid for, any lost wages paid for, and up to $25 per day for cabs to doctors and/or household help. Everybody gets that no matter what. If an accident is your fault, you’re still going to get your no fault paid for, and no fault insurance goes with the car that you’re in. If you’re a pedestrian and you’re struck by a car, then it’s going to be the car that hits you. That’s the no fault insurance.
Now, the second level of that is can you bring a lawsuit. You may want to know that. Yes, you can get your medicals paid no matter what, but can you bring a lawsuit? That depends on whether or not you have a serious injury. In New York, a serious injury is defined by a statute. It can be a fracture. It can be severe scarring. It can be a permanent injury or loss of use of a body part. What that really means in lay terms is a positive result on an MRI, and continuous treatment, and a doctor saying that you have a permanent limitation or loss of use of a body part. That could be the neck; it could be the back; it could be the shoulder. So, what we have to do is wait to see. You’re going to have your medical treatment. You’re hurt and you’re going to get medical treatment. After that, we’re going to take a look at those medical record,s and we’re going to see if in fact you have a serious injury, and then we can bring a lawsuit.
We have what’s called depositions, and that’s more of an informal proceeding. However, there is a court reporter who takes everything down, and that’s a process that I would be walking you through. So I would be going through what the questions were going to be and your answers in advance so that you would not be nervous for that proceeding. Once you have a deposition, the case proceeds to the end, and it can go on the trial calendar or it can be settled.
It doesn’t matter if you have insurance. Whatever car you’re in or whatever car hits you, that no fault insurance is going to cover you for medicals, so you’re going to be able to get your treatment, take care of yourself, take care of your body. That’s the most important thing.