I’ve Been In A Car Accident – Now What?
Car accidents happen every day, multiple times a day. With every accident you hope the only damage is to your vehicle, but for many, that’s not the case. Injuries, some very serious, are likely to happen in car accidents.
In Nassau County, each week nearly 100 people were hospitalized and nearly 1000 people were treated in an emergency room due to a car accident in 2014, according to the Department of Health. Annually, car accidents resulted in about $54 million in hospital bills and approximately $40 million in emergency room charges. These accidents were also the fourth leading cause of death in Nassau County.
That’s a lot of money – and that doesn’t even take into account the cost of the damage to the cars. Many car accidents are avoidable, but they are also inevitable. All of us have either been in one or know someone who has. But just as many of those accidents may be avoidable, so are the mistakes you can make after a car accident.
One of the biggest mistakes people make is deciding not to call the police. Just do it. It doesn’t matter how big or small you think the car accident is, it doesn’t matter if the other people involved say they will cover the damages – make sure you have a police report.
Document, document, document. Even a police report can contain errors, so make sure you have all of the information you need for yourself. Make sure you have the names and contact information of all the people involved in the accident, that includes passengers and any witnesses. Get driver’s license and license plate numbers. The makes and models of the cars involved. The exact location of the accident. Insurance information. The names of all police and other emergency responders. Make sure you have visual documentation of the cars involved and any damage, and any evidence in the roadway or damage to property.
One thing you shouldn’t document is your signature. Don’t sign any agreements between you and the other parties involved. The only thing at the accident scene that will require your signature is a police report.
Collecting all of this information not only safeguards you should you potentially be sued, but it allows you to have all the pertinent information should you need to collect for damages or medical bills. When you contact an attorney to assist you after a car accident, all of this information will help facilitate a smooth relationship.
While your insurance company, and the insurance company of the other parties involved, have their own attorneys, they aren’t truly working for you as an individual.
Many have been trained to ask questions that may trick a car accident victim to admit responsibility. Progressive Insurance Company is notorious for having victims of motor vehicle accidents sign away their legal rights for a minimal settlement. Even though New York is a No-Fault state, all that means is that your medical bills are covered under your insurance for a minimum of $50,000, it doesn’t mean the other parties insurance company has to, or will pay. That money you receive from your insurance company usually is not enough to cover medical bills or necessary treatment after a major car accident. Hiring an attorney immediately after your accident gives you the ability to focus on your recovery while making sure all your T’s are crossed and I’s are dotted.
The documentation you get at the accident scene can be critical to the outcome of your case. Other than taking a few steps to protect yourself, initially, as we discussed before, most of the heavy lifting comes later, and focusing on your recovery, or the recovery of your friends and family should be your number one priority. Having your attorney deal with insurance companies and claims will not only protect you, but it will also lift what can be a very heavy burden following a car accident and likely improve your financial outcome.