Car accidents can be frightening and stressful situations. They usually come out of nowhere and can leave you panicked and dazed without a sense of what to do or where to turn. It is important to know what to do, and what not to do, after an accident ahead of time, so that if you do find yourself in an accident in New York, you will be ready and act appropriately.
Immediately following a collision, you should contact emergency services such as police and medical workers. Even if you think someone else might report it, it is still valuable to make the call yourself and make sure people are on their way. You should do everything you can, within reason, to not let any other drivers involved leave the scene, and make sure police take statements from them.
Knowing what not to do, however, is just as important. For example, you should absolutely not try to move someone who seems injured in a vehicle collision. Neck and spine injuries can be very serious, and moving someone without proper knowledge of how to do so in the right way can make injuries worse, or cause additional damage. If you have a very serious worry about a possible explosion or vehicle fire, then it might be better to move someone from a vehicle if necessary, but it is almost always better not to do so if the person is not in other immediate danger.
You should never leave the scene of an accident without giving a statement to police when they arrive, and giving your information to other parties involved. Leaving the scene can result in serious criminal charges against you if you were involved in the accident. Even if you were not directly involved, you may be needed as a witness, so you should remain to give a statement.
In terms of protecting your rights, it is very important that you do not say the accident was your fault. Immediately following a crash, it can be very difficult to know everything that happened. For example, you do not know the speed the other driver was traveling at or their mental condition when it occurred. You should relay details honestly to a police officer, but do not say the accident was your fault. While you should report the accident to your insurance company, do not agree to any settlement or sign anything with any insurance provider without a lawyer present.
If you or a loved one has been involved in a car accident in New York, then call us today at Wingate, Russotti, Shapiro & Halperin, LLP at (212) 986-7353. We can discuss your case and talk about your options going forward.