From minor fender benders to life-changing accidents, chances are you’ve either been involved in a collision or know someone who has. While many of us who have been involved in a car crash have been fortunate enough to only deal with property damage, it is not uncommon for either the driver or passengers to be left with injuries.
According to data provided by the NYS Department of Health, over 11,000 New Yorkers visit the emergency department, and over 1,000 are hospitalized for car accident injuries each month. So what should you do after an accident, and what recourse do you have to collect damages for your injuries?
What To Do After The Accident
Being involved in a car accident is a stressful, overwhelming, and sometimes emotional event. Even though it may not be easy, it’s important to remain calm and take the following steps:
If you were involved in an accident where either vehicle sustained damages or if there were injuries, you are required by New York State law to contact the authorities to report the accident. The police will need to report to the scene of the accident to file a police report. The police report will include the following information:
- Date, time, and location of the accident
- Description of the road and weather conditions
- Description of both vehicles and damages
- A diagram of the accident
- Witness statements regarding what happened
- Names and information of the parties involved
If you have sustained injuries or property damage and intend to file an insurance claim for damages, the police report will act as an important piece of evidence to solidify your claims.
Check Yourself And Others For Injuries
After calling 911 and when your vehicle is in a safe location, check yourself and any others in your vehicles for injuries. If anyone in your vehicle has sustained serious injuries, they should be checked by paramedics at the scene and transported to the hospital or urgent care center if necessary.
Document The Accident Scene
Once you’ve ensured that yourself and others are okay, if you are able, be sure to take photos and videos of the accident scene. This could include:
- Damage to your and the other driver’s vehicles
- Any of your injuries that are apparent
- Any road defects or conditions that could have caused the accident
- License plates of any cars involved
- Road signs or traffic signals at or near the scene
Collect The Other Driver’s Information
If the other driver is still present at the accident – meaning they didn’t commit a hit and run and were not taken by ambulance – exchange insurance information. Be sure to get the following information:
- Full name
- Insurance company and policy number
- Driver’s license and plate numbers
- Phone number
- Vehicle ID (If they are driving a commercial vehicle)
Talk To Witnesses
If there were any witnesses to the accident who are willing to recant what occurred at the scene of the accident, be sure to get their name(s) and contact information. Witness statements may be able to help solidify your claims if you file for damages with the insurance company.
Common Injuries From Car Accidents
The following are some of the most common injuries suffered by car accident victims:
Traumatic Brain Injuries
Car accidents are one of the leading causes of traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), which occur when the brain is damaged by a blow or piercing injury to the head. Some examples of TBIs can include:
- Intracranial hematomas
- Coup-Contrecoup brain injury
- Diffuse axonal injury (DAI)
- Second impact syndrome
- Penetrating injury
Back or Spinal Cord Injuries
The impact of a car accident can cause anywhere from mild to severe damage to a victim’s spine. Some examples of back injuries include:
- Lumbar or thoracic vertebrae fractures
- Sprains or strains
- Herniated discs
- Facet joint injuries
- Discogenic pain
- Degenerative spinal cord disorders
Soft Tissue Injuries
Injuries to the muscles, tendons, and ligaments of the body (otherwise known as soft tissue injuries) are very common in car accidents. Some examples of common soft tissue injuries include:
Broken Bones and Fractures
Broken bones and fractures – commonly the arms, wrists, legs, ankles, ribs, and pelvis—are leading injuries sustained by car accident victims. The severity of these injuries can range; some may simply require a cast to heal, while others could require ongoing surgery or medical treatment.
If either vehicle catches fire or if the skin comes in contact with hot fluids from the vehicle, the occupants can suffer from burn injuries. Some burn injuries are so severe that they may require surgery or skin grafting.
Facial Injuries or Scarring
Facial injuries can be caused by broken glass or impact on a steering wheel or dashboard. Disfigurement from these facial injuries can result in surgery which may leave lasting scars.
An arm, leg, finger, or toe can be severely injured or crushed in a car accident, which may require surgical amputation. This type of injury will likely result in a disability that will have permanent effects on the victim.
Should You Seek Medical Attention For Minor Injuries?
After a car accident, it is always recommended to seek the advice of a medical professional. Even if you believe your injury is minor in nature, having your injuries diagnosed and documented can prevent a seemingly minor injury from worsening over time without treatment.
Many medical and legal professionals would urge anyone involved in a car accident to seek care as soon as possible after the accident occurs. In the event that an injury worsens over time, and a claim through no-fault or personal injury liability coverage needs to be filed, having documentation from a doctor’s office or hospital will act as evidence to solidify your claim.
What Is The Timeline To Make A Claim For A Car Accident Injury In New York?
There are several filing deadlines that exist if you choose to pursue a personal injury claim in New York.
Here are common deadlines that apply to filing a claim for a car accident injury in New York State:
- 10 days to file a report with police and your insurance company for any accident where over $1,000 in damages, injuries, or death occurred.
- 30 days from the date of the accident to file for no-fault benefits through your insurance provider
- 30 days from the date of the accident to file for disability benefits
- Various deadlines to file for missed wages
- 90 days from the date of the accident to file a notice of claim
- One year and 90 days from the date of the accident to file a personal injury lawsuit against municipalities
- 3 years from the date of the accident to file a personal injury lawsuit against other defendants
Working With A Trusted Car Accident Attorney
Dealing with the aftermath is stressful enough without having to juggle medical records, paperwork, and insurance deadlines. Insurance companies have been known to deploy “delay, deny, and defend” tactics to wear down injury victims into settling for less than what their claims are worth.
By contacting a trusted and experienced car accident attorney as soon as possible after your accident, you can rest assured that you have the power of a professional on your side. Here’s how an attorney can help you with a car accident claim:
Knowledge of Potential Damages and Insurance Deadlines
In order to receive a fair settlement after an accident, it is imperative to have a firm understanding of your rights, the full extent of your damages, any applicable deadlines, and what constitutes fair compensation for your injuries. Fortunately, a trusted injury attorney will be able to review your case and evidence to ensure that your rights are protected and that a fair settlement is reached with the insurance company.
In-Depth Knowledge of The Law
While you might not be familiar with all of the intricacies of New York State insurance law, an attorney with experience working with car accident victims will. An experienced car accident attorney will be able to establish which laws are pertinent to your case and apply those laws if your case should go to court.
Access To Experts
Chances are, you don’t have access to accident reconstructionists or medical experts. But, a well-respected personal injury firm does. Your attorney will be able to work with experts to strengthen your claims against the at-fault party.
Negotiation and Representation
Insurance companies will try to outright deny your claim or make a lowball offer in an attempt to close your case. An attorney will negotiate a fair settlement with the insurance company using the evidence and testimonies they’ve collected. If the insurance company fails to offer a fair settlement, your attorney may recommend going to court where they will act as your counsel.
Injured In A Car Accident? Call Cellino Law
If you’ve been injured in a car accident, don’t wait to get the help you deserve. At Cellino Law, our attorneys have extensive hands-on experience working with those who have been injured in a car accident.
From minor soft tissue injuries to catastrophic damages, our team is equipped to help you take on the insurance company and recover the compensation you deserve for your pain and suffering. For a free case consultation with a car accident attorney, contact us at 800-555-5555.
Content checked by the personal injury attorney Ross Cellino. As a family man and a trial attorney, I pride myself on winning cases and serving the community. With over 35 years of experience, I understand the function of a jury, how juries arrive at conclusions, and the role that the jury plays in administering justice. I know how to win cases. You can find us in Manhattan, Buffalo, Melville, Rochester, Brooklyn, The Bronx, Queens and other locations throughout New York.
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