As a Manhattan motorist, you likely face complicated traffic situations as you commute to work or travel on the weekend to enjoy activities with your family and probably give little thought to the risk of being involved in a car accident. However, Manhattan is part of the most populous city in the entire United States, with more than 8 million people residing in New York City, New York, and the influx of vehicles, bicyclists and pedestrians each day causes traffic accidents that range from minor incidents to those that cause major injuries and even death.
If you find yourself in the aftermath of a Manhattan car accident, you may not feel confident about what information you need if you plan to file a personal injury lawsuit against the other driver. Speaking to an attorney about what data you need and who to give access to that information can have a significant impact on your case.
Directly After the Accident
The moments after a Manhattan car accident are often filled with uncertainty. Depending on the speed at the moment of impact, you, your passengers and the other driver may have significant injuries. Once everyone exits the vehicles and moves to a safe area, you can gather initial details about the accident, including:
- The names of the other people involved
- Insurance information
- Any visible injuries
- The nearest intersection street names
If someone has a serious injury, wait for help to arrive, as moving them may cause further trauma. Avoid moving your vehicle until the police arrive, as its location and the direction it faces may provide them with clues about how the accident happened. If you have your phone with you, take photos of the accident scene, including damage to both vehicles.
Avoid Discussing Blame
Once you and the other driver exit your vehicles, it is wise to avoid discussing who allegedly caused the accident. If anyone involved pushes you to talk about the details, simply advise that person you wish to wait until the authorities arrive before you discuss any incidents that may have caused the wreck. If the other driver accuses you directly, let him or her know you acknowledge that opinion but avoid arguments or any detailed discussions regarding blame.
Even a casual or unintended comment, such as “I’m sorry, the sun was in my eyes,” may count against you as an admission of guilt if you file a lawsuit later on. Remaining with your vehicle or in a safe area nearby alone until police and emergency units arrive can help you protect your privacy.
Contact Your Insurance Provider
While you wait for the authorities to arrive, you can expedite the insurance portion of your accident by contacting your insurance provider or your local agent to start the claim process. Many insurance companies now offer phone apps that allow you to perform several steps right away, including:
- Sending photos of the accident scene
- Calling for tow truck services
- Filling out preliminary claim information
Once the police arrive, make an accident report and ask for the reporting officer’s name and badge number so you have this information later on.
The Following Week
During the days following your accident, try to continue to gather details by working with your insurance agent. Because New York is a no-fault insurance state, all drivers must carry Personal Injury Protection insurance. This guarantees that anyone hurt in the accident has coverage for injuries, lost wages and medical care, no matter who was at fault.
If your injuries exceed the PIP $50,000 cap or you want to sue for non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering or mental trauma, make a list of details regarding those injuries and how they interfere with your daily life before you seek out a lawyer.
Order a Police Report
A police report is usually available several days to a week after the accident. You can request a copy and gather important details from the authorities’ review and investigation of the scene, such as:
- The exact time of the wreck
- The direction each car came from
- What witnesses saw
- What reported actions may have caused the accident
Keep in mind that police reports do not name guilty parties and simply report the facts of the accident. Your insurance company adjuster may determine fault initially before your case moves ahead to a court of law. It is wise to review the police report in full to ensure it does not contain any factual errors, such as the make or model of your vehicle or which direction your car faced just before the accident occurred.
Document Property Damage
A detailed report of damage to your vehicle can provide you with effective evidence once your case goes to court. Have your car inspected by a certified garage and ask them to provide you with a detailed list of the damages, including those that cannot be easily seen. Have your mechanic note the car’s mileage and request a history of mechanical work performed before the accident so you can prove your car did not experience any malfunctions.
Your vehicle’s damage can also help you gather further details about how the accident allegedly occurred. Paint chips, scrapes, and the location of dents and body cracks might all provide clues about your car’s location at the point of impact and may even reveal whether the other driver was speeding at the time.
Speak To An Attorney
Once you have all your papers in order, speak to an attorney about the crash and whether you have the ability to file a personal injury lawsuit. If the other driver’s actions were especially negligent, you can ask your attorney about filing punitive damages, which exist to punish the defendant for neglectful or dangerous behavior.
You can provide your lawyer with details regarding this section of your lawsuit, including what you or your witnesses saw on the day of the accident. For example, if a text or a phone call held the other driver’s attention and someone waiting at the corner witnessed this before the crash, you may have greater proof of that person’s negligent act. You can ask your attorney to contact any witnesses and whether any might agree to testify on your behalf.
The Day Of Your Court Date
When the day of your court appearance arrives, do your best to arrive punctually and bring all relevant documents with you that detail your accident, injuries and property damage. While your attorney likely has all relevant documents in hand, it may provide you with greater peace of mind to keep all documented details nearby.
As you wait for your case to begin, refrain from sharing any details regarding your lawsuit on social media. Even seemingly innocent comments can invite blame or give the defense reason to use your social media use in court. Keep the details of your accident private and ask any passengers and witnesses to do the same.
Let Us Help You
Being involved in a Manhattan car accident can cause you to feel unsettled and unsure of how to proceed, especially if you or your passengers have serious injuries that eclipse no-fault insurance payouts. At Cellino Law, we understand the kind of stress a car wreck can cause and stand by to help you with all your personal injury lawsuit needs. Call us toll-free today at (716) 555-5555 or contact us on our website for further information.