The moments following a car crash are critical to protecting your legal rights. Not only is it essential for you to seek medical care to limit your injuries, but the scene of the accident can be a good chance to gather vital evidence.
By understanding your rights and obligations under the law, you can increase your chances of making a successful recovery for your losses. Additionally, you will be in compliance with local laws and be prepared to fight back against allegations of contributory fault. Asking what you can do to protect your rights after a car accident is a vital question that can help anyone to deal with a stressful situation.
Immediately Call the Police After a Collision
The first thing to do when involved in a car crash is to call the local police department. There are three reasons to do this. The first is that you have an obligation under the law to contact police after many car crashes. Specifically, New York’s Vehicle & Traffic (VAT) §605 says that all drivers must call the police after a collision that results in a person’s injury or at least $1,000 of property damage.
Never assume that the other party will take this step. Be sure to call as soon as you are able, in order to protect yourself against any potential criminal charges.
Second, calling the police will result in the creation of a police officer’s report. This is a non-biased explanation of the facts of the case that is powerful evidence in an insurance dispute or possible trial.
Finally, calling the police can also result in emergency responders sending an ambulance or other medical aid. This can help to memorialize the seriousness of an injury, as well as allow you to obtain prompt medical care.
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Take Pictures and Video of the Scene of the Crash
There is no doubt that car crashes are chaotic events that can leave you disoriented and confused. However, it is also true that the moments after are important, as they allow you to obtain evidence concerning the incident.
Fortunately, almost everyone has a powerful tool in their pocket that allows them to capture photos and video with the push of a button—their cellphones. If you are able to walk and do not need immediate medical attention from emergency services, try your best to document the scene of the crash. This can include taking pictures and video of:
- The damage to all involved vehicles
- The resting places of the cars
- The weather at the time of the collision
- Any stop signs, traffic signals, or other devices that control the flow of traffic
If at all possible, use technology to your advantage to strengthen your claim.
Seek Out Prompt and Competent Medical Care
Every person involved in a car accident should make a visit to a local emergency room. Whether this is by ambulance or you make your own way there, this is a vital step towards making your best recovery and documenting the effects of the crash.
Your primary concern should always be to limit any potential physical injuries. Only by visiting an emergency room can you receive the best medical care and obtain a complete diagnosis of the effects of the crash on your health.
Going to see a doctor is also essential for building a case against another driver. Having medical records that document your losses is an essential part of any claim for damages. Additionally, the ER doctor should make a clear reference to an auto accident being the source of your injuries. This can help to make a causal connection between the collision and your losses.
Let your Attorney Reach Out to Your Insurance Company
Many people are hesitant to contact their insurance companies after a collision. They may fear an intrusive investigation into their lives or a raising of their premiums. You should always first contact your attorney, and then let your attorney speak with the insurance company.
Your insurance policy will contain provisions for covering some of your medical expenses. In many cases, this can pay the emergency room bill. Your insurance plan may also cover the property damage to your car.
More importantly, your insurance company may not want to pay the costs of the other driver’s losses. They might fight to investigate the incident to protect themselves against allegations that you were to blame for the crash. That being said, be careful not to provide damaging information to the other driver’s insurance company.
Hiring a lawyer can help you to make only the bare minimum contact with insurance companies and to meet the time limits to pursue a lawsuit under New York Civil Practice Law & Rules (CVP) §214.
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Knowing What to Do to Protect Your Rights After a Car Accident
One of the most common questions we hear is, “What can I do to protect my rights after a car accident?” While every person’s situation is unique, a few common concepts apply to every case. You should always call the police after a crash. This can help to document the incident and may result in the receipt of medically necessary, immediate care (if an ambulance is called to the scene). You should also try to take pictures or video of the scene of the accident.
Finally, be cautious when dealing with insurance companies. You should inform your own provider about the crash, but do not provide more than the bare minimum of information to the other driver’s company. The Law Office of Cohen & Jaffe, LLP can talk to you about the vital steps to take after a car crash.
Call us today at (516) 358-6900 to learn more.