According to the New York Department of Health, the rate of hospitalizations and emergency room visits due to unintentional motor vehicle accidents has actually decreased since 2002. Although this is good news for drivers, that doesn’t mean the risk of having an accident has been eliminated. When you’re in an accident, it’s scary and stressful. Even a fender bender or minor accident is problematic. It’s very easy to forget what to do when you’ve been hit. We’d like to offer a checklist for you to follow in case you’re ever in an accident.
1. Put your hazards on and try to get out of traffic if it’s safe for you to do so.
2. Call 911 or local authorities. Get help for anyone who is injured and get to safety.
3. Exchange insurance information with the other driver. Use your smartphone to take pictures of the insurance card. Get a phone number of the other driver. NYS Vehicle and Traffic Law requires this.
4. Take pictures of the damage at the scene and get the names of any witnesses. Try to get pictures of the surroundings if possible. Write down information about the time and date of the accident, the weather and traffic conditions, and what happened. This information may be written in the police report, but it will help you remember what happened when you tell the insurance company.
5. Make small talk. Don’t take complete ownership of the accident. It’s okay to express concern for the other party, but don’t take the blame for the accident even if you feel like you’re at fault. Guilt and legal liability might be completely different things.
6. Don’t beat yourself up. Accidents happen.
7. Get a police report.
8. If the damage to any of the property is more than $1,001, all drivers must file the Report of Motor Vehicle Accident (MV-104) within 10 days of the incident.
9. If a person is injured, you must immediately notify the police.
10. Make sure to get the name of the tow company and the place where your car is being taken.
Following the accident, you’ll want to contact your insurance company and have your vehicle repaired. Document everything, from repairs to medical treatment. Get the names of the police officers and EMTs who responded to the accident. Contact an experienced personal injury lawyer to discuss a settlement to ensure your needs are taken care of in the event of a major injury.