Experiencing a car accident can be traumatic. In the immediate aftermath, it can be hard to know what to do.
Nevertheless, the steps you take after the crash can have a strong impact on any future lawsuit you may need to undertake in order to cover resulting damages.
Stay where you are
Even if you think nothing really serious has happened, you must stop. Simply leaving the scene of an accident you were involved in can violate New York law.
After you stop, exchange contact and insurance information with the other driver. If you are able, try to also obtain the contact information of any witnesses. When police officers arrive on the scene, get their information as well. Avoid moving the cars before police officers arrive unless failing to do so would present danger. Taking photographs of the scene can also help preserve evidence as to the course of the accident. Gathering as much evidence as possible can be particularly important, as many people who sustain a car crash do not have a clear recollection of how events happened.
If you see that anyone has sustained injuries, call 911 immediately. Avoid moving an injured person unless he or she is in immediate danger, such as in the path of traffic or in a vehicle about to catch fire. Do not try to treat injuries if you do not know first aid.
Seek medical attention
If you have visible injuries at the scene, first responders will likely take you to the emergency room. Whether you get emergency treatment or not, you should get a comprehensive check-up with your doctor as soon as you can, even if emergency room personnel told you that you can go home. Some internal injuries do not cause immediate symptoms but can have serious long-term effects.
If you are reading this after your accident and realize you may have misstepped, do not assume all is lost. In many cases, a qualified attorney is able to work out a way to retrieve the situation. A detailed consultation that takes into account the specifics of your case can give you a clearer view of the way forward.