Car Accident: 8 Things You Should Never Take Lightly

by Staff

New York City is the biggest and most populated city in the U.S. – and it’s got the traffic to prove it. Not surprisingly, it ranks fourth in the list of cities with the worst traffic in the country. And heavy traffic typically translates to a lot of traffic accidents. On average, more than 90,000 car accidents are recorded in New York City every year.

Getting into a car accident can be confusing, stressful, and overwhelming, especially if you’ve been injured. If you’re involved in an auto accident, there are certain things you need to pay close attention to in order to protect your right to file a claim and receive maximum compensation for your injuries.

If you’re a Manhattan resident, for instance, and have sustained injuries in a car crash, you must consult with a Manhattan car accident lawyer to seek justice and fair compensation. Here are eight things you should never take lightly after a car crash.

Staying at the Scene

No matter how the accident unfolds, stay at the scene and contact law enforcement. Leaving the accident scene could be considered a crime punishable by fines or jail time. However, it’s important to assess the situation and get medical assistance if someone is seriously injured.

Reporting the Accident

Irrespective of the damages, contact the police to document the accident. Having a police report will provide crucial evidence when filing a claim, showing how the accident occurred, who was at fault, and what injury or damages were recorded. It’s also important to take the contact information of the officer filing the report.

Obtaining the Other Party’s Information

After getting into a car accident, you should collect the other party’s personal and insurance information. This includes name, phone number, address, license plate number, model and year of their car, insurance information, and driver’s license number.

While you’re at it, also remember to get the names and contact information of witnesses. Having other people attest to your version of events can come in handy if the insurance company or the at-fault driver is uncooperative.

Seeking Medical Attention

It’s always important to get checked out by a physician, regardless of the severity of your injuries. Many car accident victims walk away thinking that they were not injured. However, some injuries caused by auto accidents are not immediately apparent. Head injuries and internal bleeding, for instance, may not always show symptoms until hours or days after an accident.

If you or someone else has sustained visible injuries, seek medical attention at the nearest emergency room. Otherwise, visit your primary physician for a physical assessment right away.

Failure to seek medical attention right away is a common reason insurance companies give for denying personal injury claims. They can say that your injuries may not have been caused by the accident or that failure to receive treatment worsened your injuries.

Gathering Evidence

Authorities may clean up the accident scene quickly after the collision. That is because car accident debris might pose a hazard to other motorists using the road. With the prevalence of cell phones, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t document the accident scene. If possible, use your phone to take photos of the following:

  • Damage to involved vehicles
  • Physical damage to nearby property
  • Skid marks
  • Weather and road condition
  • Nearby traffic signs

Take wide-angle pictures of the scene from different vantage points.

Using the Words “Sorry” and “Fault”

Trying to be polite, some drivers are quick to say how sorry they are. However, the defendant and the insurance company may take advantage of your ‘sorry’ and use it as evidence to prove you were in the wrong. While it can be tempting to admit fault or apologize in the heat of the moment, just remember that it’s not your job to establish fault. Your conversation with the other party should be limited to checking if they are injured and exchanging contact information.

Protecting Your Rights

A common trick insurance adjusters use is asking a car accident victim to give a recorded statement to resolve the claim. When they contact you, just know that you do not have to and should not give them any statement without legal counsel. The information could be used against you.

In the same vein, it’s common for insurance companies to offer a quick settlement, especially when your injuries are severe. If you sign a “quick-hit” release, you lose your right to further compensation. Before signing anything, it’s important to understand the extent of your injury and the impact it will have on your life.

Hiring a Car Accident Attorney

Retaining a car accident lawyer soon after the crash is perhaps the biggest thing you should never take lightly. An attorney will make sure valuable evidence is not destroyed, take over communication with the insurance company, and help you avoid common pitfalls. They will help build a strong case for you and make sure you’re fully compensated for your injuries and losses.

Final Thoughts

You should never take a car accident lightly. It can leave you with serious health problems, emotional trauma, and a substantial financial burden. Knowing what to do (and what not to do) after an accident can protect your rights as far as your personal injury claim is concerned.

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The New Jersey Digest is a new jersey magazine that has chronicled daily life in the Garden State for over 10 years.

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