No one expects to get into a car accident. The average driver will get into a one-car accident that requires insurance support only about every 18 years. Thus, you may have no idea what to do after you get into a car accident or how to manage things at the accident scene and beyond to streamline the process so you can seek the compensation you deserve.
The actions you take at the accident scene, however, can leave a substantial impact on your ability to acquire that much-needed compensation.
Did you have a car accident in Syracuse caused by the other driver’s negligence? Follow these steps to help get you back on the road and increase the odds that you will recover the compensation you deserve.
At the Scene of the Accident
Taking the right steps following your accident starts at the scene, long before anyone else even knows about the accident.
1. Report the accident to the Syracuse Police Department.
You can call 911 to summon both the Syracuse Police Department and an ambulance, if needed, to the scene of the accident.
Depending on who caused the accident, the other driver may try to convince you not to call the police. After all, he might insist, he has a lot of points on his license, and he does not want to pick up any more over this accident. He will call his insurance and notify them to take care of the damages, or even take care of them himself.
Unfortunately, if you fail to call the police, you may later have a much harder time proving exactly who caused your accident and that you have the right to compensation for any injuries you suffered or damage to your vehicle. Do not drive away from the scene of the accident without reporting it. Instead, call the Syracuse Police Department and let an officer respond to the scene.
2. Avoid statements that brush off the other driver’s liability or, worse, take it on yourself.
Imagine this scenario: while getting ready to make a turn, you crash into a driver who pulled straight through a stop sign.
The other driver insists that he never saw you due to overgrown brush at the side of the road. You accept his apology and note that you also had a hard time seeing him. Suddenly, it could prove much more difficult to establish liability in the accident, since, if both drivers suffered from impaired visibility, you have no real way to know which of you arrived at the intersection first.
Instead, offer only what information you must about the accident itself, and avoid any statement that might shift liability to you.
3. Collect evidence, if you can safely move around the scene of the accident.
Take inventory of your injuries first. Do not get out of your vehicle in an unsafe area or put yourself in danger of increased injury to collect evidence.
However, if you can safely move around the scene, you may want to collect:
- The other driver’s license, insurance, and license plate information
- A picture of the damage to both vehicles
- Pictures of the scene of the accident
- Pictures of any injuries you sustained in the accident
If liability later gets disputed as you handle your car accident claim, that evidence can prove vital to establishing liability and increasing the odds that you will recover the compensation you deserve.
4. Seek medical attention.
Syracuse offers easy access to a variety of hospitals, from Upstate University Hospital to Crouse Hospital or St. Joseph’s Hospital Health Center. If you have relatively minor injuries or assume that you have only relatively minor injuries, you could also go to a doctor at an urgent care center to evaluate your injuries.
Many accident victims try to “walk it off” after an accident, rather than seeking medical attention. The high cost of medical bills often convinces people that they should adopt a “wait and see” approach to any injuries. However, failing to seek medical attention after a car accident in Syracuse can have severe consequences.
Injuries like traumatic brain injury may not show their full impact immediately after the accident. If you suffered a chest contusion, including a bruised lung or heart, you may not realize the full extent of those damages immediately.
Many people also sustain broken bones in car accidents but do not address them immediately because the adrenaline coursing through their bodies after the accident masks their pain.
A doctor can help identify those injuries and provide the treatment you need. Not only that, seeking medical attention immediately after your Syracuse car accident will establish that your injuries took place during the accident, rather than at some other time. As a result, it may prove easier to seek the compensation you deserve.
After the Accident
Once you leave the scene of your Syracuse car accident, often in an ambulance, you need to continue to take the steps that will protect you, both physically and financially, as much as possible.
1. Follow all instructions given by your medical care providers.
Depending on the extent of your injuries, your doctors may recommend an extensive course of treatment. You may have specific limitations to your activities that you must follow to increase your odds of making a full recovery or prevent you from making your injuries worse. Your doctor or physical therapist may also recommend specific actions you can take to increase your rate of recovery or improve overall strength and mobility following your accident.
Those instructions can prove critical to your eventual recovery and your Syracuse car accident claim. If you fail to follow your medical providers’ instructions, it could worsen your injuries or increase the time needed for you to make a full recovery.
Furthermore, the liable driver’s insurance company may try to claim that since you did not take the necessary steps to aid in your own recovery, you bear liability for a percentage of your own injuries.
2. Keep track of your medical records and medical bills.
Your car accident injuries may require a lot of effort for you to fully keep up with everything, from the specific recommendations given by your doctor to the overall cost of treatment. As you recover, you must keep track of your medical bills and records so that you will have that evidence on hand when you need it.
Your records, including x-rays, scans, test results, and instructions issued by your doctor, will help establish the extent of your injuries and the treatments necessary for you to recover. Your medical bills, on the other hand, will establish the financial costs you faced after your accident.
Since much of your car accident claim may depend on your medical costs, you may want to have those bills readily at hand, where you can easily present them as your attorney puts together your claim.
3. Contact a lawyer as soon after your car accident as possible.
Any time you sustain serious injuries in any type of Syracuse auto accident, from pedestrian accidents and motorcycle accidents to big truck accidents, you need an attorney to help you handle your claim. Do not wait to get in touch with a personal injury attorney. In fact, contact an attorney before you even contact the insurance companies that will help cover your claim.
An attorney can help go over your right to compensation from the very beginning. Often, insurance companies will try to get out of providing the full compensation you deserve for your injuries.
Many companies will start with a very low settlement offer, often in the immediate aftermath of your accident, before you even really know what your eventual medical expenses will look like.
An attorney, on the other hand, can help make sure you know what your compensation should really look like, which means you will have a better idea of when you should accept an offer and when you should continue to negotiate.
A car accident lawyer can also help go over the situation that may have led to your accident and, in many cases, identify multiple parties that may share liability for the accident.
For example, New York’s dram shop law indicates that if a bar, restaurant, or liquor store serves a driver under the age of 21, or someone who suffers from visible intoxication, that store may bear partial liability for any injuries caused by that inebriated driver.
Did your accident occur with a driver on the clock for a company that required him to drive as part of his daily job responsibilities? If so, that company may, in many cases, share liability for the accident. A lawyer can help go over all of those details and give you a better idea of who may share liability in your specific Syracuse car accident claim.
4. Contact your insurance company.
You may need to contact your insurance provider to provide information about the accident. As a New York driver, you must carry PIP insurance, or personal injury protection insurance, as part of your auto insurance coverage. PIP insurance helps cover the initial cost of medical bills associated with any type of car accident.
Regardless of who caused your accident, PIP insurance can offer vitally necessary support that will help provide for your immediate medical costs. It does not, however, help cover injuries from any other source.
You may need to notify your insurance company about how your injuries occurred and give other information about the accident. Your insurance adjuster can provide you with more information about how much coverage you have and how your insurance will help in the immediate aftermath of the accident.
However, make sure you talk with your attorney before issuing any statement about the accident. You may want to have communication with the insurance company go through your lawyer, especially in cases where the other driver attempts to dispute liability.
Further, you may want to talk to your health insurance company about what coverage you will have for car accident-related injuries. Your health insurance may provide vital assistance in covering the cost of long-term medical care associated with your accident, especially if you suffered injuries that will require long-term medical treatment.
When you talk to your insurance provider, you may want to ask questions about what type of coverage you have, including coverage for durable medical equipment or in-home care after you sustained serious injuries.
5. Talk to your employer about your accident and when you feel you can return to work.
You will need to notify your employer about your accident as soon as possible, since your employer will need to know that you cannot show up for work immediately after the accident. After that, you may need to stay in contact with your employer regarding your doctor’s instructions and when you feel you can reasonably return to work.
Some employers can work with you after your accident. They may change your immediate duties or even allow you to work remotely while you recover, especially if your injuries only prevent you from going into the office.
Other employers, however, may require you to make a full recovery before you can go back to work. The more closely you work with your employer, the better you will know what steps you need to take next. Keep track of hours and opportunities lost at work due to your injuries, since they may later impact your car accident claim. You should also note any vacation time or sick time used during your recovery.
Did you suffer serious injuries in a Syracuse car accident? An experienced Syracuse auto accident attorney can help you learn more about your right to compensation and your next steps.
Mr. Finkelstein is the Managing Partner of Finkelstein & Partners, LLP. He has become a noted consumer activist through his representation of injured individuals against corporate wrongdoers and irresponsible parties.
An accomplished litigator, Mr. Finkelstein has represented Plaintiffs in wrongful death and catastrophic personal injury cases. He has successfully handled dozens of multi-million dollar cases.