Even though road users such as drivers, passengers, and pedestrians are usually expected to be cautious when on the road, car accidents have proven to be some of the most unpredictable events. With the number of accident victims remaining relatively higher every day despite the strict traffic laws in almost every state in the United States, New York is not an exception. All these auto accidents are usually attributable to various causes including but without limitation, distracted driving, speeding, drunk driving, and reckless driving. While a considerable number succumb to injuries on the spot, several others survive the accident, though with varying degrees of injuries that might be anything from minor to severe and life-threatening harms. Thus, it is crucial to understand what to do once an accident has occurred, to make a defensible compensation claim as well as to ensure that one follows traffic laws and regulations to the letter. What, therefore, needs to be done after an auto accident?
First, it is advisable that you stop the car and stay on the accident scene. Irrespective of the severity of the accident, it is always necessary to stop the vehicle at the scene of the crash as a way of ensuring that the situation is not worsened or even to avoid being labeled a hit-and-run driver, which is a good way of relieving you of some unnecessary legal burdens. This is considering that hit-and-run is a traffic infraction in New York and where one sustains a personal injury, then it is regarded as a misdemeanor. On the other hand, a hit-and-run guilty conviction in New Jersey, under N.J.S.A. 39:4-129, can make one liable to large fines and even possible jail term, hence the need to stop immediately. Once you have stopped, the next step you should do is to protect the scene to make sure that no more accidents occur through such acts as erecting warning signs, keeping the flashes on, among others. Where others are also part of the accident, such as the passengers, you should make sure that they are all safe from further injuries before taking the next steps and where one or more of them need specialized medical attention, you should ensure that only a qualified medical person handles the same.
Next is to call the police, whether or not the accident is a serious one to see to it that things are done accordingly. The importance of calling the police cannot be overemphasized since it is highly likely that you will need a police report necessary in filing a claim with the insurance company. Also notable is that that you make a truthful record to the investigator(s) of what transpired without speculating, guessing, or mistaking any of the facts. Where you are not certain of any fact, just make it known to the officer(s) that you are not sure. If you have a camera or a smartphone, you should take pictures of the scene, including that of the car, visible injuries, though without interfering with the ongoing investigation.
Additionally, exchanging information is also a significant activity in an accident scene. This involves obtaining the names, addresses, telephone numbers, and any other identifying information of all the individuals involved in the accident, whether as drivers, passengers, or pedestrians. Besides, it is advisable that you obtain information about insurance of all the vehicles involved as well as the information of the witnesses if available. After this, you should proceed to report the accident to the insurance company, which should be done as soon as possible considering that most auto insurance policies require immediate reporting of the accident as well as cooperation in the whole claiming process.
Lastly, you should seek medical attention, even if the injuries are not evident as most of motor vehicle accident injuries do not always manifest themselves immediately, hence informing why it is necessary to seek medical attention at the earliest time possible. Common soft tissue injuries related to car accidents are sprains and strains, whiplash injuries, neck, and low back pain, while more severe injuries involve broken bones, traumatic brain injuries, and other physical trauma. You should visit the closest hospital emergency room or use online tools like Injured Call Today to find a doctor specializing in treating injuries related to an auto accident. Also, you should always ensure that your accident-related documents are kept well while ensuring that you protect your rights as much as possible through the help of an attorney.