What To Do If Involved In A Car Accident
The more miles you drive a year, the greater your chances of getting into an accident. In this article, we will discuss certain things you should do in the unfortunate event you are involved in a motor vehicle accident.
Upon the occurrence of an accident, your first priority should be the safety of yourself and others. Unless there is some type of danger to them, injured persons should generally not be moved. Call 911 and wait for trained emergency service personnel. If you are not sure of the seriousness of your injuries, we would recommend seeing a physician. The old maxim better safe, than sorry works perfectly here.
Additionally, if you are the operator of a motor vehicle involved in an accident involving personal injury, damage to real or personal property or injury to a horse, cat, dog or cattle, you may not leave the scene without first giving your name, address, telephone number, license and insurance card to the affected person. If the affected person is not present at the accident scene, then you are required to report it to the nearest police station as soon as you are physically able to do so.
It is highly advisable to also call and wait for the police in the event you are involved in an accident. The police officer will prepare a report which very well may help you in negotiating with the insurance company regarding a claim you may have. It is not unheard of for someone to deny they were even in an accident and a police report eliminates such a claim. You can purchase the report at the officers precinct for $10.00. Note that the police precinct will only accept a money order or certified check.
The police officer will ask you what happened. Try and remain calm, and explain clearly and succinct what transpired. Additionally, do not be afraid to point out evidence that supports your version, such as skid marks to the location of debris. The officer will write down both versions of the incident. If there is a witness, ask the police officer to take the witnessstatement as well. At the very least, the officer should be asked to put the witnesses name, address and telephone number on the report.
If you have or can get a camera, it is also helpful to take photographs of the accident scene as well as the damage to the vehicles involved. Take many shots from various angles. You never know what photograph will be helpful to you.
If you are personally injured in the accident, then you should contact an attorney to assist you. Most law firms are likes ours and do not charge for a consultation and, if they accept your case, will only charge a fee if they obtain a settlement or award on your behalf.Personal injury attorneys usually charge one-third of the recovery and will lay out the expenses of the case. Beware, however, that New York law prevents suits where the person has not sustained a serious injury. Your attorney can explain to you the serious injury requirement and advise you whether you meet this threshold.
Regardless of whether you intend on pursuing a personal injury claim, you should always file a No Fault Application when you are hurt in an automobile accident. The insurance company of the vehicle occupied by you is responsible for paying No Fault coverage which encompasses all out-of-pocket losses as a result of the accident (i.e., hospital bills, medical bills, pharmaceutical expenses, etc.) as well as lost wages due to the accident. The No Fault application must be filed with 30 days of the accident so this matter should be diligently pursued. When you report the accident to your insurance company, it should send you this application. For a variety of reasons, No Fault coverage is preferable to submitting your bills to your private health insurer.
If you are putting a property damage claim, you should submit it to either the other drivers insurance company (if the accident was not your fault) or your own insurance company (if the accident was your fault). If there is partial culpability, then you can submit it to both, although you cannot collect more than your actual damages. Always, get a claim number and refer to it whenever you contact the insurance company. You will need two estimates or one paid bill and it is highly advisable to afford the insurance company an opportunity to inspect the vehicle prior to repair. If you vehicle is used for livery purposes, you can also put in a claim for loss of use. Insurance companies often will discount your claim by the percent of fault assigned to your conduct.
For example, if they conclude that you were 20% responsible for the accident, then you will only be offered 80% of your damages. You, of course, do not have to accept the offer and can either attempt to get it to change its position or pursue your legal remedies. Also, insurance companies do not have to pay your repair costs if the vehicles book value is less than the cost of repair. In such a case, they merely have to pay book value if they conclude that the accident was their insureds fault.
Finally, all operators of motor vehicles involved in an accident must prepare and file with the Department of Motor Vehicles an MV104 form. This form is the motorists report of the accident and must be sent in within 10 days of the accident. MV104 forms are not necessary, however, if there are no personal injuries and the property damage is less than $1,000.00. It is important to prepare and send in the MV104 as failure to do so can result insuspension or revocation of your license or privilege to drive in New York State. Your insurance company should send you a copy of this form when you report the accident. The MV104 can be used against you in court so you should be very careful in completing it. Make sure it accurately conveys what occurred, and show it to your lawyer, if any, prior to filing. We suggest keeping your description of the accident as short and general as possible. For example, if you were hit the rear while stopped at a traffic light, just write “rear end collision”.