Every year, thousands of motorists and passengers across the United States experience car accidents. While modern safety features mean many accidents are injury-free for those involved, there are still tens of thousands of accident related injuries and deaths every year. While accidents are incredibly common overall, the size of the national population is such that it is still fairly unlikely that any one driver will be in an accident during a given year. That means that often, when you are in an accident, it is difficult to remember what you should do.
When you first get into the accident, make sure you assess yourself and any passengers in your vehicle for possible injuries before trying to move too much. If it is safe to exit your vehicle, doing so can make you more visible and allow you to see if there is anyone coming for help. If not, remaining in your vehicle and calling 911 to report the accident is best, and either way, someone will need to call them.
Before you get out of your vehicle after an accident, be aware of possible dangers:
- Traffic (especially on the freeway)
- Vehicular hazards (such as smoke or fire)
- Environmental hazards such as damaged buildings or other damaged vehicles
If you are not already injured, these hazards can still cause injuries before the accident situation is resolved.
The next step is to exchange information with the other driver and to gather as much information about the accident as possible. Taking photographs of the scene and of any injuries you sustained will help. The idea is to make sure that you have as much documentation to support your account of the accident as possible, because after fixing vehicles and seeing to injuries, it can be difficult to prove exactly what damage the accident itself caused.
File an accident report
Make sure that you also file a report with police or designated first responders that work with them, because logging an official account of the events leading up to the accident and the event itself is an important step toward resolving questions of liability down the road.
Know your coverage and seek advice
Last but not least, it is important to understand what your insurance covers, so you know which repairs you might be partially responsible for when all is said and done. It is also important to seek advice about the accident so that you understand any legal liability you might have under New York law. That way, you will be better prepared to deal with the aftermath of the accident and the resolution of any medical complications or repairs you need.