Car accidents can be scary, and they can happen to anyone. The average person will experience a crash once every 17.9 years, so it’s important to be prepared just in case. As they say, it’s always better to have the knowledge and not need it than need it and not have it.
For your safety and consideration, here’s a car accident checklist to go through if you ever get in a crash.
No matter how serious the accident is, you’re required by law to pull over your car. You never know what sort of damage could be done to your car, or if there was someone else involved, theirs.
The next step is to call 9-1-1. A witness may have already done this, but it doesn’t hurt to call yourself, especially if you can’t confirm a witness already did so. The police will be able to assess the situation, and medical assistance will be able to make sure you’re okay.
One of the worst things you can do after an accident is to get emotional. Your adrenaline will likely be pumping, and you’ll be a bit shaken up. You might even be mad at yourself or the other driver, and want to place blame.
Losing your cool at an accident is never a good look. Things will go much smoother and easier if you take deep breaths, remain calm, and try not to beat yourself up too much. The truth is it might not even have been your fault at all.
Avoid further issues for yourself and keep your cool, no matter how hard it is. If the other driver is angry, don’t get angry back. Be the mature one in the situation and take things one step at a time.
You’ll be happy you did in the end.
Many people make this mistake. Even if you think an accident was your fault, it’s important not to take the blame at the scene of the accident. Don’t tell the other driver involved, the police, or anyone else that it was your fault.
If you admit fault it can affect your insurance claim and defense going forward. Besides, a crash usually happens so fast it’s hard to determine what actually happened. You may think you’re at fault when you aren’t!
Let your insurance company, attorney, and the police decide what happened from the stories and evidence given. This will make the whole process going forward much less stressful.
Once emergency services arrive, it’s important to get yourself checked for injuries. The adrenaline caused by an accident can mask injuries, so it’s important to have a medical professional check you out.
The next step is checking the damage to your car. Take photographs of any damage sustained to it and the area of the accident. This will help the insurance company determine what it’ll take to get it fixed.
You should also take photos of any injuries you’ve sustained just in case it’s brought up. Do this yourself, or ask a friend or doctor to do it for you.
The more photos you take of damage to the car, surrounding signage, and yourself, the better. You’ll be asked to recall specifics of the accident, especially in cases that go to court. This is much easier with photographic evidence.
You’ll need the other driver’s insurance information, and they’ll need yours. Without doing this the insurance companies won’t be able to determine who’s paying for damages. Do this at the most convenient time, ideally after you’ve made sure nobody is hurt.
The state of New York requires you to file a police accident report if damages exceed $1,000, or if anyone was injured or killed in the accident. This must be filed within 10 days of the accident.
Usually, you can fill it right at the scene of the accident. Find a police officer and ask them about filing a report, and they’ll fill you in.
In New York, you’ll have to file an MV-104 report with the DMV if damages exceed $1,000, or if anyone was injured. It doesn’t take much to do $1,000 of damage to a car, so this is likely. The report must be filed within 10 days of the accident or you face a suspension of your license.
If the accident took place in a public area, it’s likely someone witnessed it. Most of the time a witness will stop and make sure everything is okay. You should always introduce yourself to the witness and gather any contact information they’re willing to give.
Witnesses often have angles of the accident others don’t. Assuming they weren’t in danger at the time, they probably saw what happened pretty clearly. They may also be deposed if the accident goes to court.
Ask the witnesses if they happen to have any videos or photos of the accident, or if their car has a dashcam. The more angles you get of the accident the better, so no witnesses should be skipped over. One could hold a crucial piece of evidence that takes the blame off of you completely!
Some car accidents will end up in court. In that case, you’re going to need an experienced lawyer.
There are a lot of car accidents in New York each year, meaning there are a lot of car accident attorneys in New York. These attorneys have experience dealing with car accidents and often offer free consultations. They’ll be able to take you through every step of the process and tell you how to proceed.
If you ever get into a car accident, just remember this car accident checklist. If you do everything above, you’ll get out on the other side simply and safely.
Car accidents happen to the best of us, so don’t panic. Just remember, it could always be worse!
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