A “fender bender” can be a jarring experience. Even a relatively low-speed impact can seriously injure vehicle occupants. While some people may use the term “fender bender” to describe a car accident that causes little observable property damage, whether a car has significant property damage and whether its occupants are severely injured are two separate questions.
What are some things to consider if you are involved in a car accident?
FIND A SAFE PLACE AND SEE WHO’S INJURED
After collecting your thoughts, make sure you and other passengers are in a safe place to assess the situation. Call 911 if anyone is hurt or there is another emergency. New York law imposes a legal duty to report motor vehicle accidents under certain circumstances.
It is generally advisable to exchange insurance information with all involved motorists. This information can be used to make any necessary insurance claims, so, if feasible under the circumstances, it generally makes sense to obtain that information as soon as possible.
GATHER EVIDENCE AND DOCUMENT THE SCENE
If possible, take photographs of the damage to both cars and the surrounding area. This can be used as evidence later on should you decide to pursue a personal injury claim against at-fault drivers.
CALL YOUR INSURANCE COMPANY
After a New York car accident, a lot of insurance companies can get involved. That is because New York is a no-fault state, meaning that, paradoxically, your own insurance company may pay for certain damages caused by another. In addition, if the at-fault driver does not carry sufficient insurance, or no insurance at all, your insurance company may be able to step in and help. An experienced attorney can identify the relevant insurance companies and ensure they receive timely notice. When you call your insurance company, you may be asked to provide certain information, including:
- Your policy number, name, and address
- The other driver’s information
- The date, time, and location of the accident
- A brief description of what happened
- A description of the damage to both cars
- Witnesses’ names and contact information, if available
HOW AN ATTORNEY CAN HELP
An attorney can help you file a claim against the other driver and negotiate with the insurance company. An attorney can also represent you in court if the case does not settle. An experienced attorney can help you seek compensation for:
MEDICAL BILLS AND LOST WAGES
While in most cases certain medical bills and lost wages should be covered by the appropriate no-fault insurance company, other damages may exceed what is called “basic economic loss” such that you can seek reimbursement from the at-fault motorist.
PAIN AND SUFFERING
An attorney can help you get compensation for past and future pain and suffering, which will allow you to, in a sense, be made “whole” for all the anguish, anxiety, loss of enjoyment of life and emotional distress suffered because of the accident.