Understand your rights if you’ve been injured in an accident
The steps you take after a serious car accident in Queens can make a dramatic difference in the outcome of your injury claim or legal case. Whether you’re dealing with a distracted driving accident on the Clearview Expressway (I-295), or a speeding accident caused by another driver on the Van Wyck Expressway (I-678), it’s important that you take certain steps to protect your rights and your health.
An experienced Queens car accident lawyer can help you understand this process. Below, you can learn more about many of the steps car accident injury victims should take if they’ve been involved in a crash caused by another driver.
Immediately after your accident:
Call the police
New York law requires drivers to contact the police and report all car accidents that result in a serious injury or fatality. When you call 911, the police dispatcher will send a law enforcement official to your accident. Depending on where your accident took place in Queens, a New York City Police Department (NYPD) officer or a state trooper from the nearest New York State Police barracks will likely respond to your accident.
Queens has 16 NYPD precincts, which range in number from the 100th NYPD Precinct at 9224 Rockaway Beach Boulevard in Queens to the 115th NYPD Precinct at 9215 Northern Boulevard (at 93rd St.) in Queens’ Jackson Heights neighborhood. A full list of all the Queens police precincts can be found on the New York Police Department’s website.
Ask for an ambulance if you or anyone else is seriously injured
If you or anyone else at your accident appears to have a serious injury, ask the police dispatcher to send an ambulance. Serious injuries require immediate medical attention. If necessary, the EMT who examines you might recommend additional immediate medical treatment at Mount Sinai Queens, Jamaica Hospital Medical Center, or another nearby hospital in Queens. What matters most is that you receive medical care right away if you have a serious injury.
Take pictures of your accident
If you can safely do so, take photos of your car accident scene. Ideally, you should take these pictures before you and the other driver move the vehicles. That way, you can capture images of exactly what your accident looked like when it happened. Along with the crash itself, take pictures of any traffic signs related to your accident, nearby landmarks, weather conditions (was it sunny or rainy?) and skid marks on the road caused by the crash. If there are no skid marks – especially for the other vehicle – take pictures of the road. Lack of skid marks is often an indication that the other driver did not attempt to slow down before crashing into your vehicle.
Talk to witnesses who saw your accident
If someone saw your accident, make sure you talk to them before they leave the scene. Get their full name and the best phone number to reach them at. Eyewitness statements about an accident can be powerful pieces of evidence, especially if there’s a dispute later about how your accident happened.
Get the other driver’s personal information
The other driver is required to give you their name, address, driver’s license number, insurance information, and phone number. That way, if you, your insurance company or your attorney need to reach them for any reason after your accident, they can do so.
Share the same information with the other driver
Along with getting the other driver’s personal information, you should share the same information about yourself with the other driver. If you do not feel safe doing so for any reason, simply wait for the police to arrive. They can then help you and the other driver safely exchange personal information after your accident.
Don’t discuss your accident with anyone
You might be tempted to discuss your accident with the other driver, fellow passengers, or anyone who saw your collision. Don’t do it. Anything you say – even something as simple as “I’m sorry” – could later be used by insurance companies to reduce or deny your injury claim. The best strategy is to say as little as possible and stick to the facts of what happened.
Contact a Queens car accident lawyer
The sooner you contact an attorney, the better. You can even do so if you’re still at the scene of your Queens car accident. Experienced lawyers know how to handle these situations and can give you advice on what to do next.
Soon after your accident:
Schedule a follow-up doctor’s appointment
If your accident happened several hours or days ago, make sure you have a medical professional examine you. This is true even if you have already been examined by an EMT or a doctor immediately after your accident. Many car accident injuries take time to develop, including whiplash, concussions, and other types of traumatic brain injuries (TBIs). Don’t take chances with your health. Get a doctor’s second opinion.
Follow your doctor’s instructions
Along with seeing a doctor soon after your accident, make sure you follow the doctor’s instructions. Whether it’s staying home to rest and recover, scheduling additional follow-up doctor’s appointments, or undergoing physical therapy, it’s important to follow a doctor’s instructions. This will ideally help you recover faster from your injury. In addition, if you don’t follow a doctor’s instructions, your injury claim may be denied. That’s because the insurance company responsible for paying for your accident might try to claim that you’re not actually injured due to your crash.
Contact your insurance company
Under New York law, you have 30 days to file a first-party claim with your own insurance company. New York has a “no-fault” insurance system. That means your insurance company is generally responsible for paying for your accident-related expenses first, regardless of who’s at fault.
If the other driver’s insurance company contacts you, don’t talk to them
After a serious car accident collision, it’s common for the other driver’s insurance company to contact you. Their questions might seem straightforward. However, don’t answer them or talk to them for any reason. In most cases, all they’re doing is looking for information they can use to reduce or deny your injury claim.
Even if the other driver was 100 percent at fault, the at-fault driver’s insurance company will often try to gather information from you to prove that you were somehow at fault. And if they’re successful, this means you’ll receive less money for your accident claim.
This is because New York has a “pure” comparative negligence insurance system. Under this system, the amount of money you receive is reduced by how much you are at fault. For example, if your injury claim is worth $100,000 and you are 30 percent at fault, you would receive 30 percent less or $70,000 total.
Don’t post anything on social media about your accident
Anything you say or write publicly about your accident could be used as evidence to deny your injury claim. Insurance companies carefully monitor what people post about their accidents on social media. Don’t give them any excuse to deny your injury claim.
Obtain a copy of your accident report
When an NYPD officer or New York State Police trooper responds to a serious car accident, they must fill out a New York Motor Vehicle Collision report. Make sure you get a copy of your accident report and carefully review it. Any mistakes or inconsistencies could jeopardize your injury claim. If you need help getting a copy of your official New York Police Accident Report, contact one of the Queens car accident attorneys listed on this website. They can obtain a copy of your accident report on your behalf.
Contact a Queens car accident lawyer
If you have not already done so, contact an attorney right away after your Queens car accident. There are so many legal issues that can come up after a serious accident. And in each case, an experienced lawyer can help you address such important issues.
You only have one opportunity to obtain all the money you deserve for all your accident-related expenses. This includes past, present, and future anticipated expenses related to your accident. Insurance companies know this. That’s why they do everything they can to pay you as little as possible.
An experienced Queens car accident attorney can take on insurance companies and demand the money you rightfully deserve. Whether it’s negotiating the best possible settlement offer or fighting for your rights in court if you file a lawsuit, your lawyer can make sure your accident gets the attention it deserves.