Let’s face it: car accidents are scary, regardless of how minor they are. A million things run through your head upon impact, such as: am I hurt? Is the other driver hurt? How am I going to afford this? Most importantly though, you’re probably wondering what to do after a car accident that is not your fault. In this blog, the legal team at Bailey, Johnson & Peck walks you through the exact steps you need to take following a car crash.
Each personal injury lawyer at our Albany law firm is well-versed in personal injury law. So if you or someone you love suffers life-threatening injuries from a crash and you’re not sure if your car insurance company will cover it, we’ll step in. We provide the strongest legal representation in New York for personal injury victims. Call us today at 518-465-0082 for a free case evaluation.
What To Do After a Car Accident That is Not Your Fault
If you’ve been in a car crash before, you know how scary it is even if you weren’t injured. The adrenaline coursing through your body after an accident makes it difficult to think clearly. You feel so shaken up that you have no idea what to do next. If you ever find yourself in a car accident that wasn’t your fault, it’s important to protect yourself first.
First thing’s first: call 911 immediately, even if the crash is a minor fender bender and you think that you’re not injured. Sometimes, crash victims don’t know that they’ve suffered severe injuries until the effects of adrenaline have worn off. The fight or flight response in the body is designed to save your life, and in doing so, it can hide your pain and injuries until you calm down.
When you call 911, both paramedics and the police will arrive on the scene. When the police arrive, they will determine who the negligent driver is and include it in their official police report. This accident report will serve as a crucial piece of information for your insurance claim and, if necessary, your lawsuit against the other driver.
Stay at the Accident Scene and Collect Evidence
Next: don’t leave the accident scene or you could be charged with a hit and run. Instead, stay on the scene and collect evidence. Ask the at-fault driver for their:
- Phone number
- Insurance company and insurance policy number
If there are witnesses on the scene, ask for their names and contact information too. Lastly, take pictures of the accident scene. Make sure to get plenty of pictures of your car damage, your injuries (if any), the street where the crash happened, and any other relevant information. When you get into a car accident that’s not your fault, it’s crucial to arm yourself with as much evidence as possible.
Document the Crash in Writing
If you’ve only sustained minor injuries or no injuries at all from the accident, you can go home that same day. When you get home, make sure to write down exactly how the accident happened. Our memory is incredibly unreliable and can change over time. It’s important to document the experience for the sake of evidence while the details are still fresh in your mind.
Call Your Insurance Company
The next thing you should do is contact your own insurance company and let them know that you got into a car accident that wasn’t your fault. In most cases, you don’t need to call the other driver’s insurance company unless it’s clear that they lied about being at fault.
Report Your Crash to the DMV
In New York, accident victims must report their crash to the DMV within 10 days, especially if the crash racked up more than $1,000 in property damage. If you don’t do this, your driver’s license could get suspended.
Contact a Personal Injury Attorney at Bailey, Johnson & Peck
If it’s clear that the other driver is lying to their insurance company about what really happened or they’re refusing to talk to their insurance company about the accident altogether, you need to hire a New York car accident attorney at Bailey, Johnson & Peck. They will do all the talking for you so that you can receive the settlement offer you deserve.
Additionally, if you’ve suffered major car accident injuries due to the at-fault party, it’s important to file a personal injury claim. That’s because your own insurance policy, or the at-fault driver’s insurer, may not be able to cover thousands of dollars in medical expenses, lost wages, property damage, etc. Sometimes, filing a claim is the only way to recover appropriate compensation.
Is New York a No-Fault State?
Yes, New York is a no-fault state. This means that you have to file an insurance claim with your own personal injury protection. In most cases, you will collect appropriate compensation for your medical bills and other damages resulting from the accident, regardless of if you were at fault. According to New York’s DMV, every driver must have the minimum insurance coverage listed below.
- $10,000 for property damage
- $25,000 for the bodily injury of 1 person
- $50,000 for the death of 1 person
- $50,000 for the bodily injury of 2 people
- $100,000 for the death of 2 people
Can I File a Personal Injury Lawsuit if I Live in a No-Fault State?
In no-fault states, you can only file a lawsuit against the negligent driver if you’ve suffered serious injuries that a no-fault claim can’t cover. The serious injuries threshold in New York is $50,000. In other words, if the cost of your bodily injuries exceeds $50,000, you should contact a personal injury lawyer and file a lawsuit.
Additionally, New York Insurance Laws Section 5102(D) defines a serious injury as one that results in:
- Loss of a fetus
- Permanent loss of function of a bodily organ or system
- Permanent disfigurement or scarring
- Any non-permanent injury that prevents a person from accomplishing their normal, day-to-day tasks for 90 to 180 days
- Wrongful death
In severe car crashes like this, a personal injury lawyer can help you recover non-economic damages like emotional distress and pain and suffering.
Pure Comparative Fault Rule in New York
New York also follows the pure comparative fault rule when it comes to car accident compensation. This rule mostly comes into play when both drivers share a percentage of fault in the crash. So let’s say that the jury thinks $100,000 is an appropriate amount of money to cover your damages. If the jury also finds that you share 10% of the blame in the accident while the other driver shares 90% of the blame, you would receive $90,000 in damages.
New York Statute of Limitations for Car Accidents
In New York, injury victims have three years from the date of their accident to file a personal injury lawsuit if they want to. If you wait longer than three years to file your lawsuit, the court will likely dismiss your case.
Call a Personal Injury Attorney at Bailey, Johnson & Peck Today
If you’ve suffered injuries that are too severe for an auto insurance company to cover, you need to call a legal professional at Bailey, Johnson & Peck. Not only do we have extensive experience in making sure that car insurance companies offer victims a fair settlement, but we also have extensive experience in defending car accident victims in court. When you hire us, we’ll make sure to walk with you through every step of the legal process. Call our Albany law firm at 518-456-0082 to get started on your attorney-client relationship today.