What Should I Do If I Have A Car Accident? Take The Following Steps.
If you have been in a car accident, it can be confusing to know what you should do in the aftermath. The following steps can help ensure that your legal interests are protected and can enable you to hold the other driver accountable if negligence contributed to the accident. Above all, you should seek legal advice as soon as possible. To schedule a consultation with the attorneys at Black, Lyle & Habberfield, LLP, call 716-301-4201.
Make Sure That The Police Are Called To The Scene
Even if you do not believe that you are injured or it is “clear” whose fault it is, it is always best to have the police come to the scene and prepare an accident report. Under New York and Pennsylvania law, the police must be contacted whenever the crash results in personal injury or death; further, in Pennsylvania, whenever a vehicle is so damaged, it must be towed. You will find it much easier to get any property damage claim resolved with the assistance of the police accident report, and any statements by the other driver can be preserved in the report.
Do Not Admit That The Accident Was Your Fault
Even though you believe that you may have been at fault for the accident, in the shock of the moment, there may be details you have overlooked. Perhaps the other driver was drinking or speeding, or his brake lights were not working at the time of the crash. Any admission that you make will later be used against you.
Ask The Officer For The Other Driver’s Name And Insurance Company
By law, the other driver must give this information to the investigating officer, and it can save you time and trouble. Also, ask the officer for his name and which police department he is with. Many officers will also give you a number to allow you to obtain the accident report, which will be necessary when you present your claim to the insurance companies.
Immediately Report The Accident To Your Own Insurance Company
Even if the accident was not your fault, the failure to notify your own insurance company within a reasonable amount of time can result in a loss of your rights. Your insurance company can also assist you in finding out information about the other driver’s insurance.
Do Not Give Any Written Or Recorded Statements To Any Insurance Company
You do have a duty to report the accident to your own insurance company and explain what happened, but it is better to have your attorney review any documents before they are signed and also better to have an attorney present for any recorded statement to ensure that the questions are fair and that the information is accurately transcribed.
Complete The First-Party Benefits Or No-Fault Application
Shortly after reporting the accident, you should receive an application for first-party benefits or no-fault application. This is often a long, legal-sized yellow or pink form asking a great deal of information about the accident and any injuries that you suffered. This form must be returned to the insurance company within 30 days of the accident. None of your medical bills, incidental expenses or lost wages will be paid until you complete the application, and your doctor and employer complete their portions. Again, it is best to have an attorney review this document prior to filling it out as it is critical that it is filled out correctly to enable you to get all of your benefits.
In New York, Complete The MV-104 Form
If you are involved in a motor vehicle accident in New York, you will receive a letter from the Department of Transportation enclosing a form to be filled out. This form called an MV-104 must be completed and submitted to the Department of Transportation shortly after the accident or your driving privileges in New York can be suspended. An attorney can assist you in getting it completed and ensuring that it is accurate.
Inform Your Medical Care Provider
Every time you see a medical care provider make sure that you inform them that this is a result of a motor vehicle accident and give them your claim number and insurance company name. If you fail to do so, then it is possible that your bills will not be submitted to the proper insurance company. This can cause a delay in getting the bills paid and create a real hassle down the road. When you report your accident to your insurance company they should give you a claim number for this use.
Do Not Sign A Release Of Your Claim
Once you sign a general release, you are forever barred from recovering for any injuries you have suffered in an accident. Even if you later learn that your injuries are much more serious, you cannot recover any additional money if you have signed a general release. Even if the other driver’s insurance company is offering you the entire policy limits, it may be possible that there is additional insurance that you are entitled to. By signing a release, you may lose all rights you have to recover under these other policies. At Black, Lyle & Habberfield, LLP, we would be happy to review any release prior to your signature and at no charge.
Your Final Step Should Be To Contact Us To Discuss Your Case
If you or a loved one has been hurt in an automobile accident, you may be entitled to financial compensation. Schedule an initial consultation with our lawyers by calling 716-301-4201. You may also contact us online. Located in Olean, we provide representation to clients throughout New York and Pennsylvania.