What To Do After a Car Accident

after-an-accidentIf you’re involved in a car accident in the Bronx, you may be shaken up and even injured. In the immediate aftermath of a crash, it can be challenging to make sure you’re taking the right steps to protect your rights.

Understanding the correct actions now — before you’re in a crash — can help you keep your wits about you and get the information you need if you are involved in an accident.

Report the Accident to  Authorities

The City of New York Police Department advises that you call 911 any time there is an emergency situation, including in cases of serious injuries or someone’s life being in danger.

State law in New York stipulates that motorists report accidents, but the requirements differ based on whether an accident involves personal injury or property damage only. For any accident that results in injuries, the driver of the car that caused the injuries is required to report the accident as soon as possible.

The New York Department of Motor Vehicles notes that the New York State Vehicle and Traffic Law requires immediate reporting to local police if anyone is injured or killed in a traffic accident. Leaving the scene of a vehicle crash that causes death or personal injury is illegal.

In accidents that must be reported, drivers also are required to submit an accident report to the closest judicial officer or police station as soon as they are physically able to do so. In addition, the police and all drivers involved in the accident are required to file an accident report with DMV.

For accidents that involve only damage to a vehicle or other property — but no injuries to people — the requirements are as follows:

  • If an unoccupied vehicle is damaged or if a domestic animal is hurt, the driver who caused the accident must locate the owner of the property or report the incident to police.
  • If the property damage is valued at $1,001 or more, all drivers involved in the incident must file a form with the DMV within 10 days of the accident.
  • Failing to properly report an accident to the DMV can result in suspension of your driver’s license.

Know the Penalties for Failure to Report an Accident

Serious penalties also are possible under New York law for failing to report certain types of accidents. Not following the reporting requirements for an accident involving personal injury is categorized as a Class A misdemeanor and can result in a fine between $500 and $1,000, as much as a year in jail, or both.

Failure to immediately report an accident that involves a serious injury is considered a Class E felony, which can result in a fine between $1,000 and $2,500, as much as four years in jail, or both.

Exchange Information

In any vehicle accident in New York, you’re required to exchange information with the other drivers. If the accident results only in property damage to one or more occupied vehicles, you should provide the other involved drivers with:

If the accident causes damage to a parked vehicle or injures a domestic animal, again, the law requires that you inform the owner or report the incident to police.

Report the Accident to Your Insurer

State law doesn’t stipulate that you must report an accident to your insurance company, but it’s a good idea to do so to ensure that you comply with your policy requirements.

Standard auto insurance contracts require that you report an accident within a reasonable time period, or the insurer may deny your claim for coverage of the accident. Even if the accident was not serious enough to trigger the state’s reporting requirements, you should alert your insurance carrier in case you need the coverage.

Get a Copy of Your Accident Report

To receive a copy of the collision report from NYPD, you’ll need to fill out the correct form; you can either mail it in or go in person to the precinct where the accident occurred. After 30 days, you’ll need to request the report from the DMV.

Understand Your Driving Record

Accidents in New York show up on the driving records of all the drivers involved. The listing does not mean that you were at fault in the accident; in fact, DMV doesn’t attempt to determine who is at fault.

If you’re involved in three or more accidents that the state considers reportable — including those that cause a fatality, personal injury or damage over $1,000 — within 18 months, you’ll receive a letter asking you to visit a DMV office for an interview. You also may be asked to take a written test, a road test and a vision test. Your identification and possible testing is part of the state’s Accident Re-examination Program.

Contact an Experienced Car Accident Attorney

If you’re involved in any vehicle accident in the Bronx — regardless of injuries — it’s important to work with an experienced car accident attorney. Reporting the accident often is only the first step, especially if you or a loved one were injured or if another driver claims the accident was your fault. For a free consultation with a Bronx car accident attorney, contact The Law Offices of Ivan M. Diamond.