In a heavily populated state like New York, you expect that the number of car accidents will be high; however, you may not realize the severity of the problem until you review statistics on traffic crashes in New York. There are more than 447,000 total crashes in an average year, leading to almost 950 deaths and injuring another 167,000 people. As you can imagine, the chaos and confusion after an auto collision can be overwhelming. You may be hurting, bleeding, and worrying about the safety of other vehicle occupants. Under the circumstances, you can see the potential for making mistakes in the immediate aftermath of a car accident.
Unfortunately, some of these errors can impact your health and your legal rights. Your bewilderment notwithstanding, it is critical to avoid blunders until you can retain a New York car accident attorney to advocate on your behalf. Since you may not realize how your words and actions can affect your interests, read on for information on the mistakes to avoid after being injured in a New York auto crash.
Mistake #1. Leaving the Scene: In any collision involving injuries or fatalities, you are required to immediately notify police and remain at the scene until they arrive. You must also exchange contact and insurance information with all involved drivers. It is a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail to leave the scene of an injury-causing auto crash, but felony charges apply if you flee after a fatal car accident. You could be imprisoned for up to seven years for a conviction.
Mistake #2. Not Getting Proper Medical Care: Depending on the nature of your injuries, you should head directly to the emergency room or urgent care facility for medical treatment. Prompt care ensures that you obtain a diagnosis and get on the road to recovery quickly. Plus, seeing a health care provider immediately after an accident protects your legal rights. Delays tell an insurance company or jury that your injuries were not severe.
Mistake #3. Discussing Who Was at Fault: As you are exchanging information with other drivers, avoid any talk about fault or factors that may have contributed to the auto crash. You may unintentionally admit that you were responsible or make statements that could harm your interests. Under New York’s contributory negligence law, your compensation is reduced if you were partly to blame.
Mistake #4: Failing to Gather Information at the Scene: While your abilities may be hampered by your injuries, do your best to collect key evidence while still at the scene of a motor vehicle crash. Grab your cell phone and capture images of:
- The intersection or stretch of road
- Damage to vehicles
- Traffic signals or signage
- Any other relevant physical characteristics
Mistake #5: Misunderstanding the Statute of Limitations: You may know that New York has a three year statute of limitations, which imposes a deadline on filing a lawsuit in court. If you do not initiate litigation in this time period, you may recover nothing for your losses. The biggest mistake is not realizing that discussions with an insurance company stop the clock: They do NOT, so you have three years from the date of the crash to sue.
Mistake #6. Waiting to Schedule a Consultation with a New York Car Accident Lawyer
After reviewing the errors above, you can see that the best way to avoid additional mistakes is to work with knowledgeable legal counsel if you were hurt in a vehicle collision. To learn how we can support your claim, please contact The Mandel Law Firm at (646) 770-3868 or via our website. We can schedule a no-cost consultation to review your circumstances at our offices in Manhattan.