What to Do if you are Involved in a New York Car Accident


There are approximately 11 million car accidents each year in the United States.  Some of these accidents can be minor and result in little if any property damage or personal injuries.  However, some accidents can result in serious personal injuries, such as spinal injuries or traumatic brain injuries, and even death.  Even low-speed accidents can result in serious injuries comparable to high-speed collisions.

In New York car accidents, there are certain steps you need to take.  Your first priority should always be your health and safety.  Your next priority should be doing what it takes to preserve your rights and remedies under the law.

Injuries or Possible Injuries

If there are any injuries at the scene of the accident, an ambulance should be called immediately.  Even if the injuries do not appear to be serious, always have a trained first responder to evaluate a victim to ensure there is not a larger and undetected injury.  Even low-speed collisions can produce injuries—particularly soft tissue injuries—which are difficult to detect.  This is not the time to play hero or delay seeking treatment; get help immediately.  Failing to do so can put both your health and ability to effectively pursue a personal injury claim you may wish to bring to seek compensation for your personal injuries.

Police Intervention

As a rule of thumb, the police should always be called to the scene of an accident—even minor collisions.  This is because even if you do not think you are injured, some injuries—such as soft-tissue injuries—take time to manifest themselves.  Resist the urge to settle this matter with the other driver(s) on the road.  If the other driver is attempting to offer you money or to just go through your respective insurance companies, there may be a larger issue here.  If there is no accident report, attempting to file a claim later with your insurance company or to file a personal injury claim will be significantly more difficult.

If you believe that the other driver may be under the influence of a narcotic or alcohol, make sure to politely suggest to the office to investigate such claim.  Also pay attention for other suspicious activity, such as the driver and a passenger switching places or changing clothing.

Any injuries should also be noted to the responding police officer(s); don’t be a hero and make sure to list everything.  If there are witnesses present at the scene, as them to stay to make a statement to police.  If the witness is not cooperative or cannot stay at the scene, get his or her contact information or write down his or her license plate so authorities can make contact later.  Make sure that an accident report is generated and gather the report number and officer’s name and badge number. 

Exchange Information with Other Parties

This is easier to do when the police are present, and some officers may even do it for you.  But ensure that you receive the names, addresses, and contact information of all drivers and passengers involved in the motor vehicle accident.  Make sure to also pay particular attention to the driver of the vehicle(s), who the owner of the vehicle is, and who the insurance policy is issued to. 

However, do not sign any statements, reports, or other documents at the scene.  Even if police are requesting that you do so, just politely state that you are still a little affected by the accident and want additional time to digest what just happened. 

Draft your Own Accident Narrative

As soon as possible after the accident, make sure to write down as many details of the accident as you can remember.  Note particular details such as date, time, location, roadway condition, position of the sun, weather conditions, traffic patterns, description of the driver, description of the passenger(s), description of any witnesses, estimated speed of your vehicle and the other vehicle, color of the traffic light, signage at the scene of the accident, any roadway markers, any landmarks (i.e. mail boxes), and position of the motor vehicles after the accident.

Make sure to write “drafted in contemplation of possible litigation” at the top of your narrative.  If you already have a retained attorney, write “attorney work product material” at the top of this narrative.

Reporting the accident to the DMC and your Insurance Company

Accidents must be reported to the Commissioner of Motor Vehicles within 10 days if there has been property damage over $1,000 or personal injuries to any person.  In addition, make sure you insurance company is immediately contacted. Provide the essential information, such as parties, location, injuries, damage, and accident report, but don’t provide any specific details regarding the accident other than a board synopsis (i.e. it was a read-end collision).

No-Fault Insurance Benefits

Your own insurance policy will cover you under New York’s No-Fault insurance law.  It will provide medical and wage lost benefits, as well as pay for damage to your vehicle.  This must be done within 30 days of the accident and not delayed.  For more on No-Fault benefits, click this link.

There are many issues which may arise in Hudson car accidents that require the review of an experienced car accident attorney.  Our attorneys at Greenberg and Greenberg handle cases throughout New York State, including Columbia, Greene, Rensselaer, and Albany County.  Our legal team has earned a reputation for dedicated service to our clients injured in New York personal injury accidents.  Please contact us today to receive a free case evaluation by dialing locally to 518-828-3336 or call toll free at 877-469-9300.