4 mistakes New Yorkers should avoid after an auto accident

Every year, thousands of people in White Plains and other parts of New York are involved in car accidents, many of which have serious consequences. According to the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles, in 2013, over 300,000 crashes occurred statewide, including 124,505 severe car accidents that left people injured. Since some crashes are never reported, the overall number of accidents that occur annually may be even higher.

Surviving an accident may be a first-time experience for many of the drivers who are involved in these traumatic incidents each year. Unfortunately, the novelty and shock of this experience can cause many people to make harmful mistakes afterward. To protect their rights and interests after an accident, motorists in New York should be careful to avoid the following common missteps.

1. Failing to exchange information

According to the NYSDMV, state law requires drivers to stop and exchange information with other parties any time that they are involved in an accident. Drivers should collect the following information:

  • Personal information, including name, address and phone number
  • Vehicle information, including the make, model and VIN
  • Insurance information, including the insurance provider and policy number

Drivers may need this information to file a police report, which is mandatory in any accident that causes injury, death or at least $1,001 of property damage. Drivers will also need this information if they make any insurance claims later. Even in accidents involving uninsured motorists, drivers should collect as much information as possible, as they may need it to file claims against their own insurance policies.

2. Leaving without evidence

After a serious accident, drivers should also consider collecting evidence that may later help show how the accident occurred or prove that a particular party was at fault. Drivers should photograph the damage to each vehicle and any other visual indications of the accident, such as tread marks. If other people witnessed the accident, drivers should collect their contact information. Drivers may also benefit from recording their recollections of the incident while the memory is still fresh.

3. Denying potential injuries

Many common car accident injuries may not be apparent immediately. KTAR News notes that whiplash, brain trauma and internal bleeding may not be diagnosed until hours or days after an accident occurs. Symptoms of psychological injuries, such as posttraumatic stress disorder, may take even longer to manifest. Consequently, drivers should refrain from making statements about their health immediately after an accident to other involved parties or to insurance providers.

4. Forgoing legal advice

Even after serious accidents, many drivers may think that they lack grounds for seeking legal recourse or that they can secure an adequate settlement by working with an insurance company. However, drivers who make binding decisions without fully understanding their legal rights may not receive adequate recompense for their injuries and other damages. Therefore, accident victims may benefit from reviewing their situation and options with an attorney as early as possible after the accident.