In order to protect yourself legally, take these steps immediately after a car accident:

  • Contact the police. It is very important that you call the police immediately. The police will file an accident report. The damages to yourself and your car may be more serious than it seems. It is important to have an official record of the accident.
  • Do not move your car until the police tell you to. Unless the accident is blocking traffic and must be moved, wait until the police arrive on the scene. If you do have to move your car, take pictures before you do — leaving a disposable camera in your car is a great way to be prepared should an accident occur. A cell phone camera will also work.
  • Get the names of any witnesses. You never know if the accident may lead to legal action, so it is important to document everything you can. Get the names, addresses and phone numbers of any potential witnesses before they leave the scene.
  • Collect insurance information. Write down the other party’s insurance information, including the insurance company’s name and policy number. Be sure to take down the other driver’s name. Note where the accident took place. And, take pictures of both vehicles.
  • Do not admit responsibility. Only discuss the accident with the police, and even then, never admit fault — even if you think you were to blame, because you could be wrong. Admitting fault will be used against you by the insurance company.
  • Seek medical attention. While you may think that you are not hurt, some injuries are not always immediately noticeable. Keep a record of everything the doctor tells you — your diagnosis, prescribed treatment and any concerns the doctor may have. Be sure to get copies of any papers the doctor has.
  • Notify your insurance carrier. As a no-fault insurance state, insurance providers in New York will cover the costs of initial medical treatment.
  • Follow through with what your doctor says. If your doctor prescribes medication, take it. If he or she recommends physical therapy, make an appointment — and keep it. Do everything your doctor tells you and be sure to follow up with him or her.

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