Fender Bender Victim in New York? Here’s the Scoop:
No one wakes up on a lovely New York morning (or evening, if you work nights) planning to get into a car accident. Few people even have a contingency plan if an accident should occur, because that is usually the furthest thing from our minds! Yet as we sit in the midst of a collision in which we were involved, the first thing we think is “Why didn’t I see this coming?”
Try to remain calm! The most important thing to remember -the one thing that will help you through the rest of what you need to know and do- is that you are not alone. You are not the first person to have an auto accident, and you won’t be the last. Everything always seems far worse than it really is at first, and even if it IS as bad as it seems, the only way you can take care of everything is if you keep your wits about you. We think we can help!
First, the Basic Laws of Auto Accidents in NY
If you’ve been seriously injured, you should always contact car accident lawyers. One major thing you must know about vehicles in NY is insurance. While auto insurance is mandatory in most of the 50 states, New York requires motorists to carry liability insurance equaling no LESS than $85,000 (including damages to possessions/assets, loss-of-life, and physical damage personally incurred or caused to another person). This covers your behind in case the person with whom you crashed is from another state and not insured as NY requires, or worse still, not insured at all. Most accidents must also be reported to the Department of Motor Vehicles in New York, unless it was just a slight fender-bender in which no one was hurt and no person’s or entity’s belongings were destroyed.
The rest of the law regarding vehicle accidents in New York is nothing extraordinary. If you are involved in an auto accident, you must notify the local authorities (especially if an accident-related death occurs), exchange insurance information, call for medical attention if any party sustains injuries, etc. Be sure to receive any medical attention within 24 hours of the accident (although immediately afterward is often preferred), or your injuries may not be linked beyond reasonable doubt to the collision, and you will be stuck paying any doctor bills yourself.
Once the proverbial smoke has cleared, and you’re ready to proceed to the next phase of post-collision events, don’t be afraid to ask professionals for assistance, and feel free to do your own homework! You can never know too much about the laws, regulations, and processes of auto accidents. When in doubt, don’t worry and stress yourself into a frenzy. Call someone who can help! Local law enforcement offices can point you in the right direction if you’ re a little lost (be sure to call the department line, NOT 911)! Different guidelines may apply, depending on the type of accident in which you were involved, so be sure you comply accordingly!
They Wrecked My Parked Car!
Sometimes, people accidentally bump our cars while trying to squeeze in a space nearby. Don’t call for a lynch mob! First, see if the person responsible is still at the scene. If not, take a minute to collect yourself (and make a note to gather the pitchforks and torches later), and then report the damage to the authorities. Gather any information your insurance company may need (such as witness reports, if you have any, pictures of the damage, a copy of the police report you personally filed, etc.) and notify them as soon as possible. These steps are critical to keep you from breaking your own bank on repairs that aren’t your fault!
Does Hitting a Pedestrian Mean Prison in Queens, NY?
The short answer is “not necessarily.” Accidents do happen, and if you follow New York law to the letter (and you weren’t under the influence of alcohol or illegal drugs at the time of the crash), then you can usually avoid jail time. Remember, sometimes people dash across a busy street without abiding by crosswalk lights or ensuring that they’re clear to cross. While these accidents are no less traumatic for everyone involved, it means that the motorist is not solely responsible for the collision, and therefore will not be punished or fined as such.
In these types of accidents, objective witness statements (meaning statements from strangers or people who do not know the motorist or the pedestrian personally) are often key in determining fault. Traffic cams and security cameras from nearby businesses can also play a role in proving exactly what happened at the scene. The important thing is to stick to New York law and report everything to the proper entities as required. Even if you are at fault, the more by-the-book you proceed, the less severe the consequences will be.
But I Wasn’t the One Driving My Car!
Some states are more lenient on vehicle owners who must lend their cars to relatives or business partners for whatever reason. They will allow the person driving to file a claim on their own car insurance (if the motorist has full coverage, which protects them in any vehicle they are driving) and do not cite the owner of the wrecked vehicle as the responsible party in the crash. New York is NOT one of those laxer states.
It doesn’t matter if your mother is driving you to the emergency room, if you’re flooded with work and need a business partner or employee to make a bank run for you, or your dog got his or her license and took the convertible for a spin. If it is YOUR car, registered in YOUR name, and insured on YOUR policy, YOU will be held wholly at fault. Your liability insurance should still cover damages, but they are likely to pay out on the other party involved in the crash first.
If you are involved in an auto accident in NY, be responsible. Make your reports, render aid at the scene, stay until the authorities clear you to leave, and cooperate to the fullest. Above all, do your homework, and stay clear-headed!