I’ve Been Injured in a Car Accident, What Do I Do?

If you’re reading this, you’ve probably left the scene of the accident already. Ideally, you would have taken detailed notes, as well as photos of the damage and any injuries sustained. You would’ve exchanged information with the other driver and collected contact information from any witnesses. You would’ve filed a police report and kept a copy. You may be reading this from at home or from a hospital room. Either way, the aftermath of a car crash can be a confusing time.

A seriously injured motorist or a passenger is not just wondering what to do immediately after an accident, but what to do to maximize a personal injury lawsuit. The New York City car accident lawyers of Douglas and London can provide you with more specific expert advice during a free, no-obligation consultation, but here are some of the steps you can take while working with us.

Notify your insurer and the state DMV but avoid the other motorist’s insurance company. 

State law requires you to report any motor vehicle accident involving injuries or more than $1,000 in property damage to the NYS DMV within two weeks of the crash. Your auto insurance policy likely includes a similar stipulation on reporting accidents, as well. Even though it feels like the whole world has stopped, you can’t afford to put your head in the sand—if you want to be able to drive a car in the future.  

You are, however, under no obligation to share details of the crash with the other driver’s insurance company. It’s okay to state, “I will provide that information at a later date. The accident is still under investigation.” When you work with a personal injury lawyer, all dealings with insurers will go through the law firm, so you don’t have to worry about incriminating yourself. Something as simple as telling an insurance agent you’re “doing fine” could reduce or bar you from recovering money in a settlement.

See a medical professional and keep all appointments.

Sometimes your injuries are obvious, and you’re taken from the accident scene on a stretcher. Other times, you may go home and debate whether you are hurt enough to justify a trip to the doctor. Here are some of the common symptoms you may encounter that signal a worse injury than you may imagine:

  • Head pain – Headaches days after a collision can indicate brain blood clots, neck injury, or a concussion.
  • Soft tissue damage – You may not think an impact sustained at 14 miles per hour could result in much damage, but that’s all it takes for neck and shoulder pain to be considered “whiplash,” a soft tissue injury that could result in a need for several months of physical therapy and medical bills exceeding $30,000.
  • Spine injury – Lower back pain or a loss of feeling in the extremities could signify damage to the spinal cord, muscles, ligaments, or nerves.
  • Internal bleeding – Abdominal pain and swelling may be a sign of internal bleeding, which could be life-threatening without emergency medical intervention.
  • Brain damage – Changes in physical function or personality may indicate a brain injury. Further, the loss of control while driving can be particularly scary, and many car accident victims experience some degree of PTSD following a severe crash.

Even if you think you might be fine, it’s always best to see a doctor immediately after a crash. This simple move shows you are serious about your health, and it documents any problems. Do maintain all follow-up appointments, so the other motorist cannot dispute the nature of your injuries and claim you “must have been fine” for skipping a scheduled meeting with your medical care provider.     

Organize your documents in one place.

Keep a tabbed folder with all of your accident paperwork in one place. In one section, you could keep your most recent pay stubs and work schedule, along with a pocket calendar showing the time you took off work. In another section, you could keep your medical visit summaries, prescription drug receipts, hospital bills, and other medical records.

Marking a calendar with your medical appointments is helpful for future reference, as well. A third section might contain a copy of the police report, photos of your immediate acute injuries and property damage, eyewitness contact information, and a written recollection of the moments preceding the accident. A fourth section should contain any correspondence with the insurance companies. We also recommend maintaining a daily “pain symptom” log.    

Call a personal injury lawyer for a free consultation.

No one is eager to sue following a car accident, even if the crash was the other motorist’s fault. Yet, sometimes circumstances, as well as losses, provide no alternatives. Working with our New York City personal injury lawyers costs you nothing upfront. The initial consultation is free and without obligation.

If you agree to have Douglas and London represent your case, we cover all the costs of litigation, investigate your claim, and build a case that is more likely to garner the maximum settlement value. If settlement talks fall flat, we have the resources and expertise to take your case to trial. Should we recover compensation for you, a standard legal fee (about a third of the recovery) will apply. If the case does not succeed, you owe us nothing for our advocacy.