What to Do After a Minor Car Accident in New York

Car accidents are among the most stressful events that can occur in a person’s life. A study by MIT researchers found that getting sideswiped by another car produces a comparable stress response to jumping out of an airplane. Even minor car accidents can result in long-lasting consequences, such as neck pain from whiplash or financially burdensome vehicle repair.

Having information on how to proceed in the wake of an accident, however, can go a long way toward ensuring that you can return to normalcy as quickly and as painlessly as possible.

What is Considered a “Minor Car Accident” In New York?

Minor car accidents come in many forms. One type, commonly known as the fender-bender, usually entails a vehicle hitting the back of another vehicle at relatively a slow speed. Collisions that result in a cracked headlight or small dent could also be considered minor accidents. These accidents often occur in parking lots or at stop signs and stoplights, where slow speeds prevent more severe damage and injury from occurring.

Minor Car Accident vs. Serious Accident

Generally speaking, a minor car accident is one that results in no serious injuries, no fatalities, and no significant vehicle damage. After exchanging insurance information, both parties are able to drive away from the scene because the cars are still functional, and no one is badly hurt. A serious accident, on the other hand, is one that results in considerable injury, one or more fatalities, and/or significant damage to the vehicle.

It should be noted that official sources such as the police, insurance companies, and government agencies generally do not use these categorizations. This reflects the absence of a hard cut-off that distinguishes a minor accident from a serious one, and the fact that an accident that seems minor in the moment can result in injuries that don’t produce immediate symptoms, such as internal bleeding, soft-tissue damage, and persistent muscle and joint pain.

What To Do After a Minor Car Accident

Immediately following a minor car accident, it is in your best interest to take the following steps:

  • Make sure that no one is hurt. Call 911 if you or anyone else sustained an injury in the crash.
  • Clear the road. Move your car to a safe location where you are no longer blocking traffic.
  • Talk to the other driver. Speaking calmly, arrange a way to exchange contact and insurance information. Some find it easiest to take a picture of the other driver’s license and insurance card, rather than writing the information down. Do not apologize to the other driver or assign them responsibility for the crash—fault will be determined later. Also refrain from making promises about not pursuing an insurance claim or involving other parties.
  • Call the police. They will create an official police report confirming information about the incident. Having the officer take witness statements at the scene also helps prevent the other driver from changing his/her story later, potentially implicating you to a greater degree. The police report will also be helpful for insurance purposes and in the case of filing an injury claim. Furthermore, please note that if someone is injured or the damage is severe, you are legally obligated to call the police.
  • Document the scene. Take pictures from various angles of both cars and any skid marks caused by the accident. Also photograph any visible injuries, even if they are minor.
  • Contact a New York car accident attorney. An attorney can help guide you through the complexities of insurance claims and liability disputes to ensure the best possible outcome for your case. Call the The Law Offices of Evan W. Kohn at 718-409-5500 for a free and confidential consultation about the accident.
  • Report the accident to your insurance provider. Even if you were not at fault and there was no vehicle damage, you should call the insurer to inform them about the accident. Some insurance plans will raise prices if you do not report an accident immediately (within two days). You can find your insurance carrier’s number on your insurance card.

Subsequent steps will depend on the circumstances of the case and the recommendations of your attorney. These could include getting an estimate of your damages, filing an insurance claim against the other driver, or filing a small claims action if the driver was uninsured. You should also consider obtaining a copy of the police report once it is available.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do You Need to File a Police Report After a Car Accident?

In short, it depends. In the state of New York, you are obligated to file a police report for a car accident if at least one of the following is true:

  • The crash resulted in injury or loss of life; and
  • One of the parties sustained property damage in excess of $1,000.

If you do not file a written report within 10 days of such an accident, you can be charged with a misdemeanor and your license may be suspended.

While you are not obligated to file a police report if the accident resulted in less damage, it is still a good idea to do so, and strongly recommended should you decide to file an insurance claim for the accident. Insurance companies will likely deny the claim if there is no police report.

Should You Report Your Car Accident to Your Insurance Company?

Yes. It is important to let your insurance company know about any accidents in order to comply with the contract between you and your carrier. Most contracts require that you report all accidents within a reasonable time frame, which usually means within a few days. Not reporting in a timely manner could affect your accident coverage.

You are not obligated by the state of New York to report your accident. However, we would recommend doing so for the above-mentioned reason.

How Long Do You Have To Report A Car Accident in NYC?

Depending on the severity of the accident, you may need to report it within 10 days. This would be the case if the accident caused damage to any of the cars involved that totaled more than $1,000, if anyone was injured in the crash, and/or if a fatality occurred.

Should You Contact a Lawyer After a Minor Car Accident?

Yes. A lawyer will have experience in the relevant laws/statutes affecting your situation. For instance, in New York, there is a three-year statute of limitations for personal injury claims related to traffic accidents, but certain factors can reduce this timeline, such as the involvement of a government entity. Our team of highly-skilled car accident attorneys at the The Law Offices of Evan W. Kohn is skilled in all aspects of car accident litigation, including victim’s rights, insurance settlements, disputes about which party is responsible, and more.

Contact the The Law Offices of Evan W. Kohn Today

If you have been injured in a major or minor car accident due to the negligence of another, the skilled legal team at the The Law Offices of Evan W. Kohn can help. We have successfully represented countless clients in motor vehicle accident cases, and we have an impressive track record of obtaining substantial compensation in a timely manner. Do not attempt to go through this complex, stressful process without the help of skilled legal counsel by your side. Contact the The Law Offices of Evan W. Kohn today at 718-409-5500 for a free and confidential consultation about your case.

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