NY Drivers’ Guide – Securing Yourself Legally in an Auto Crash Aftermath

Over the decades serving as Auto Accident Lawyers in New York, we’ve seen it all. Car accidents, motorcycle accidents, and even Uber and Lyft accidents without a clear “guy in the wrong”. Sometimes, there’s merely a hazy recounting of the events leading up to, and following, the accident. Fortunately, there are a few things you, as a driver, can do to speed up the legal processes following a crash. 

While nothing is black or white, here is a foolproof guide to protecting yourself legally in case you’re ever in a car accident in NY.

What Classifies as an Auto Accident?

According to New York law, an auto accident is any incident involving motor vehicles that results in damage or injury. The broad definition includes collisions between two or more cars, trucks, motorcycles, buses, or other motorized vehicles on public roads, highways, or private property where vehicle operation is common. 

Any accidents involving pedestrians, cyclists, or stationary objects – like street signs and buildings – are also classified under this category. 

Additionally, New York considers accidents caused by vehicle malfunctions or failures as auto accidents. That is IF they lead to injury or damage. 

Any form of an auto incident must be reported if they result in physical injuries to any party, death, or significant property damage. 

The Most Common Causes for Auto Accidents in NY

New York is a fast-paced city bustling with busy city folk and bad traffic. Auto accidents in New York can occur for a variety of reasons. Some causes are more prevalent than others. As someone who drives in New York regularly, it’s important to thoroughly understand these common causes. It can help you drive more strategically, avoiding accident prone areas and spotting potential hazards early. 

Driving While Distracted

This is the leading cause of auto accidents in New York. Distractions can happen for several reasons—texting, calling, using GPS, eating, or even adjusting climate controls. When drivers are not fully focused on the road, their reaction time slows. This is what increases the likelihood of an accident.

Speeding Over Limits

Exceeding speed limits or driving too fast is another major cause of accidents. Speeding reduces the driver's ability to steer safely around objects in the roadway or at a bend. The distance necessary to stop a vehicle is extended. This ends up increasing the distance a vehicle travels while the driver reacts to an obstacle ahead.

Drunk Driving

Alcohol impairs thinking, reasoning, and muscle coordination. A driver’s attention must be fully engaged in operating a vehicle safely. Despite strict DUI laws, drunk driving remains a serious problem. And every year, it contributes significantly to the rate of auto accidents in the state.

Reckless Driving

This includes aggressive driving behaviors like changing lanes abruptly, improper turns, tailgating, and disregarding traffic signals. Such behaviors endanger not only the aggressive driver but also other road users.

Weather Conditions

New York's climate can also contribute to auto accidents. Changing seasons with snow, ice, rain, and fog significantly affect driving conditions and visibility. If the driver is not cautious, slippery roads and decreased tire traction can lead to accidents.

Failure to Obey Traffic Signals

Ignoring traffic lights and signs, or failing to yield the right-of-way, are common causes of intersection collisions. 

By addressing these key issues New York’s drivers can work towards reducing the number of auto accidents and enhancing overall traffic safety.

Steps to Follow in Case of a Car Crash According to NY Law

In the event of an auto accident in New York, NEVER forget to call an accident lawyer. Still, taking the correct immediate legal action from the time of the accident to calling your lawyer is crucial. There are certain measures you can take to protect yourself legally if ever you find yourself in an accident.  It can guarantee your safety and also keep you compliant with state laws. This can optimize the outcome of any future claims or legal issues. 

Here’s a comprehensive guide on the steps to follow, according to New York accident law:

Ensure Safety and/or Provide Assistance

First and foremost, assess the safety of all passengers involved. New York law requires drivers involved in any accident to stop and stay at the scene. Check for any injuries and provide reasonable assistance in the vicinity. This includes calling for medical help if necessary. Failing to do so could result in criminal charges, depending on the circumstances. Particularly if the accident involves serious injuries or fatalities.

Alert Law Enforcement

For any accident in New York that results in injury, death, or significant property damage (typically over $1,000), you must notify the police immediately. A police report is vital in such cases. It documents the incident and is a critical piece of evidence for insurance and legal purposes. The officers will fill out an accident report, and you should obtain a copy for your records.

Exchange Information with Others Involved

New York law mandates the exchange of information with the other drivers or pedestrians involved in the collision. 

This includes:

- Name, address, and contact details

- Driver’s license number

- Insurance company and policy number

- Vehicle registration information

- License plate number

Of course, you may do this only if the other party is conscious and able to respond to you.

Additionally, it is helpful to gather information from witnesses. This information can be invaluable in resolving disputes about the accident. You may also call your lawyer immediately and discuss how you can do this in a legally appropriate way.

Document the Scene

If it's safe to do so, take videos or photographs of the accident scene, including all vehicles involved. Make sure to capture all visible damage, road conditions, traffic signs, and the overall environment. These photos can provide crucial details for insurance claims and legal scrutiny.

Report to Your Insurance Company

Inform your insurance company about the accident as soon as possible. New York follows a “no-fault” insurance system. This means that your own insurance company will provide compensation for injuries and lost wages, regardless of who caused the accident. Filing this claim promptly is essential as there are strict timelines to follow if you wish to receive no-fault benefits.

File Motorist Accident Reports

If the police do not come to the accident scene, and the accident caused property damage of more than $1,000 or any injuries, you must file a Motorist Accident Report with the New York Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). This must be done within 10 days of the accident. Failure to file this report could result in a suspension of your driver’s license.

Seek Medical Attention

Even if you do not believe you were injured, it is advisable to see a doctor after an accident. Injuries from auto accidents can appear hours or even days later. Medical records will also serve as important documentation if you later decide to pursue compensation for injuries. This is a must.

Consult an Attorney

Navigating the aftermath of an auto accident can be complex. Especially if there are significant injuries or disputes about who’s at fault. Consulting with an attorney who specializes in auto accident law in New York can provide guidance on protecting your rights and understanding your legal options. A well-trained attorney can also help manage negotiations with insurance companies. And, if necessary, represent your interests in court.

Follow Legal and Insurance Requirements

Continue to comply with any legal and insurance requirements until everything regarding the accident is finalized. Make sure to attend any required court appearances or independent medical examinations. Keeping detailed records of all communications related to the accident will help ensure that you are fully prepared for these proceedings. 

By following these steps, you can make sure that you comply with New York accident law, protect your rights, and improve your chances of a favorable outcome. This proactive approach is essential in managing the legal ramifications following an auto accident. It can also greatly aid your recovery process.

Always remember that your attorney plays the most crucial role from the time of your accident until reparations are made. Always make sure you’re talking to a reputable auto accident lawyer in New York. To find out how to contact a trusted attorney, talk to us here, or get in touch with us at 866-995-9035.

If you’re suffering from injuries after an accident caused by negligence, call Alex Yadgarov & Associates today at (718) 276-2800, , or contact us online for a free consultation. Our personal injury attorneys are committed to putting our clients first, and if you’re unable to visit us, we’ll come to you.