Car accidents—in the blink of an eye, your entire life can change. And, normally, it only happens because another driver exercised poor judgment, a manufacturer constructed a faulty vehicle part, or some other party acted in a negligent manner that led to the accident. The chaos that ensues immediately following a car accident can make it hard to know what to do. You may experience shock, anger, and fear.
Unfortunately, Brooklyn is no stranger to car accidents. In fact, in a recent four-month period, more than 117,000 injuries were reported on Brooklyn roadways. Brooklynites need to know what steps to take immediately after an accident to protect their health and legal interests.
Ensure Safety of Yourself and Others
Your first priority after a Brooklyn car accident should be to ensure your safety and avoid harming others. Besides the damages done in the initial impact, the accident could create other hazards, leading to even greater harm, such as if your vehicle is in the line of oncoming traffic and may get hit again. Whenever possible, the vehicles involved in the accident should be moved to the side of the road, out of the flow of traffic.
Notify Law Enforcement Immediately
Contact 911 as soon as possible to report the accident. Advise them of your injuries and of any others’ injuries of which you are aware. Law enforcement will notify emergency medical services as necessary to transport anyone who is seriously injured to an emergency care facility.
Obtain Contact Information from Drivers
Drivers involved in the accident should share information including their names, addresses, telephone numbers, and information regarding their insurer. Also obtain other involved drivers’ license plate numbers, as well as the year, make, and model of the vehicle. But don’t go beyond asking for this identification information, especially any discussion about what caused the accident. If witnesses are available at the scene, obtain their contact information.
Make Notes and/or Photograph Scene
If you are physically able to do so, make notes and take pictures of the scene. Most people today have cell phones they can use for both purposes. Note and take pictures of traffic signs, nearby businesses, and the damage to the vehicles.
If you are unable to take notes or photos, you shouldn’t greatly worry. In a Brooklyn accident, there are likely many people around who can later serve as witnesses. Also, many local businesses have security cameras that might catch the accident. Any such footage can be particularly useful in bridging a later claim to determine how the accident occurred.
Seek Immediate Medical Care
Go to the nearest emergency medical facility or schedule an appointment with your doctor as soon as possible after an accident. If your injuries are severe, you should seek emergency treatment. However, regardless of how well you may feel, you should still see a doctor. You may have immediately undetectable internal injuries. Never assume because you feel fine that you are not injured. Make sure you advise your attending physician that you were involved in a car accident and let them know the type of accident and any other details about the accident you can remember.
Seek Legal Advice from a Brooklyn Car Accident Lawyer
It is a good idea to seek a free case evaluation from an experienced Brooklyn car accident lawyer. It is best to do so even before you report the accident to your insurance company. By calling an experienced car accident attorney first, you can help protect your rights. An attorney can explain your legal options, giving you an idea about how the claim process works and important deadlines to keep in mind. The attorney may further take you on as a client and represent you throughout the claim process.
Filing an Accident Report After a Brooklyn Car Accident
Following your involvement in any Brooklyn car accident in which the damage to any individual is more than $1,000, you and anyone else involved in the accident are required to file an accident report. This report must be completed within 10 days of the incident occurring. You do this by completing a Form MV-104, which is required under Section 605 of the NY State Vehicle and Traffic Law.
Dealing with Insurance Adjusters
You should avoid dealing directly with any insurance adjuster after a Brooklyn car accident. Insurance companies are profit-motivated and serve this end by getting out of paying claims. Instead, you should contact your car accident attorney to handle communications with an insurance adjuster on your behalf.
Some of the specific reasons to avoid communicating with an insurance adjuster include:
- Avoiding mistakes – insurance adjusters will ask you seemingly innocent questions, but which the insurance company may try to use against you later. The kinds of questions they ask may be aimed at pinning fault on you for the accident, or to argue that your injuries are not as bad as you claim.
- Unreasonable demands – insurance adjusters may ask you to provide a recorded statement and insist that, unless you do so, your claim will not be processed. This is false. You should never provide a recorded statement without first consulting with an attorney. Again, the insurer may seek to use the statement to deny or minimize your claim.
- Deliberately confusing questions – insurance adjusters will ask you misleading or confusing questions to get you to contradict yourself. This is common and it is one method insurance companies use to devalue your claim. An experienced Brooklyn car accident attorney will be familiar with these tactics and know-how to answer to avoid any pitfalls.
Having your Brooklyn car accident lawyer deal directly with insurance adjusters is your best option. The last thing you want to do is jeopardize your right to compensation by trying to take on the claim process by yourself.
Dangerous Roadways in Brooklyn
Statistics clearly show that numerous accidents occur on Brooklyn roadways; they do not say what makes Brooklyn roadways so hazardous to drivers, pedestrians, and motorcyclists.
Some of the areas where such hazardous conditions exist and which experience many accidents include:
- 14th Avenue – this road has numerous healthcare facilities, fast food restaurants, and retail outlets. This means there is often heavy stop-and-go traffic. Over a recent four-month period, nearly 200 people suffered an injury in a car accident on this roadway. Distracted driving and failure to yield the right-of-way were considered the primary contributing factors in these accidents.
- 18th Avenue – This street is also busy, with playgrounds, restaurants, and retail outlets. Drivers may become distracted by such attractions. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that distracted driving results in thousands of deaths per year in the United States. Distracted driving and failure to yield the right of way resulted in nearly 300 injuries in various traffic accidents on 18th Avenue in a four-month period.
- Wythe Avenue – hotels, restaurants, and access to sites like Fort Greene, McCarren Park, and Brooklyn Navy Yard likely play a role in the more than 150 injuries victims suffered in accidents on this roadway in a four-month period. Once again, distracted driving and failure to yield were two of the most cited reasons for these accidents.
- Washington Avenue – more than 200 people were injured in accidents on this road in a four-month period that authorities attributed to distracted driving and failure to yield on this busy roadway. Museums, botanical gardens, and restaurants often contribute to the congestion on this road.
If you are one of the thousands of people who travel any of these roadways, especially during peak seasons, you are at a higher risk of suffering an injury. There are other equally dangerous roads in Brooklyn. During peak holiday and tourist seasons, and when schools are in session, many streets in the area become heavily congested, increasing the risk of drivers being involved in an accident.
Furthermore, in each of the areas where there are retail outlets, there are also large trucks traveling the roads, which are often quite narrow. Pedestrians are at particular risk if such trucks force a car to veer off the road. With more than 2.5 million people living in the borough of Brooklyn, many walking about, accidents involving large trucks are bound to happen.
Distracted Driving in Brooklyn
Car accidents caused by distracted driving are unfortunately common in Brooklyn. Besides the aforementioned external driver distractions, cell phones, discussions with passengers, or even their own thoughts may distract drivers. Reports by the New York City Police Department reveal that every vehicle type in Brooklyn was in an accident involving distracted driving.
Victim Injuries in Brooklyn Roadway Accidents
When you are involved in a Brooklyn car accident, the injury you suffer can be lesser or worse depending on many factors. Some of these factors include your age, the speed at which the vehicles are traveling, and the type of collision you are involved in.
Most roads in Brooklyn have speed limits of 25 to 30 miles per hour. Even so, when traffic is light or moving along smoothly, drivers often exceed that limit.
And, despite these lower speed limits, if you are involved in an accident, especially as a pedestrian you can still suffer serious injury, including:
- Traumatic brain injuries – it does not take a great deal of force for a victim to suffer a traumatic brain injury (TBI) when they are involved in a roadway collision. These injuries occur when the victim’s brain is jarred against their skull by an impact. A rear-end collision where a car is moving at just 25 miles per hour could result in life-long cognitive challenges for victims.
- Soft tissue injuries – Soft tissue injuries can include bruises, sprains, and strains, all of which can be very painful and take weeks to heal. These injuries should never be ignored.
- Spinal cord injuries – pedestrians and bicyclists who become victims of car accidents are more susceptible to particularly serious injuries, such as spinal cord injuries. These injuries can result in a lifetime of pain and may leave the victim partly or completely paralyzed and unable to care for themselves. Almost half of spinal cord injury victims sustain their injuries in a car accident.
These injuries can be devastating and expensive to deal with. If you are a victim of a Brooklyn car accident, you need an attorney who can help protect your right to compensation. The responsible driver should be held accountable for your injuries and the added financial burden you and your family will face as a result.
New York and No-Fault Insurance Rules
Because New York is a no-fault insurance state, victims of Brooklyn car accidents may believe they have no choice when it comes to being compensated for their injuries. However, this is a misunderstanding. Victims who suffer serious injury have options beyond their personal injury protection (PIP) insurance.
Here is what victims need to remember about no-fault insurance after a Brooklyn auto accident:
- Victims who suffer serious injuries can still recover from the other driver
- Victims who suffer injuries resulting in a disability lasting 90 days or more may file a claim with their insurance company as well as the responsible party’s insurer
- Significant injury may include significant scarring,= or disfiguration
Victims of Brooklyn car accidents should speak with an experienced car accident lawyer to make sure they do not forgo any opportunity to pursue the full compensation they deserve because they assume they have no alternative but to use the benefits provided under their own PIP coverage.