What should drivers do after a New York auto accident?

Being involved in an auto wreck may be a harrowing and shocking experience, which is why it may benefit drivers to know how to react before one happens.

Many people have a false sense of security, believing they will not be involved in a motor vehicle collision as long as they obey the traffic laws themselves. However, an auto accident may happen at any time, to anyone. In fact, the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles reports there were 299,452 crashes across the state in 2014 alone. Due to the potentially jarring and upsetting nature of car wrecks, it may be helpful for drivers to know how to react before such an event happens to them.

Check for injuries

Whether a fender bender or a more significant wreck, drivers and passengers who are involved in collisions may suffer minor or serious injuries. Therefore, the first step for motorists following an accident should be to assess themselves and their vehicles' occupants to see if anyone has been injured. They may pull over so they are out of traffic, and danger of being struck by another automobile, to conduct their checks, but it is important that they do not leave the scene. If anyone has suffered an injury, the drivers involved are required to inform the authorities and to file a report with the DMV.

Exchange contact information

After making sure everyone is okay in their own vehicles, drivers may check on the others involved in the crash, and get the contact information for the other motorists. This includes their names, phone numbers, driver's license numbers and insurance details. Having the contact information may be helpful should they need to file an insurance claim, as well as if they choose to take legal action. When talking with other people who were involved, witnesses and law enforcement, however, people should take care not to admit fault.

Document the scene

When filing insurance or legal claims after a motor vehicle collision, people may need to prove who was responsible for causing the wreck. Thus, it may be helpful for them to take pictures or otherwise document the scene. Drivers may photograph the scene, the automobiles involved and any visible injuries. If the authorities come out and make a report, it is also advisable for drivers to obtain a copy for their own records.

Gather witnesses

In proving responsibility for an auto accident, people may sometimes need more than just pictures of the scene and their own personal accounts. As such, it is advisable for drivers to speak with the bystanders following collisions. They may consider getting the contact information for any witnesses, so they may be called to testify if the need for legal action arises.

Seek legal counsel

The effects of motor vehicle wrecks may be devastating for New Yorkers and their families. Those involved may lose income and incur undue medical expenses, as well as suffer other damages, as a result of their injuries. However, depending on the circumstances, the at-fault drivers may be held financially responsible for such losses. Therefore, people who have been injured in auto accidents may benefit from discussing their rights and options with an attorney.