Typically, when you hear that someone has been involved in a vehicle accident, you do not imagine a sideswipe accident. However, sideswipe car accidents are more common than one might think. Depending on the facts of the case, a driver may lose control of their vehicle or have it run off the road – or into another vehicle’s path.
If involved in a sideswipe accident, there are important steps you must take. The first thing you should do is call the police and seek any medical attention you may need. Wait for the police to arrive before making any statements. When the police arrive to make a report of the accident, do not admit fault. and If possible, document the scene by taking pictures of the scene and noting important conditions, such as the weather, before you leave the scene. Next, it is important to reach out to a Long Island car accident lawyer who can assist you with claiming the costs of your medical bills and other damages. However, you have a limited window to report your accident to the appropriate insurer, so time is of the essence.
What to Do After You Have Been Involved in a Sideswipe Crash
The moments immediately after an accident are critical, as are the next few days. The following steps will help to preserve your right to file a claim and seek payment for your injuries while ensuring you recover as quickly as possible.
Stop as Soon as You Can Safely Do So
Sideswipe accidents can often lead to secondary collisions after the initial impact as the first driver often loses control of their vehicle. After the initial impact, it is important to maintain as much control over your vehicle as possible. Keep your grip on the steering wheel and your eyes open. If you skid, steer into the skid rather than over-correcting. Apply brakes firmly, but if you have room to stop then avoid fully slamming on the brakes, which may cause your tires to lock. Instead, shift your vehicle into neutral and guide it to a stop as smoothly as possible.
If you can continue to steer and operate your vehicle, guide it towards a safe location off the side of the road. Avoid stopping in traffic or on a median, if possible.
Remain Calm, and Exchange Information With Other Drivers
New York law (VAT § 600) requires that all drivers involved in a collision stop and provide each other with information. That includes the information on their driver’s license as well as their liability insurance policy card.
When exchanging information, avoid apologizing or admitting fault. Furthermore, do not openly accuse the other driver of being at fault. Instead, try to remain calm and focused on the other tasks ahead.
Report the Accident and Any Injuries
Once your vehicle has come to a complete stop, assess yourself and everyone in the vehicle for injuries. If you are able to move, ask others involved if they are injured. Then, dial 911 to report the collision.
Report all injured parties, and request an ambulance for anyone who is visibly injured or in significant pain. Remember that in stressful situations your body produces the hormone adrenaline. Adrenaline can make you numb to pain, so err on the side of caution before assuming an ambulance is not needed.
Seek Medical Attention
Receiving medical care is a top priority when you have been hurt in a sideswipe collision. Once EMTs arrive, allow them to examine you and perform an assessment of your possible injuries. If they recommend transport to the nearest emergency department, follow their advice.
If you are not evacuated before police arrive to document the scene, then take a moment to document the scene yourself, as described further below. Also, make your statement to the police, while keeping the following guidelines in mind.
If you are not in need of immediate medical care, you may wait to seek medical attention until after the police have created an accident report and you have documented the scene of the accident. Visit the nearest emergency department if you are in pain or are concerned about possible injuries. If you think you may have minor injuries, seek out medical care from a clinic or primary care physician within the next few days. Whether you have sustained severe or minor injuries, keep detailed notes about your injuries and the care you receive.
Never delay seeking care. Doing so could not only impact your ability to recover, but it can also hurt your ability to file an injury claim seeking damages.
Don’t Admit Fault
When police respondents arrive, provide them with a full, accurate accounting of the sequence of events, to the best of your knowledge. Don’t openly admit fault, however, and don’t volunteer information that could lead anyone to the conclusion that you were clearly at fault. Answer all questions truthfully, but avoid speculation, including laying blame on yourself or others.
Document the Scene
If you are able to, begin documenting the scene after emergency responders have been notified. Take photos of the wreckage, preferably before any vehicles are moved from the scene, including close-ups and photos from a distance that establish the location and overall layout of the accident. Take a picture s of any visible injuries or bruises in the immediate aftermath of the accident. Also, take pictures of the damage to the vehicles as well as the license plates of all of the vehicles’ involved in the accident.
If any witnesses stop to assist, ask if they can provide you with their contact information. You may request a recorded statement detailing their version of the incident.
Talk to a Lawyer
You have a limited window to report your accident to insurers. No-fault policies in New York have a 30-day time limit to file a notice of a claim. Liability insurance providers often have a similar policy window. While the window may be extended if you discover your injuries days (or sometimes weeks) after the crash, know that in some cases the insurer may not be willing to grant an extension.
An experienced attorney can help you determine the extent of your injuries and how they have affected your life, estimate your damages, and begin working with insurers. Typically, those injured in an accident are not aware of their rights. Thus, it is important to enlist an attorney who knows your rights and can help protect those rights and assure you avoid making common mistakes once you begin negotiating your claim.
Tona Law has fought for the rights of residents of injured Long Islanders for over 20 years. Let our experienced car accident attorneys help you recover the financial damages you have suffered in the aftermath accident. Schedule a free, no-obligation consultation today when you call 1-833-TONALAW (833-866-2529) or contact us online.