First Steps After an Auto Accident

Watch the following educational legal video by New York Personal Injury Lawyer Anthony Rattoballi as he explains the first steps you should take after being involved in an auto accident in New York.

The first thing you should do if you’re physically able – since most people now have cell phones – is take pictures of both cars. Also, take pictures of any injuries and anything you notice at the scene that you feel might be relevant. I have one client who was pushed into a tree. That client took pictures of the vehicle and the tree. Of course, you should take pictures of the vehicles and the area but, in addition, if you have a camera, use it. Take pictures of the person who caused your accident, the person with whom you were involved in the accident, as well as his or her license, insurance card, and any other papers you think might be relevant.

I have a client whose son was injured at school. When she filed her report with the school, she was smart enough to take a picture of the actual report she filed. Use your camera to the best of your ability. It can help your case a lot, so make use of it. Call 911 and make certain an accident report is filed. Then, wait there at the scene and make sure the officer knows your version of how this incident occurred.

If you’re injured, it’s very important that you go to the hospital or to a doctor immediately after the occurrence because, if your case gets to court, you never want to face the question, “Well, how is it that you were so injured that you didn’t even go to the hospital or the doctor until three days after the event?” That type of scenario can negate the strength of your case. You should take pictures, file an accident report, go to the hospital – and then secure the services of a personal injury attorney who has tried these types of cases.

If the insurance company calls you – the insurance company that covers the other car, that is – you should never give them a statement under any circumstances. Instead, tell them that you have an attorney or that you’re going to obtain an attorney. Until you retain an attorney, the insurance company for the car that caused your accident is entitled to seek a statement from you; however, you should be aware that you have the right to refuse. Once you do retain an attorney, they cannot take any statement from you without the consent or presence of your attorney.

Once you start seeking medical treatment, keep a log. Note the date you went to the doctor, the doctor’s name, how long you were at the doctor’s office, and a description of what occurred during each of your doctor or hospital visits. What tests – such as MRI – were performed. Include physical therapy sessions. It’s important that you stay in contact with your attorney and report any changes in your physical condition and any changes in the doctors you see because your attorney has to obtain your records from all of your medical doctors.

Once your attorney initiates a lawsuit, the other side – the person responsible for your accident, the defendant – will file an answer. After that answer is filed, the defendant will request a bill of particulars about how the incident happened and the extent of your injuries, and your lawyer will respond. Following the bill of particulars, the defendant will conduct a deposition of you, and your attorney will conduct a deposition of the defendant.

After the depositions have been completed, the defense is entitled to have you examined by an independent medical examiner – a doctor hired by them to conduct an examination of your injuries. If you have an orthopedic injury, such as a broken arm, the defense will send you to an orthopedist to be examined. If you suffered a brain trauma, they’ll send you to a neurologist or neurosurgeon. If you have a heart problem, they’ll send you to a cardiologist. Once you have undergone the defense’s independent medical examination, all of your case’s discovery is basically done. At that point, you’re entitled to a trial. It’s really at the time of trial that these things either get settled or tried.

If you’ve been injured, you can count on the experience of the attorneys at Aiello & Cannick. Anthony J. Rattoballi brings over 30 years of legal experience to the firm and has spent much of his career focusing on personal injury – many of his cases have ended in settlements exceeding $1 million. Contact us at our Maspeth, Queens office today to schedule a free and confidential consultation.


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