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The single most important thing to do following a motor vehicle accident is to protect the safety and well being of the passengers in your vehicle and yourself. Therefore, if possible move your vehicle to a safe location either on the shoulder of the road or a nearby parking lot. But before doing so, make sure that moving your vehicle will not cause or exacerbate anybody’s injuries.
Once you’re in a safe location, assess the well being of your passengers and yourself. Ask specific questions to each person. If someone is hurt you should call 911 and request an ambulance immediately. I always recommend calling the police to any accident scene, even if everyone is ok. But, let them know that no one is seriously injured.
The police serve an important role in documenting the accident. First, they gather all relevant insurance information. They also document the accident in terms of time, location and apparent contributing factors. They will gather any witness information. All of this can be incredibly important later on in the legal process. The information will be compiled on a document called a Police Accident MV-104 form. It usually takes about one week to get this document from the police. But you should be provided with a field report on the scene and request the MV-104 as soon as possible.
The police will also ask if you have suffered an injury and want medical attention. Many people will opt to decline medical attention even if they have injuries fearing both the time and expense associated with going to the hospital. I strongly recommend that if you have any pain whatsoever that you accept the offer of medical attention. It will be paid for by insurance and cannot only save your life, but also save any potential personal injury case that you may have.
I’ve come across many individuals that have declined medical attention on the scene, to only find later on in the evening or the next day that their injuries are serious and need to go to the emergency room. Also, I’ve represented many clients that had seemingly minor injuries that progressively grew worse until they were forced to seek medical attention days and even weeks after their accident. Often, insurance companies will try and deny that the car accident was the cause of my client’s pain because my client declined medical attention at the scene. As an attorney, I want to eliminate as many obstacles as possible when seeking compensation for my client. Therefore, always accept medical attention should you be in pain.
Another good idea at the scene of the accident is to collect information if you are physically able to do so. Take photographs of the scene and the vehicles involved in the accident. Also, get witnesses names. Seldom do the police take photographs at the scene of an accident. Only in case of catastrophic injuries will the police call upon the crime scene investigative unit to document the scene with photographs and measurements.
Further, there is no need to converse with the other driver. It is fine to inquire about their physical wellbeing. But, it is best not to discuss the circumstances of the accident. Discussing the accident with the other parties serves no legal purpose and often leads to verbal and/or physical altercations.
Finally, be weary of offers to resolve the matter without the police. This never goes well. There is usually a reason the other party wants to avoid the police and it’s never to benefit you. Either, there is an issue with their license or insurance or they simply know they are at fault and prefer not to have it documented so that they can later deny their wrongdoing. Learn more about handling an accident with someone who is underinsured.
The NY Post reported the deaths of four people killed in a Long Island crash on the Fourth of July. Witnesses to the accident said the driver who caused the fatal collision was speeding, driving erratically and recklessly. Five people called 911 and one of the callers reported the erratic driving prior to the crash.
The pickup truck driver was driving in the southbound lane of Yaphank Middle Island Road, veered into the northbound lane and collided into a Nissan Altima, killing the driver and two elderly people in their 70’s. The mother and 11-month old baby in the car survived and were hospitalized. The pickup truck driver also died in the crash. Police suspect he was driving while intoxicated and believed he was coming from a social gathering. However, investigation is still underway to determine whether alcohol was involved or not.
The roads were also slick from Monday night’s rain in Long Island, which was all the more reason not to speed and to take safety precautions.
When you host a party or celebration, here are some steps you can take to prevent drunken driving accidents:
Be able to recognize drunk drivers by the following signs:
If you see any of the signs of drunk driving, call 911 and report the driver. As much as possible when on the road, avoid drivers show signs of drunk driving.
Newsday reported that on January 18, a 19-year-old driver crashed on the Long Island Expressway in Holtsville after fleeing a police stop. The officer stopped the driver on the westbound LIE as the BMW SUV was approaching from behind him at a high speed. The SUV pulled onto the shoulder for the traffic stop near Exit 62 and initially stopped. However, when the officer approached the vehicle, the driver sped away and exited onto the westbound service road at Exit 62. While traveling at about 80 miles per hour, the SUV swerved to avoid crashing into a tractor-trailer that was stopped on left shoulder and two other vehicles in the left hand lane near Morris Avenue. At this point the SUV flipped over. Significant damage occurred to the vehicle and the driver sustained a leg injury. The vehicle’s passengers experienced only minor injuries.
Police are investigating the accident and arrested the driver for fleeing a police officer and speeding. His name remains undisclosed.
A New York Times article indicates that Suffolk County tops the list for the most dangerous roads in New York. The combination of speed, excessive traffic and unsafe design were factors that made Suffolk’s roads dangerous. In fact, the Long Island Expressway was ranked number three in the list of dangerous roads.
It pays to drive defensively and take precautions when driving on the LIE and other roads throughout Long Island.
Accident victims should seek legal counsel when their injuries exceed the serious injury threshold and another driver is at fault.
As we move further into the winter the weather on Long Island is taking a turn for the worse. Meteorologists anticipate low temperatures and our first snowfall of the season on Wednesday. While it’s only expected to be a light dusting, it reminds us that Long Islanders often have to deal with dangerous conditions during the winter months. The snow, freezing rain and ice can all pose a threat to the safety of Long Islanders this season.
It’s always good to keep in mind some simple safety precautions to take during the winter months that may help you avoid having an accident. First, be aware of the weather conditions while you are driving and walking outside. Know if the temperature is low enough for roadways and walkways to freeze. While 32 degrees is the freezing mark, you should be aware that if the temperature falls below 37 degrees there is a chance that some bridges, roadways and sidewalks may be slippery with ice.
If it is snowing, reduce your speed while driving. This is important for all vehicles, even ones with all wheel drive. While certain vehicles perform well in snow, it’s important to drive them at a safe speed because even all-wheel drive vehicles slip and slide on snowy or icy roads. And just because your vehicle may perform well in the snow, it doesn’t mean that others do. You may find yourself in a position where another vehicle strays into your path, so it is important to always maintain a safe speed while driving in the snow.
Another hazard to be on the lookout for this winter is Black Ice. Be aware that sidewalks, parking lots and driveways may contain black ice, especially early in the morning and at night. What is black ice, and how is it different from regular ice?
Many walkways, parking lots and driveways and sidewalks have snow that melts onto their surfaces during the warmer daylight hours, only to freeze over again at night. This presents a very real possibility of black ice. Black ice may be difficult to detect because the slick surface may not appear to be frozen. It is also extremely slippery. Be vigilant and don’t assume that these areas will be free of ice because they have been cleared.
Finally, should you find yourself the victim of a slip and fall as a result of an icy condition, do not hesitate to report the fall to the property owner or business owner, even if you do not believe that you are hurt. In New York State, property owners and business owners have a responsibility to keep their properties safe and free of dangerous conditions .
Make sure that you get a copy of any report and take pictures of the icy condition that caused your fall. Should you develop pain in the days following your accident you will be glad that you did.