I Got Rear-Ended What Do I Do?

Andrew Levine
Partner, Attorney
wondering what to do after a rear-end crash in New York

Navigating the aftermath of a rear-end collision in the busy streets of New York City can be an overwhelming experience. 

The sudden jolt, the sound of crunching metal, and the ensuing chaos can leave anyone feeling disoriented. Knowing exactly what to do after getting rear-ended can significantly ease the stress and potential financial strain that follows. 

Whether you're a local navigating your daily commute in the Big Apple, or a visitor caught in the city's relentless pace, handling the aftermath of a rear end crash in New York City can be a daunting experience. 

It's important not to underestimate the challenges you may face. From ensuring everyone's safety to dealing with insurance claims and potential legal battles, the path to recovery requires a clear approach

In this guide, you'll learn nine steps to ensure your safety, protect your legal rights, and comply with local laws after a rear end motor vehicle accident in New York. We'll also discuss the advantages of working with an experienced New York City rear end accident lawyer.

Key Insights:

  • After a rear-end collision in New York, prioritize your safety, contact law enforcement, gather evidence, and seek medical attention, even for what may seem like minor injuries like whiplash
  • Understanding New York's no-fault insurance system, including how Personal Injury Protection (PIP) works and the 'serious injury threshold' parameters, is essential for navigating a rear end car accident case
  • If your injuries and damages from a rear-end collision are significant, exploring your legal options beyond the no-fault insurance system may be necessary. Call 212-268-3222 to discuss your legal options with Raphaelson & Levine.

What to Do After a Rear-End Accident in NYC (9 Steps)

what to do after a rear end accident graphic

Approximately one in every three car crashes in the United States is a rear-end collision (Source: NHTSA). 

Amid the chaos of shattered glass and distorted metal of the accident scene, a pressing question emerges: “I got rear-ended in NYC; what do I do now?”

Whether you're seeking legal counsel or trying to navigate through the process on your own, it's crucial to approach the situation with confidence and knowledge. After all, being prepared will greatly increase your chances of achieving a favorable outcome.

The aftermath of an accident isn't just about healing physically—it’s also important to protect yourself legally by documenting everything related to your medical bills and treatments received due to the collision.

1. Check for Injuries

Immediately check yourself and any passengers for injuries. Safety comes first; if anyone is hurt, try to stay calm and call 911 for medical assistance.

2. Move to a Safe Location to Minimize Future Risk (if Possible)

If the vehicles are operational and it's safe to do so, move them to the side of the road to avoid blocking traffic and reduce the risk of additional accidents. If moving your vehicle isn't an a safe option, turn on your hazard lights and wait for help.

3. Contact Law Enforcement

Even if there are no visible injuries or significant damages, having an official police report can strengthen your case when dealing with insurance companies later, or in the event of a personal injury lawsuit. The police will document the accident and file a report, which is crucial for insurance claims and legal purposes. 

You might ask, "Why do I need to involve the police for a minor fender-bender?

Under Section 605 of the NY State Vehicle and Traffic Law, drivers must file an accident crash report (MV-104) within 10 days if either:

  • a person is injured or killed, or
  • there is property damage in excess of more than $1,000

Aside from the law, it can help establish a formal record of events.

4. Exchange Information

Exchange contact information like name(s), addresses, phone numbers, insurance information, and vehicle registration details with the other driver. It's also helpful to take note of the accident location, time, and weather conditions.

5. Document the Scene

Use your smartphone to take photos of any vehicle damage, license plates, traffic signs, and relevant street marks or debris. This documentation can be vital for insurance claims and potential legal proceedings.

6. Seek Medical Help

Car accident injuries aren't always immediate - nerve damage may only show symptoms days later. Even if you feel fine, some injuries like a whiplash injury, the most common physical damage in rear end collisions, might not show up immediately. Visit a healthcare professional for a thorough check-up to ensure any hidden injuries are documented and treated.

7. Consult With a Car Accident Lawyer

Consider consulting with a personal injury attorney who specializes in car accidents. They can offer advice on dealing with insurance companies and ensure your rights are protected, especially if the accident involves significant damages or injuries.

The driver who does the rear-ending is often deemed at fault due to New York’s Vehicle and Traffic Law 1129(a). It requires drivers to maintain a safe distance from vehicles ahead and adjust speed according to traffic conditions. 

But remember, laws aren't always black-and-white

After a car accident, speaking with a personal injury lawyer can help you understand your rights and next steps. But why is this so important?

Firstly, lawyers know the law. They understand New York’s no-fault insurance system and can guide you through its complexities. More importantly, they're skilled at proving negligence—an essential element if your economic losses exceed the state's no-fault injury protection limits.

A competent lawyer also knows how to deal with stubborn insurance companies who often try to minimize or deny claims after rear-end accidents. Plus, their experience gives them insight into calculating fair compensation for tangible costs like medical expenses and intangible damages such as emotional distress or permanent loss of bodily function.

In addition, hiring an experienced attorney can save you time by handling all aspects of your claim—from gathering sufficient evidence and filing paperwork—to negotiating settlements or even representing you in court should it come down to that.

When dealing with the aftermath of a rear driver mishap on New York roads—a good lawyer isn't just nice-to-have—it’s need-to-have.

8. Notify Your Insurance Company

Filing claims with your insurer promptly can speed up getting compensation for vehicle damage or medical expenses, however, insurance adjusters are in the business of saving their company money and may not always have your best interests in mind. 

Provide them with the information gathered, including the police report number, if available. When reporting the collision, stick strictly to facts, avoiding speculation on fault or injury severity at this early stage.

To ease this process, consider enlisting professional help. A law firm like Raphaelson & Levine has experience dealing with insurance companies after motor vehicle accidents and can guide you through all steps effectively.

The New York State Department of Financial Services also provides further information on filing claims under your insurance policy.

Understanding No Fault Insurance & the Personal Injury Protection (PIP) System in New York

no fault insurance in new york

From understanding the complexities of the no-fault insurance system to familiarizing yourself with New York Vehicle & Traffic Law 1129, there are numerous factors to consider after a rear end wreck.

The Big Apple follows a no-fault system for vehicle accidents. But what does "no fault" mean?

Simply put, your auto insurance company pays up to your policy limit for injuries regardless of who caused the crash

New York is one of several states where an accident victim can seek compensation outside its no-fault system if they meet certain conditions known as ‘thresholds.’

Understanding the four elements of New York's no-fault car accident insurance and PIP can help individuals navigate the aftermath of a rear-end accident more effectively, ensuring they receive the compensation they're entitled to under New York law.

No-Fault Insurance System

In New York, the no-fault insurance system means that after a car accident, including rear-end collisions, an individual's own insurance company will cover medical expenses, lost earnings, and other reasonable and necessary accident-related expenses, regardless of who was at fault for the accident. This system is designed to ensure that victims receive timely compensation for their injuries without establishing fault, which can be a lengthy and complex process.

Learn more: How Does No-fault Insurance Work in New York?

Personal Injury Protection (PIP)

PIP is part of the no-fault insurance coverage and is mandatory in New York. It provides coverage for medical expenses, a portion of lost wages, and other necessary expenses related to injuries from a car accident, up to the limit of the policy. PIP coverage applies to the driver, passengers, and any pedestrians struck by the vehicle.

Learn more: New York State Department of Motor Vehicles - Insurance Requirements

Thresholds for Suing Outside the No-Fault System

Although the no-fault system limits the ability to sue for damages, New York law allows individuals to pursue additional compensation through a lawsuit if their injuries meet certain severity thresholds.

These thresholds include:

  • Significant disfigurement
  • Permanent loss of a body organ or member
  • Significant limitation of a body function or system, or
  • A medically determined injury or impairment of a non-permanent nature that prevents the injured person from performing substantially all of the material acts that constitute their usual and customary daily activities

This is meant to ensure that those who suffer serious injuries are able to seek compensation that reflects the full extent of their damages.

Stepping Outside the No-Fault System

If an individual's injuries meet these thresholds, they may pursue a personal injury claim or lawsuit against the at-fault driver to recover additional compensation for pain and suffering, which is not covered by PIP. This is significant when economic and non-economic losses exceed PIP coverage limits or involve long-term or permanent injuries.

Hurt in a Rear End Car Crash? Our New York Injury Attorneys Can Help

Raphaelson & Levine rear end crash lawyers nearby

As you navigate the aftermath of a rear-end collision in New York City, remember that you don't have to face the legal and insurance complexities alone. 

New York’s no-fault insurance system can be complex, but it becomes manageable when equipped with a knowledgeable rear-end accident lawyer at Raphaelson & Levine.

With over thirty years of experience handling car accident claims in New York, our dedicated rear-end accident lawyers are well-versed in NYC's traffic laws and insurance policies, ensuring that your rights are vigorously defended and that you receive the compensation you deserve. 

Take the first step towards securing your peace of mind and financial recovery by contacting us today for a free consultation. Let us advocate for you, so you can focus on what truly matters. If you've been hurt in a rear end collision, we can help. 

NEXT STEPS: Call 212-268-3222 today or contact us online for a free case evaluation.

Andrew Levine
Partner, Attorney
Andrew J. Levine is a partner at Raphaelson & Levine Law Firm, in New York, NY. A graduate of Maurice A. Deane School of Law at Hofstra University. Mr. Levine has been featured in New York Magazine as one of New York’s “Top Personal Injury Litigators” and recognized by Super Lawyers as a “Top Rated Personal Injury Attorney in New York.”

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