Auto Accident? Here’s What You Should Do


More than six million drivers get into auto accidents that injure three million people annually. Driver speeding, large SUVs, and inattention because of car and cell phones contribute to the problem. A serious injury can affect your work and your family’s lives for along time.

Here are ten specific and immediate steps to take if you are in an auto accident.

  1. Try to remain calm and thoughtful.
  2. If you are injured, stay in your car – unless it’s dangerous to do so.
  3. Wait for the police and medical help.
  4. Inform the police about the accident for the official report.
  5. Record all witnesses’ names, addresses and phone numbers.
  6. Confirm whether you were wearing a seat belt, which is the law in most jurisdictions.
  7. If you are injured, insist on being transported to a hospital in an ambulance.
  8. In all instances, obtain medial treatment immediately. Tell medical personnel about everything that you feel may be physically wrong.
  9. Refrain from taking legal referrals at hospitals.
  10. Do not talk to insurance reps until you contact a lawyer.

If you have any questions of have been involved in an accident, please contact our office by calling (800) 581-1434.

 Mark E. Seitelman,


64 Responses to Auto Accident? Here’s What You Should Do

  1. Please feel free to call (800-581-1434) to discuss your problem.

  2. Leave a message for my soon regarding a car accident that happened * * *.

  3. Frances says:

    I would like to understand the legal issues.

    Let’s say a party had an accident in January and is been treating for that accident. Then in August she has a second accident.

    How can we bill the insurance company to separate both treatments? The one in January was critical, but the one in August it was just a light impact.

    Please reply. I work for a pain managment group, and one of the doctors is a nightmare. 95% of his cases are no fault accidents.

    Thank you for your help.

  4. When there are two accidents for the same injuries, there can be a mess.

    It is easy if the accidents involve separate and distinct injuries. E.g., accident # 1 involves a fractured left leg, and accident # 2 involves neck and back injuries.

    It becomes a mess where accident # 1 involves neck and back injuries, and accident # 2 involves the same injuries.

    I cannot advise a doctor as to how to bill the insurance companies. However, it would appear that if the injuries from accident # 1 were unresolved and were not affected by accident # 2, then the billing should be on accident # 1. If the injuries in accident # 1 had resolved, and treatment had ceased, but there was an aggravation of those initial injuries, then billing should be against accident # 2.

    If you have questions, please feel free to call me at 800-581-1434.


    Mark E. Seitelman

  5. Elizabeth says:

    I have been in an accident in the Bronx in NYC. I have just recieved the accident report and the informtion is wrong. My side was not taken due to injuries at the scene. I want to know if I can contest it. I have pictures of the scene and car.

  6. Sometimes, the policeman makes a mistake on the report and is willing to amend it. For example, we have seen amendments where the initial report has car # 1 listed as # 2. In this case, the police officer will amend the report to show the correct identity of the vehicle owners and drivers.

    However, often the police will not amend the report. Otherwise, the police would be flooded with people who seek to exonerate themselves in an amended report.

    It is best that you review your report with an attorney IMMEDIATELY. You can feel free to call me.

    Thank you for your reply.

  7. renee rowell says:

    My friend was in a minor car accident (a nail went through the license plate) a passagner in the car claims to have been injured. Will my friend insurance go up? Also the police noted that a passenger was taken to the hospital with pre-existing condition unrelated to the accident can she sue. However, his statement is not on the police report. Please advise. Thank you.

    • Dear Rowell,

      Your friend, the vehicle owner, should immediately send the claim to his insurance company. They will handle it.

      Your friend’s insurance may go up if your friend was at fault at causing the accident. Your friend should check with his insurance broker or agent.

      In any event, your friend must report the claim immediately to his insurer. Your friend’s insurance company will take care of the investigation and defense. All of these matters must be discussed with the insurance company.

      If anyone involved in the accident was injured I would be happy to talk to them.

      Good luck.

      Mark E. Seitelman

  8. Gary B says:

    My fiance and the mother of my 1 year old child was involved in a bad car accident with a drunk driver. ( baby was not in the car TG) The police report states that he is 100% responsible. She has one leg broken and her hip shattered and ankle fracture on the other leg. She will be laid up for months in recovery. I now have the baby living with me full time. Can I be a part of the lawsuit against the drunk driver with her or should I file my own?

    • If I understand you correctly, your fiance was the injured party. You and the child were not injured.

      In that event, only your fiance would have a claim against the other vehicle. Unfortunately, you would not have a claim for the inconvience and time for the extra work involved for caring for your child.

      However, if the mother had to hire and pay baby sitters, maids, housekeepers, etc., then such out of pocket expenses could be part of her claim.

      I am sorry to hear that your fiance had such serious injuries. I wish her well.

      If you or your fiance wish to discuss the accident, please feel free to call me at 800-581-1434.


      Mark E. Seitelman

  9. tosha says:

    My daughter was driving my car, and she is not on my insurance. She hit the back of a car, and it was her fault.

    Will I be sued and lose my insurance ?

    • Assuming that your daughter had your consent to operate your vehicle, she will be be covered in the event that she is sued for the accident. She also will be covered if she requires medical treatment.

      You, as the vehicle owner, may be sued by the other parties. You as the vehicle owner will be vicariously liable for the negligence of your driver, i.e., your daughter. Your insurance company should cover you for the lawsuit.

      If you or your daughter receive a claim letter or summons and complaint from other parties, then send them immediately to either your insurance company, agent, or broker. If you delay, the delay may prejudice your coverage. Your insurance company will take care of the claim.

      You should discuss with your insurance agent or broker whether this accident will affect the insurance company’s decision to renew your insurance when it expires. The insurance company is not allowed to cancel now by reason of the accident.

      If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me at 800-581-1434.

      Good luck!

      Mark E. Seitelman

  10. joyce pluuta says:

    My daughter was involved in car accident. It was not not her fault. Here 2008 Rave Toyota had damage of about $13,000.

    Her insurance company says that the damage was not enough to total the car. The repairs are being done, but the car has not finished been yet. She have found that her car is worth $10,000 less because of accident and reconstruction. She is having problems with her dealer over the repairs. The insurance company won’t fight for her and will not pay her the $10,000 she will lose if she sells the car.

    What can she do? Can you please direct me? Your help is appreciated.

    • I am afraid that there is not much that your daughter can do.

      The insurance company has the right to pay the lesser of either the cash value or cost of repair. In this instance, the cost of repair is less than “totalling” the car. The insurance company had the right to pay for the repairs.

      A car’s value will depreciate due to a major collision. That is a fact of life. The insurance company is not responsible for maintaining the vehicle’s resale value. All that is obligated to do is to pay on the loss. Also, the insurance company is not responsible for her ongoing car payments or lease payments.

      If your daughter is having problems with the the quality of the dealer’s repairs, then she may want to go to small claims court. The same applies if the insurance company is undervaluing the nature and cost of the repairs.

      Good luck. I am sorry that I cannot give you a more positive answer.

  11. karon says:

    I had an accident with my car.

    I have full coverage, but I was at fault. I backed up into a parked car. I was the person involved in the accident.

    I don’t have an accident report, and the owner of the other car and I have decided to take care of this without our insurance companies’ involvement.

    What must I do if I decide to go to my insurance company? I am thinking of this fixing the other car may be more expensive than my deductible. Also, how do I get my car repaired?

    • You must notify your insurance company as soon as possible. If you do not, then your insurance may refuse to cover you for either the other vehicle’s property damage or your own property damage.

      If you have full coverage, have your insurance company handle everything.

      Good luck.

  12. I was hit by a vehicle crossing the center lane. She says that I crossed the line. Police determined it was my fault. No witnesses.

    What now?

  13. juwel says:

    I and my mom got into a car accident.

    I was driving the car, and my mom was in the passenger seat. I did not got the police report yet, but I know this is not my fault. I was driving straight but other car did not stop at the stop sign and came in front of my car.

    After the accident I and my mom lost sense. Then they took us to the hospital. The police never asked us any questions about the accident. Thats why I am worried how he is going to know whose fault is it.

    I Was 4 days in the hospital and few brushes in the back, neck and head. My mother got hurt in the neck and legs. It’s been 7 days my mom still in the hospital and we have not gotten the police report. We went to the police station, but they told us that the officer went vacation.

    My questions are:

    1. can we sue the insurance?

    2. If police give wrong report can we fight it?

    3. After the accident I can not walk properly, and I am scared to drive, and I also have sleeping problems in the night. Can I sue him for that problem?

    Thank you so much for your help.

    • 1. You may have a case against the other vehicle owner and operator for your personal injuries.

      2. If the police made a “wrong” report, there may be opportunities to correct it. Also, a negative police is not necessarily the end of the case.

      3. Yes, you can sue for these injuries if they qualify as serious injuries in New York.

  14. Ara Serra says:

    I was involved in a car accident last year.

    I called the police and made a report, but I forgot to call my insurance company to report it.

    The other party made a claim to my company for his property damage even though his car was fine. He lied to my insurance company and was paid. On the other hand I did not get my car fixed. My car had significant damage in the front.

    I called my insurance company to ask why my insurance company paid without asking me first what happened. The person I spoke to said that he spoke to me although there was no such conversation. I did not know about this claim payment until I received the new policy. My policy premium increased because of this accident.

    I would like to know what can I do. Can my insurer fix my car? Or can the other guy’s insurance company can fix my car?

    • You have two issues:

      First, you may or may not have collision coverage with your carrier. If you did not have first-party property coverage, then the fact that you did not notify your carrier may be irrelevant. However, if you did have such coverage, then you should make a claim now. The carrier might refuse to cover on the ground of late notice.

      Second, you may have a claim for property damage against the other vehicle owner. You should make a claim.

      In sum, notify your insurance company of the claim. Also notify the other insurance company of your claim for property damage.

      Good luck.

  15. Janelle says:

    I was in a car accident on July 4, 2010.

    I was six months pregnant at the time and was transported to the hospital by ambulance because the steering wheel hit my stomach. I stayed in the hospital a few hours and was placed on bedrest for two weeks.

    My car was not totaled, but it will be in shop for a month and a half. My insurance on the rental car runs out before I can get my car back. The other driver is 100% at fault because he was driving in the wrong lane and his insurance is already paying for the repairs. Shouldn’t they also pay for the rental car after my insurance runs-out?

    • As a general rule, the other vehicle’s insurer will not pay for the rental car. As a general rule, the other vehicle owner is only responsible for the actual cash value of your demolished automobile.

      You should check with an attorney in your area.

      Good luck!

  16. Dori Burton says:

    Hi, I just moved to New York from California, and although everyone thinks we drive everywhere, I am from Sacramento with lots of train transportation.

    Now in NYC I will be driving again and saw your BEING PREPARED list on a tax accountant website (have to file quarterly so have to change that too) anyway I want you to know how helpful you were to me and how thoughtful and helpful your replies to other people’s problems were. I never had an accident but now I know who I will call. You are one of the good guys.


  17. Jackie Gutierrez says:

    I got into a car accident on Nov. 30,2010.

    I was going home after picking-up my 5 year old daughter. She was in the car with me at the time in her booster seat.

    We both went to the hospital in an ambulance after I called 911.

    I’m taking physical therapy for my back. The doctors said that my daugter is too young for that.

    Can I sue the other driver that ran the stop sigh for my injuries as well as my daughter for pain and suffer. My daughter is afraid to get into a car. Your answer is appreciated. Thank you.

  18. Frank says:

    Very Nice information about Auto Accident

  19. Kop Kooper says:

    I was involved in an car accident with my wife and kids on December 16th. All were in my car. No one was hurt, thank God.

    The other driver, an commercial truck was making an left turn without looking and hit my car right at the middle between the 2 doors. My car was totalled and is sitting at an autoshop.

    I don’t have full coverage, and I have filed an liability claim on the other car’s insurance. They keep telling me they are unable to get an report from their Driver. It’s been a month already, and I’m still getting the same answer. I have faxed an copy of the policy to the insurance company.

    How long does this usually take to get the claim going and start getting my car repaired? What can I do to speed this up? What are my options if this continue another month?

    Any help will be greatly appreciated.

    • Each state has its own standards of “fair claim settlement” practices. Check to see if the insurance company is in violation of these standards.

      Get an idea from the insurance as to when you can expect payment assuming no cooperation from its driver. Keep following-up with the insurance company. If they don’t settle within a reasonable time, such as within the next couple of weeks, file suit in Small Claims.

      Good luck!

      You can

      • Kop Kooper says:

        Thank You for the prompt reply and information.

        The other Driver is from NJ, I’m from NY. If you would know whats the standards of “fair claim settlement” for New Jersey, please post it.

        Thank You Again.

      • I cannot comment on New Jersey law.

        If the accident happened in New York, feel free to call me to discuss.

  20. greg says:

    I was in an at fault auto accident on 11-14-10.

    This was a minor bump up consisting of 2 vehicles. Lady in front of me was attempting to make a left turn with the both of us being at a dead stop. As she attempted to make her turn she then reapplied her breaks where as at the same time I thinking she was pulling away rolled into the rear of her vehicle at the most 10mph.

    The only visual damage was a small crack in the middle of her rear bumper no other damage that I could see even the police officer verified as well but did not write an accident report due to he did not feel that the damage would be over $1000.

    I have had auto body work experience and I expected at the most $800 worth of damage. Unfortunately I did not take photos for documentation. We recently found out that this individual did not make her claim until 12-22-10 over 1 month after the accident, and the claim was for $3504.

    I feel that there is some sort of insurance claim fraud her wether she was in and additional accident or was able to receive a false estimate. I have contacted claims dept of my ins. co. but they will not issue a copy of the claim just gave brief discription over the phone. The claims rep did say photos where taken by body shop but the claims dept. will not issue any info.

    Hands down there is no way the damage from this minor bump up with this individual was 3500 worth of damage and would like to know what my legal rights are to at least see existing photos to verify for myself and to compare if additional damage from what I observed is obvious in photos that have been taken and if so is there any legal action that can be taken.

    FYI–damage to my vehicle was only $800 worth of damage my vehicle being a 2002 Ford explorer, and hers a 2008 Honda Civic

    • The adjustment of the other lady’s property damage is in the hands of your insurance company. You have no rights to insist on inspecting its file and photos, but you can apply some gentle persuasion to allow your invovlement so as to avoid your insurance company from paying-out too much.

      Good luck.

  21. mike stanton says:

    I was in a car accident in which another party rear ended me and caused a disc herniation. Doctors are recommending that I have surgery. If I elect not to have the surgery will I still be able to sue the other party and recover for pain and suffering?

    • I cannot state whether or not you have a case. You need to discuss this with a lawyer.

      I will say that in New York surgery is not a requirement in order to obtain a recovery. A “serious injury” is the requirement.

  22. hakeem says:

    I had an accident in New York City.

    On 2/21/11, I was driving on W. 13th Street towards Washington Avenue when a Fedex truck struck my car. It dented my door at the passenger back side and also took down my back bumper. I had my seat bealt on. I took some pictures and police came to the scene and made a report.

    About 30minutes later as I was driving back home I felt pain at my neck and decided to go to the emergency room. The doctors saw me and put a brace on my neck. They discharged me a hour later with some medications and recommended two days of rest.

    The police report says that the other guy was at fault.

    I went back to the emergency room on the third day for follow-up because I was still having neck pain.

    My question is whether I can still sue for pain and suffering? if so, does my insurance provides lawyers, or do I have to hire one myself?

    • From your question it looks like you have a case worth pursuing.

      Your insurance company does not provide an attorney. You must hire your own attorney. Accident attorneys work on a contingency fee which means that the attorney fee is 1/3 of the net recovery after the reimbursement of the expenses advanced by the attorney.

      I suggest that you arrange to see an attorney about your accident.

  23. EVE says:

    I was parked at a gasoline station getting gas. My passenger door was slightly opened. A car coming in to get gas hit my door damaging the door, hinges, and window.

    Who is at fault? The other driver said that she was not paying attention and was not looking.

    • It would appear that the other driver would be at fault if the facts and police report support what you have stated.


      You might want to try to negotiate directly with the other driver’s insurance company or hire an attorney. Again, it’s your call.

      Good luck.

  24. Ashley says:

    I was in an accident recently.

    I received a letter from the other driver’s lawyers inquiring about his medical bill. Does that mean he didnt have any car insurance? what steps should I take?

    • You should take two steps:

      1. Immediately notify your insurance company of the accident; and

      2. Immediately see an attorney in your locality. He can answer your questions.

      Good luck.

  25. Saby says:

    I was in a minor car accident.

    The question is whose fault is it? * * * What should I do?

  26. Susan says:

    I took my car to the dealer for repairs, and the garage had an accident with my car. I wasn’t driving my car.

    What should I do? Should I call my insurance company?

    • Yes!

      Always notify your insurance company as soon as possible after an accident. If you fail to do so you risk a denial based upon late notice.

      Good luck.

      • Susan says:

        I wasn’t driving my car when the accident occurred. My car was in the dealership for a car inspection.

        What steps should I take?

        They gave me a rental car but who is paying for that?

        I don’t want that accident on my record because it wasnt my fault. Should I sue to the dealership?


      • First and foremost, you should consult with a local attorney to get definitive answers. I, a New York attorney, cannot provide advice to a person in Kansas.

        Generally, the dealership or its employee or both will be responsible for the negligent operation of your vehicle left in its care. However, if your state has a vicarious liability law, then you would be responsible as the owner.

        It is imperative that you provide immediate and written notice to your insurance carrier. Also, see a local attorney.

        Good luck.

  27. rubina says:

    We just got into an accident. It was not our fault because the car from behind hit a car that was behind us. As a result, I was struck in the rear, and I was pushed into the rear of the car in front of me.

    No one was seriously injured. My car had no damages, and the car in front of me had no damage. But the car behind us had some rearend damage. Also, the car that started the chain-collision has some damage to its front.

    My questions are:

    1. Am I going to be responsible for any payment from my insurance company?

    2. Can I be sued from other parties?

    • First, you should see an attorney in your locality who can provide specific answers to your situation.

      Second, my discussion is based on general New York law, but you should be guided by a local attorney.

      Immediately notify your insurance company of the accident. Get a claim number and claims adjustor name.

      Your insurance company provides a very valuable service, It handles the claim and provides a free defense to a claim and lawsuit. But, you must make sure that you immediately provide notice to your insurer so that it can mount a defense early. Also, this is a requirement of your insurance policy as well as the requirement that you cooperate with your insurance company.

      If you receive any claim letters or attorney letters, then send them to your insurance company immediately. Your insurance company will handle the claim and any potential lawsuits. This is why you bought insurance, and it is part of the insurance agreement.

      You may be sued by another party even though you claim that you were not at fault. In the event you receive a summons and complaint, send them immediatety to your insurance company. They will handle your defense. Ultimately, you may have no liability, but your insurance carrier will handle the job of defending you.

      Good luck.

  28. physical therapy billing…

    […]Auto Accident? Here’s What You Should Do «[…]…

    • vicky says:

      Dear Sir,

      I had a accident on Oct.31, 2011, in New Jersey. It appears that the other driver was at fault. He crossed my street and sideswiped my passenger side. This young man was out of control and crossed the curb. He passed the sidewalk, almost hit the trees. His care came to rest on the sidewalk.

      I was in shock.

      There was a typo on the police report. The police man wrote that my car sliding. (That was wrong. I was fully stop and looking both sides of the street.)

      How could I change the typo on the police report?

      Could a arbitration put fault on my side, even the other driver cross the line drove my street and hit

  29. Kate says:

    On October 25, 2011, I sideswiped a cement post at a gas station damaging the passenger side doors to my car.

    I debated just leaving it, as the car is a 2004 model and it was only cosmetic (it passed NYS Inspection after the damage). My husband didn’t want to leave it unrepaired, so I got several estimates between $3000 and $4000. I called my insurance company on 11/22/11 to cover it since the cost was so high. The NYState Accident report form MV-104 (that the insurance company sent me) states that I must report within 10 days!

    Could I be charged with a misdemeanor?

    • Generally, the DMV will accept a late MV-104 without any complaint. Your late filing is an innocent mistake since you did not know that you had to file. There was no bodily injury, and police were not at the scene.

      Just mail it immediately by certified mail, return receipt requested.

      Good luck.

  30. Neil says:

    I was rear-ended by a large delivery van earlier today, and I realized that the police filed the report under the wrong registration.

    I was very shaken-up after the accident, and I handed the police the first registration card I found assuming only that car’s registration would be in the car. Apparently the registration was for a red SUV while I drive a black car. The report was done under the red SUV.

    Is there any way for me to fix this? Could it mean that I will not end up being compensated for any damage done to my car?

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  33. cheryl Gardner says:

    My son hit a pedestian while using my car.

    The pedestrian walked away from the accident and did not appear to be injured. However, he filed a claim on my insurance, and the pedestrian was compensated with a settlement of the full coverage. Now almost 2 years later, the pedestrian is suing my son and my ex-spouse who was on the title.

    Is this legal?

    • I recommend that you send the summons and complaint to your insurance company. The insurance company has an obligation to defend your family members in a suit no matter how groundless. You might also want to get a local attorney involved in your discussions with the insurance company.

      As a general rule, if the injured person settles and signs a release, that ends the matter. However, you need to review this development with both your insurance and an attorney. I cannot provide legal advice on this.

      Good luck.

  34. David S says:

    I lent my car to my friend, and a tire flew off hitting another vehicle.

    I told him before he borrowed my car he was 100% responsible for anything that happened while the vehicle was in his possession.

    Does my insurance pay because it was my tire off my vehicle or does he pay because he was driving?

    • You should check with a local attorney and your insurance company. My answer below is based on New York law.

      Generally, the owner is liable. Your insurance will cover this accident.

      If your friend has his own insurance, it may also cover. Therefore, you should check with your insurance company as well as a local lawyer.

      Be sure to notify your insurance company as soon as possible.

      Good luck.

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