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What should you do if you have been in a New York car accident?

When you are involved in a car accident in Staten Island, your first emotions may be shock and fear. You may be worried about your injuries and the injuries of those around you. Once everyone's medical needs are attended to, you need to make sure that you properly report the accident. The state of New York has very specific rules for reporting an accident.

New York State Vehicle and Traffic Law requires that motorists involved in an accident exchange information with the other drivers involved. The next step will depend on the severity of the accident. If there is property damage but no injuries, information regarding driver's licenses, insurance and registration should be exchanged with the other drivers. If property nearby is damaged or a pet is injured, you must find the owner or call police.

If anyone involved in the crash has over $1,000 in property damage, all of the drivers in the accident need to file a Report of Motor Vehicle Accident with the DMV. The form must be filed within 10 days of the accident. If you do not file the form, the DMV may suspend your driver's license.

For more serious car accidents involving injuries or deaths, state law requires that you contact the police immediately. The police, as well as all drivers involved, must then submit an accident report to the DMV. Whatever you do, do not leave the scene of an accident involving injury or death.

The accident will be on the driving records of all of the drivers involved, but the DMV does not determine fault in an accident. This means that even if the accident is on your record, it doesn't mean you were at-fault. However, if you are involved in three or more reportable accidents over the course of 18 months, the DMV's Accident Re-examination Program may require you to come into the office for an interview and testing.

Source: New York Department of Motor Vehicles, "Motorist accident reports," accessed on Jan. 27, 2015

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Michael J. Gaffney, Attorney at Law
1164 Victory Blvd.
Staten Island, NY 10301

Phone: 347-286-1937
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