An unfortunate corollary to these tragic stories is that the families of those who suffer serious personal injuries or even wrongful death often fail to recoup funds that would otherwise be available to cover medical or funeral expenses for their loved ones, simply because they don't know with whom, where or by when they must file a claim, or how to avoid mistakes that will reduce the value of their claim. With that in mind, here's a list of the initial steps that should be taken as soon as possible after the accident:
- Identify All Witnesses to the Occurrence - since the insurance companies may well dispute that their insured was involved in the accident (or, in a more minor accident, that an accident with another vehicle even occurred), independent verification from a disinterested third party is very powerful evidence.
- Obtain Photographs of the Damage - likewise, photographs depicting damage to your vehicle or the accident scene will solidify your accident claim.
- Identify All Policies of Insurance That Are Potentially Applicable to the Claim - since New York's Motor Vehicle Accident Indemnification Corporation is the insurer of last resort, and also only affords minimal coverage, you must identify any and all other sources of recovery for the accident. Naturally, the first step would be, if possible, to ascertain whether anyone was able to take down the license plate number of the hit and run vehicle, and afterward identify whether anyone else involved in the accident had their own insurance policies which could be pursued.
- Notify All Insurers About the Claim or Potential Claim - although it should be relatively self-evident, unless you notify these insurers about the claim, they won't pay the claim.
For additional information about the general steps that should be taken to protect the viabilty of an accident claim, please see "The 10 Mistakes That Will Reduce the Value of Your Claim."