woman stressed after a car accident

What Should You Document Immediately After a Car Accident?

In the chaotic aftermath of a car accident, emotions run high, and it can be challenging to think clearly. However, documenting the scene promptly can be crucial for protecting your rights and building a strong personal injury claim. As seasoned personal injury attorneys in New York, we understand the importance of gathering pertinent information immediately after a car accident. Here, we will outline the key elements you should document to ensure a solid foundation for your case.

Immediate Steps After a Car Accident:

Before documenting anything after a car accident, prioritize safety. Check yourself, passengers, and others involved for injuries. If there are serious injuries, call 911 for immediate medical assistance. Documenting the scene comes after ensuring everyone’s well-being.

Here are some steps you should take to properly document after a car accident:

  1. Exchange Information: Exchange essential information with the other parties involved. Obtain names, addresses, phone numbers, and insurance information. If there are witnesses, collect their contact details as well. This information will be vital when filing an insurance claim or pursuing legal action.
  2. Photograph the Scene: Capture the accident scene from various angles. Include photographs involved, their positions, and any visible damages. Document road conditions, traffic signals, and relevant signage. These images serve as valuable evidence in establishing the circumstances of the accident.
  3. Capture License Plates: Photograph the license plates of all vehicles involved in the accident. This helps identifying and locating the parties later if needed. It is a simple yet effective way to ensure accurate information for your records.
  4. Note Environmental Conditions: Document weather conditions, lighting, and any environmental factors that may have contributed to the accident. In New York, where weather conditions can vary, this information can be crucial in establishing liability.
  5. Document Injuries: If you sustain visible injuries, document them with photographs. Additionally, seek prompt medical attention even if injuries appear minor. Medical records serve as crucial evidence linking your injuries to the accident.
  6. Record Statements: While still at the scene, if possible, obtain statements from witnesses. Ask them to describe what they say, and record their account. Witness statements can play a significant role in corroborating your version of events.
  7. Obtain Police Report: Contact law enforcement to report the accident and obtain a copy of the police report. This official document includes details about the accident, statements from involved parties, and any traffic violations. The police report is a key piece of evidence in insurance claims and legal proceedings.
  8. Seek Medical Attention: Even if injuries seem minor, seek medical attention promptly. Document all medical visits, treatments, and prescriptions related to the accident. This comprehensive medical documentation strengthens your personal injury claim by establishing the extent of your injuries and the associated expenses.
  9. Contact Your Insurance Company: Inform your insurance company about the accident as soon as possible. Provide them with accurate and detailed information. Promptly reporting the incident is crucial for a smooth claims process.

Personal Injury Attorneys

The moments following a car accident are critical, and documenting the scene thoroughly is essential for your well-being and any potential legal action. By following these steps and collecting crucial information, you can protect yourself and build a strong personal injury claim. For trusted personal injury legal assistance you can count on, reach out to the dedicated team at CDH Law. Contact us today.

Man driving while on his phone

Distracted Driving and Head Injuries: Pursuing Claims Against Negligent Drivers

Distracted driving is a growing concern on Syracuse roads, leading to many accidents each year. Among the most severe outcomes of these incidents are head injuries, which can have life-changing effects. At CDH Law, our Syracuse car accident lawyers understand the challenges those injured by distracted drivers face on the road to recovery. This blog will guide you through pursuing claims against negligent drivers, focusing on critical steps you can take to protect your rights and set yourself up for a successful case.

What Do You Have to Prove in a Distracted Driving Claim?

Plaintiffs need to prove a few key points in a distracted driving claim. First, they must prove that the driver was distracted, whether by texting, using a phone, eating, or any other activity that took their focus off the road. This involves gathering evidence like phone records, witness statements, or video footage.

Next, it’s crucial to demonstrate that the driver’s distraction directly caused the accident and resulting injuries. This means connecting the dots between the driver’s lack of attention and the crash.

Lastly, plaintiffs must clearly outline their losses from the accident, such as medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Proving these elements is often a challenge, but it’s essential for holding the negligent driver accountable and securing the compensation you need for your recovery. Having a skilled legal team by your side can make all the difference in working through this complex process.

Common Causes of Distracted Driving Accidents

Driving distractions come in many forms, especially as automakers add new technological innovations to their vehicles. Some common causes of Syracuse distracted driving accidents include:

  • Texting while driving
  • Talking on the phone
  • Using GPS or navigation apps
  • Adjusting music or radio controls
  • Eating or drinking
  • Talking to passengers
  • Grooming or applying makeup
  • Watching videos
  • Daydreaming or being lost in thought
  • Handling pets or children in the car

Evidence to Help Prove a Distracted Driving Claim

Proving a distracted driving claim hinges on presenting clear, compelling evidence of the other driver’s negligent behavior. Here are some common types of evidence used in these cases:

  • Cell phone records: These can show if the driver was texting, calling, or using data at the time of the accident.
  • Police report: Officers often make notes of their observations or any admissions of distraction at the scene, which provides an official account of events.
  • Witness statements: Bystanders or passengers might have seen the driver using a phone or engaging in other distractions, offering valuable insights.
  • Video footage: Dashcams, surveillance cameras, or traffic cams can capture the driver’s actions just before the crash, providing visual proof of distraction.
  • Physical evidence: Items found in the car just after the crash, like an open food container or a mobile device set up for a video, can suggest distracting activities.
  • Social media activity: Posts or activity logs can indicate whether the driver was using social media when the accident occurred.
  • Expert testimony: Specialists in accident reconstruction can help link the evidence to the driver’s distraction, reinforcing the case.

Potential Compensation in a Distracted Driving Claim

The value of a distracted driving claim depends on your injuries, medical bills, how much money you lose from not being able to work, and other factors. It’s essential to work with an experienced attorney who can help you pursue maximum compensation for your losses. Your distracted driving claim could include compensation for:

  • Medical bills
  • Lost wages and other income
  • Reduced future earnings due to a disability
  • Pain and suffering
  • Psychological distress, including PTSD
  • Diminished quality of life
  • Damaged personal property

Deadline to File a Distracted Driving Lawsuit in New York

New York law allows only three years from the date of the accident for you to file a distracted driving lawsuit against the at-fault party. If you wait too long to act, you could lose your right to pursue compensation in court.

Contact Our Syracuse Distracted Driving Accident Attorneys Now

If you suffered head trauma or sustained other severe injuries in a distracted driving accident, the team at CDH Law could be your champions in your fight for justice. Call us today or complete our contact form for a free consultation.

Insurance agent speaking with a car accident client

Is It Possible to File a Claim After a Car Accident as an Uninsured Driver?

Did you recently suffer injuries in a car accident in New York while you were driving without insurance? If so, you might wonder whether you can still file a claim against the at-fault driver. Here’s what you need to know.

New York Insurance Requirements

In New York, all drivers must have auto insurance that meets specific minimum requirements. These requirements include $25,000 in bodily injury liability coverage per person, $50,000 in bodily injury liability coverage per accident, and $10,000 in property damage liability coverage per accident. Additionally, New York requires motorists to carry $50,000 in personal injury protection (PIP) insurance and uninsured motorist coverage for bodily injury.

You can face harsh penalties if you drive without auto insurance in New York. These can include steep fines, vehicle impoundment, and the suspension of your driver’s license and vehicle registration. Repeated offenses can lead to even harsher consequences.

New York follows a no-fault auto insurance system. This means that drivers are expected to file insurance claims against their own policies after a car accident, no matter who caused the accident. If you drive without insurance and get into an accident, you might get stuck paying out-of-pocket for your medical bills and other crash-related expenses.

What Are Your Options as an Uninsured Driver in Syracuse?

Driving without insurance puts you at a significant disadvantage if an accident happens. However, you might still have a few ways to recover compensation, such as:

  • Filing a Claim Against the At-Fault Driver’s Insurance: If another driver causes an accident that leaves you with serious injuries, their insurance might cover your medical bills and a portion of your lost income. You must show that the other driver was at fault when you file this type of claim.
  • Suing the At-Fault Driver Directly: If the other driver’s insurance doesn’t fully cover your costs, or if you’re having trouble with their insurance, you could take the driver to court. This can be a lengthy and complex process, so it’s best to hire a lawyer.
  • Checking Your Credit Card: If the accident happened while you were driving a rental car, the credit card you used to make the purchase might provide group insurance coverage. Check your terms for details.
  • Filing a No-Fault Claim Through a Household Family Member’s Insurance: If you live with a family member who has auto insurance, their policy might cover you under New York’s no-fault insurance rules. This coverage can pay for your medical expenses and a part of your lost wages.
  • Submitting a Claim to MVAIC: New York’s Motor Vehicle Accident Indemnification Corporation (MVAIC) could provide compensation if you don’t have insurance and can’t get covered under a household family member’s policy. You must meet specific requirements to get compensation from the MVAIC, like reporting the accident quickly and filing your claim within strict deadlines.
  • Using Your Health Insurance: Your health insurance policy can cover your medical bills after an accident if no auto insurance is available. However, you might have to pay out-of-pocket costs like deductibles or copays.
  • Seeking Help from State or Charitable Programs: Some charitable organizations offer financial assistance to those hurt in car accidents. They might help with your medical expenses even if you don’t have auto insurance.

If these options don’t work for you, you might have to pay for your medical treatment and other crash-related expenses out of pocket. This can get expensive, so it’s usually the last resort. A Syracuse accident injury lawyer can review your situation and help you explore your options.

Contact a Central New York & Syracuse Accident Lawyer Today

If you were hurt in a car accident while driving without insurance in Syracuse, New York, determining your next steps can be hard – but you don’t have to make them alone. Call Carden Dotzler Hammond, PLLC, today for a free initial consultation, and let’s discuss how we can help you move forward.

injured woman

When an Accident Affects Your Marriage, Your Spouse May Be Able to Collect 

Accidents can have a profound impact on individuals and their families, extending beyond physical injuries to affect emotional and relational aspects of life. This blog delves into the legal concept of ‘loss of consortium’ in New York State, which recognizes the non-economic hardships faced by spouses when their partner is injured. If an accident negatively impacts the marital relationship, the unaffected spouse might have grounds to seek compensation for the intangible losses, such as companionship, affection, and sexual relations.

Loss of Consortium: Can My Spouse Collect If an Accident Affects Our Marriage?

In New York, accident victims and their loved ones may be entitled to compensation for various damages, including “loss of consortium.” Loss of consortium damages recognize the intangible damages your spouse can suffer after you have been injured in an accident. It refers to the deprivation of the benefits of a spousal relationship. This can include companionship, affection, comfort, and support. While personal injury claims traditionally focus on the injured party’s physical and financial losses, loss of consortium acknowledges that an injured party’s spouse can also feel impacts.

While New York recognizes the right of a spouse to seek damages for loss of consortium, establishing a claim for loss of consortium requires proof that the injury has significantly affected the quality and nature of the relationship. Both the impact on the relationship and the duration of the impact will be considered in a loss of consortium claim. It must be shown how the injury has altered the dynamics of the relationship. This can include presenting evidence of diminished companionship, emotional support, and intimacy. The duration of the impact is another key factor. Temporary disruptions may not suffice to support a claim, whereas long-term or permanent changes in the relationship are more likely to be considered.

In some cases, expert testimony may be necessary to establish the extent of the impact on the relationship. Mental health professionals or marriage counselors may be called upon to provide insights into the emotional toll the injury has taken on the family. Additionally, it can be helpful to keep detailed records of changes in your relationship, including communication, shared activities, and emotional well-being to act as valuable pieces of evidence to strengthen your loss of consortium claim. Photographs, videos, and witness statements can also be compelling pieces of evidence.

Central New York Personal Injury Attorneys

It is important for victims and their loved ones to be aware of the damages available to them in seeking compensation after a loved one has been injured in an accident. New York allows spouses of accident victims to seek compensation for loss of consortium and, in doing so, acknowledges the profound impact an accident can have on the spousal relationship. If you or a loved one has suffered injuries in an accident, do not delay in reaching out to the knowledgeable personal injury team at CDH Law to help ensure you are fairly compensated for the harm you have suffered. Contact us today.

dash cam

Is Dash Cam Footage Admissible in Court?

Dash cam footage is becoming more and more popular in vehicles. As a result, there have been questions on whether or not dash cam footage can be used as evidence for a case. After all, dash cam footage could be compelling evidence of fault and the extent of damages sustained in an automobile accident injury case. Let’s take a look at whether dash cam footage is admissible in court.

Can I Use Dash Cam Footage in My Personal Injury Case?

An increasing number of people are opting to install dash cams in their vehicles in the hopes of the recording device working to protect their legal rights and act as evidence of fault in the event of a car crash occurring. Dash cams are video recording devices. Sometimes they come with audio recordings as well. They are installed in vehicles and will start recording automatically when the vehicle is turned on. Most commonly, they are hardwired directly into the vehicle’s electrical system. The recorded video is stored on an SD card.

New York permits the use of dash cams as there are no specific laws on the books that would prohibit their use. While they are generally considered to be legal, however, there are still a few things to keep in mind before you install one in your own vehicle. First, it is always prudent to check with local authorities to make sure that they are permitted in your area. There may be some local laws or regulations that may prohibit the use of dash cams. Furthermore, you should be mindful that dash cams will be subject to the same rules and regulations that are applicable to other forms of video recording in the state of New York. For instance, in New York, it may be illegal to record someone without their consent depending on the circumstances. Generally speaking, however, if your dash cam is focused on the roadway as opposed to being aimed at recording specific people, you should not run afoul of these privacy laws.

While a dash cam may be legal and make a legal recording, this does not necessarily mean that the video footage will be admissible in court. It is important to first make it clear that dash cam footage may be admissible in court, but the video footage must first be deemed accurate and dependable. It must also be determined that the footage has not been altered in any way. You will need to make a statement under oath that the footage is authentic and is an accurate portrayal of what occurred in the accident. Should you lie or omit key facts, you can be charged with perjury.

Central New York Personal Injury Attorneys

At CDH Law, our team launches detailed investigations into your accident and injury claim. This includes reviewing relevant evidence, including dash cam footage. We do this so we can provide you with the best in trusted legal representation. Contact us today.

Ask the Attorney: I was on my phone at the time of an accident—does that mean I’m automatically at fault?

Sometimes, who is at fault for causing a car accident is unclear. In fact, both drivers may have played a part in causing the accident. If this is the case, New York’s comparative negligence law is likely to come into play. While New York is a no-fault state, comparative negligence is often a confusing concept for both sides of an accident. This blog will give an overview of comparative negligence.

If You Were on Your Phone at the Time of the Accident, Are You at Fault in New York?

Being in a car accident can be traumatic. It can also be stressful and complicated. On top of dealing with accident injuries and everything else, you may be worried about who will be at fault for causing the accident. This may be especially true if you were on the phone at the time of the accident. After all, New York does recognize this to be dangerous driving behavior. In fact, New York law mandates that all drivers use hands-free devices when talking on cell phones and driving. Furthermore, texting and other comparable usage of handheld messaging devices is prohibited for all drivers.

As being on your phone and driving has been recognized as a risky driving behavior, it may very well be the case that you are found to be at least partially at fault for causing any subsequent accident. You will not, however, be found to be automatically at fault for causing the accident. Fault is a fact-specific determination that requires weighing all of the circumstances surrounding the accident. You being on your phone will only be one such factor.

So, what does fault determination have to do with available compensation after an accident? Well, New York is a no-fault state. That means drivers carry no-fault insurance which will provide insurance coverage for things like medical costs and lost wages following an accident regardless of who was at fault for causing the accident. If your no-fault insurance is insufficient to properly compensate you for the damages you sustained in the accident, you may be considering going after the insurance coverage of the other driver. This is where fault for the accident would come into play.

You may be found to be partially at fault for causing the accident because you were on your phone. Fortunately, this does not mean you will be barred from recovering from the other at-fault driver. New York is a pure comparative negligence state. This means that an injured person can recover against another person found to be partially at fault for causing an accident. This means that even if you are found to be 50% or more at fault for an accident, you will still be able to recover against the other at-fault driver. Your damage award will, however, be reduced by the percentage of fault you are assigned by the jury.

Central New York Personal Injury Attorneys

If you were on your phone at the time of a New York car accident, do not give up hope. You are still likely to have options for recovering full and fair compensation for the harm you have suffered. Reach out to the team at CDH Law. Contact us today.

Personal Injury Claims in a Hit and Run Accident—What Should I Do?

A hit and run accident can be very traumatic and, often, accident victims don’t know what their next step should be. Here, we will go into the next steps of a hit and run accident.

Steps to Immediately Take After a Hit and Run Accident

The steps you take immediately following an accident can be critical to protecting your legal rights to seek compensation for the harm you have suffered and to help ensure you properly heal from your accident injuries. The situation may be even more complicated following a hit and run accident since you may not be able to pursue insurance benefits from someone else for your losses.

After a hit and run accident, make sure you get yourself to a safe place. Lingering in the roadway can lead to further incidences on top of what you have already been through. Call 911 so that police are dispatched to the scene and, should anyone need medical assistance, emergency medical personnel as well. In the meantime, take pictures of the accident scene and document as much as possible. Get the names and contact information of any witnesses to the accident.

You should also make sure to write down any details of the accident that you remember while your memories are still fresh. Did you note any identifying characteristics of the vehicle or vehicle driver that hit you? Did you notice the make and model of their car? Write everything down. Even the smallest of details can help law enforcement track down the vehicle that hit you and fled the scene.

You should also be sure to contact your insurance carrier. You are contractually obligated to do so and will need to notify them of the accident in order for your coverage to kick in. If the at-fault driver who fled the scene is never identified, you will come to rely even more on your own insurance coverage to compensate you for your accident damages. If you have uninsured motorist coverage (UM) these benefits should kick in to help cover your expenses since the unidentified hit and run driver was not found. You see, UM coverage is not just available when you are in an accident caused by an uninsured driver. It is also available in the event of a hit and run accident where the other party fled the scene and was never identified.

We know this seems like a lot, but you can do it. These are all things that will be critical to your pursuit of a personal injury claim. To help ensure that you are properly compensated for your injuries and that you properly recover from your injuries, go seek emergency medical treatment and comply with your doctor’s recommended follow-up treatment paths. This will help you properly recover from your injuries and also provide medical evidence of your accident injuries which will be vital in your personal injury claim.

Central New York Personal Injury Attorneys

If you have been in a hit and run accident, you do not have to do this alone. The team at CDH Law is here for you. Contact us today.

drowsy driving

The Dangers of Tired Drivers

In a society that never seems to stop, it is no wonder that tired drivers plague our roads every day. We seem to be busier than ever and encouraged to push ourselves beyond our limits. The result? People seem to be more fatigued than ever. Fatigue can have devastating impacts on our health, quality of life, and our safety. Consider, for instance, the dangers of tired drivers pose to the rest of us on the road. Let’s take a closer look at that here.

Drowsy Driving Puts Others at Risk

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has made a commitment to examining the dangers associated with drowsy driving and working to prevent such dangers from putting drivers at risk. NHTSA estimates that, in 2017 alone, there were 91,000 police-reported crashes that involved drowsy drivers. This, however, could be a severe underestimation. Those in the traffic safety, sleep science, and public health communities are in broad agreement that the actual number of those injured each year by drowsy drivers is likely much higher than estimates proclaim. This is due, in great part, to the fact that it is difficult for crash investigators to pin down drowsy driving as the cause of a car crash. They can look for drowsiness clues, but these are often elusive or inconclusive.

There are a number of dangers associated with drowsy driving. After all, drowsy drivers often have slower reaction times, struggle with reflexes, and have an inability to effectively identify dangers on the road in enough time to adequately respond to or avoid them. In this way, drowsy driving mimics driving while intoxicated. The impact drowsiness will have on a driver can also vary greatly depending on the amount of sleep that is lacking. Any level of drowsiness, however, can be dangerous and exponentially increase the likelihood of the drowsy driver causing a crash on the roadway.

Drowsiness has a clear impact on a person’s judgment. It also impacts their physical state of being. On top of all of this, lack of sleep can impact a person emotionally as well. It has been found that drowsy drivers can be more susceptible to sudden bursts of road rage than other, better-rested, calmer drivers.

To help avoid being a dangerous drowsy driver, make sure you are getting enough sleep. Avoid drinking any amount of alcohol before driving as this can exacerbate any fatigue you may already be feeling. You should also be sure to check any prescription medication or over-the-counter medication you may be taking as there may be drowsiness side effect warnings on these labels. It can also be best practice to avoid driving between what has been established as “peak sleepiness” periods. You are more likely to encounter fatigued drivers on the road between the hours of midnight and 6 a.m. and in the late afternoon.

Personal Injury Attorneys

Have you been injured in a crash caused by a drowsy driver? Reach out to the team at CDH Law for assistance enforcing your right to full and fair compensation. Contact us today.