In 2018, an average of 28 pedestrians and 11 bicyclists were injured each day in New York City. And while the mayor’s “Vision Zero” initiative is making New York’s streets safer by lowering speed limits, installing more traffic signals, and introducing a range of safety devices such as speed bumps and LPIs (Leading Pedestrian Interval Signals), injuries to pedestrians and cyclists caused by motor vehicles remain troublingly high.
Here are our recommendations as to what to do if you – while on foot or riding a bicycle — are hit by a vehicle in New York City.
Immediately After Impact
Within seconds of being hit by a vehicle, your body will likely become a stationary object in what may be an active vehicle lane. Because there’s no guarantee that drivers approaching from behind are aware of your plight, it’s best to quickly move out of this lane toward the nearest sidewalk, where you can rest. Try to remain calm and still, even if you don’t feel pain. The physical trauma of being hit by a vehicle may cause your body to release large amounts of adrenaline, which can block pain signals, leading you to believe that your injuries are less serious than they actually are. Sit or lie still, breathe deeply, and move as little as possible to avoid making any non-obvious injuries worse in the first few minutes after your accident.
Provided that your phone is intact and you have the physical ability to do so, call 911, which will dispatch first responders – including police and EMS to your reported location. Don’t rely on others to make this important call.
After Help Arrives
When medical help arrives, let them attend to you, even if you believe that your injuries aren’t consequential. As mentioned earlier, your adrenaline levels may be elevated after your accident, leading you to feel stronger and better than you’ll likely feel as time passes.
If you feel confident that you can move around without further injuring yourself, try to document as much evidence as possible about the circumstances of your accident, or ask someone to help you do so. This evidence will be very important if and when you seek compensation for your injuries. Such evidence includes:
- Photographic evidence. If you’re able, use your mobile phone’s camera to document the scene of the accident from multiple angles, or get another person to do so for you. Take pictures of the vehicle that hit you, including its license plate, along with any signs of damage that you can see that are attributable to your accident.
- Police Evidence. After the police arrive, they will take statements from yourself and the driver of the vehicle in order to fill out an accident report, recording many details about the accident. Such details include a description of the site, identifying data on all parties involved, a description of injuries, and data about the vehicle owner’s insurance coverage. Before the police leave, ask them for the unique identifying number associated with the report that will be filed as you may need this information later. While you won’t be able to view the police report at this time, you can look it up – either at the precinct in which the accident site is located, or at the following website location: https://collisionreport.nypdonline.org/.
- Witnesses. If there were people who saw the accident and may be willing to testify in court, write down their contact information or enter this data into your mobile phone.
After the Accident
What you do in the days and weeks immediately following your being hit by a vehicle will have a big impact on how easy – or difficult – it will be to get compensation for your injuries.
Because New York is a “No-Fault” state, the cost of some – perhaps all – of your injuries will enjoy automatic coverage under New York’s No-Fault Law. This coverage – provided by the insurer of the vehicle that hit you – or, if that driver is uninsured, by your own auto insurance if you have it – provides for basic medical treatment (up to $50,000) and lost income (up to $2,000 per month). No-Fault insurance will not, however, compensate you for medical costs above $50,000, or for the pain and suffering you experienced as a result of your injury.
To enter a No-Fault claim, you’ll need to notify the No-Fault insurance carrier(s) covering the vehicle that hit you and/or your own carrier, and you must do so within 30 days of your accident. Include a copy of the police report. Once the insurance company receives this notification, it will return a formal application for No-Fault benefits to you, which you’ll need to complete and return promptly to the carrier. You can view such a form on the website of the New York State Department of Financial Services at: https://www.dfs.ny.gov/system/files/documents/2019/01/nofault_2.pdf