NYC Car Crash Resources
Medical, legal, and other help for pedestrians and bicyclists struck by cars
This noncommercial Web site was compiled by a cyclist, pedestrian, and occasional driver concerned by the lack of official guidance on how to handle a car crash in New York City. For practical reasons, it focuses on a single city.
But readers throughout New York State may find the site useful in accessing the No-Fault and Motor Vehicle Accident Indemnification Corporation (MVAIC) insurance programs. Readers in other states may find the links to general medical and legal expertise of use. (Please note that the site has no connection to or affiliation with the City of New York or other government agency.)
The best way to use this site is to read it before you need it. Automobile insurance is confounding, and there are virtually no official published sources or industry-produced guides for pedestrians and cyclists. Additionally, being in a car crash can interfere with one’s judgment.
If you must access this site in a hurry, scan the page and section headings to get the overall picture. Ask someone to read the site in depth for you. Even if you hire an attorney, it’s a good idea to understand something about the legal and medical procedures.
If you find this process frustrating, so did I; it took me six months to untangle it. Out of concern for misrepresentation, I have not reduced any steps to list form (apart from the wallet card. Although this card is not comprehensive, it can help remind you of what’s needed on the spot.)
The site’s main point is this: Medical insurance for car crash victims is available thanks to New York State law. But the programs are hiding in plain sight. And all responsibility for navigating the system currently falls on the crash victim him or herself.
If these insurance programs were better known and utilized, the true costs of automobile use could be more accurately accounted for. Perhaps our leaders, especially those in law enforcement, would more strenuously enforce traffic laws and reduce the harm on our roads.
All traffic casualties can be prevented or mitigated through our own effort and behavior, individually and as a society. Simply lowering the speed limit on city streets to 20 mph would prevent hundreds of serious casualties, while reducing noise and stress levels in our neighborhoods.
Calmer streets would benefit careful drivers as well as daydreaming teenagers, strolling seniors, hard-charging commuters, dawdling bicyclists, dachshunds straining for the dog run, Con Ed workers planted in manholes, schoolchildren swarming the curb, doormen eying their domains, and anyone else who walks, runs, works, lives in, or passes through the city.
They would even benefit the angry driver on a mission from hell, by forestalling her heart attack for another day, or by preventing his near-fatal collision with another human being.
The consequences of unruly and reckless driving on our dense streets are staggering. Nearly 11,000 pedestrians, and 3,500 cyclists, were injured in 73,000 car crashes in the five boroughs in 2011. That’s 41 people physically harmed every day simply getting from Point A to Point B without an automobile—in a city that relies on mass and alternative transit. This excludes people who don’t report injuries or don’t recognize them until later. (And 55,000 drivers and passengers.)
Most disturbingly, about 180 cyclists and peds continue to be killed by cars each year—that’s a death about every other day. It’s as if we were waging civil war upon ourselves in a far-flung country where no one was paying attention.
Lack of communication is one problem that this site strives to address— provisionally, at least. Bear in mind that the information compiled here was gleaned from broadly scattered sources—some official, some commercial—and from personal interviews. It may be incomplete, outdated, or inaccurate. Because the site concerns general principles, not particular circumstances, it is for informational purposes only and is not legal advice. Readers should double-check citations and seek expert advice before making any decision.
Take responsibility now for a better and safer world.—The Dalai Lama