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My Car Accident Story (Part I)

Part I: Liability

I’m posting my story for two reasons: One, it can be used as a bit of a primer as to what to do after a car accident (take pictures, speak only to the police, be compliant with your medical treatment) and Two, because if you are in a Long Island car accident and hire me to represent you, you know that I have walked in your shoes.

It’s been over five years since my car accident and now that the statute of limitations, which is three years from the date of accident in New York, has passed, I can tell you my story.

I will never forget that morning. It was a gorgeous, sunny day in July. I had just dropped my daughter off at day camp and I was on my way to District Court in Ronkonkoma to appear on arbitrations. I was driving my beloved Sasha. A 2011 Venetian Red Hyundai Sonata. Fancy cars aren’t my thing and I leased Sasha after hearing how well the car performed in crash tests.

During rush hour, I normally take the Long Island Expressway Service Road to points west. This day was no different. Despite all the lights, I like the scenery on the Service Road. That morning, I was actually marveling that all my lights were green, in my favor, and it was smooth sailing past the Zebra Technologies building. On my approach to the next intersection, Holbrook Road, I could see the green light as I made my way downhill.

Things start to get a little hazy here. I know I got about halfway through the northbound lane on Holbrook Road when I felt a huge BAM!!!!!!!!! on my front driver’s side quarter panel. The myriad of airbags inflated to my side and in front of me, and then quickly deflated. I could feel a searing pain in my left arm. My car stopped dead short. The next thing I saw was probably the scariest slow-motion scene I have ever watched: the car that I assumed hit mine rolled over the hood of my car from driver’s side to passenger side, and then rolled over again onto its roof in the southbound lane of Holbrook Road, where it came to a rest.

After more than five years, I don’t remember exactly how I got out of my car. I don’t know if someone opened my door or if I managed to get it open myself. I know I was alternately crying from pain and screaming in horror because I honestly did not know if I had the green or if the light turned red and I had just killed someone. I do know that once I got out of the car, a man was right behind me yelling “You had the green! You had the green!” Upon hearing this, I gave this man a huge hug as I continued to cry. The hugging did not last long as I needed to know what happened to the driver and passengers, if any, in the other vehicle, a Toyota RAV4, who were still upside down. People who were near the Toyota were shouting that there was a baby in its carrier in the back seat. Of course, there went the water works again. I had just dropped my baby safely off at camp and here was this little soul, who’s condition was unknown. Upon hearing that the baby was ok, my knees went weak.

Once the driver of the offending vehicle got out of the car, she started yelling at me, asking “What in hell [was I] doing????!!!!!!!!!!” I got out of mom mode and into lawyer mode and held my words back. I knew the best thing to do was not to respond to her and to give my statement to the police, who had arrived on the scene. I was very lucky that three witnesses gave statements as well, as I still could not remember clearly having the green. As I look back, I may have had mild shock and as a result, the events immediately before the accident were a complete blur. Those witnesses were crucial. Most people decide not to stick around even when they have witnessed an accident, especially during morning rush hour. Witnesses are crucial to a car accident case, especially when the accident occurs in an intersection. This is because with no witnesses, liability will invariably come down to a “question of lights”, with each operator insisting they had the green and the other vehicle had the red.

All three witnesses in my accident told the police pretty much the same thing: I had the green and the RAV4 ran the light, T-boning my car. MY CAR! My Sasha! It was mangled, crushed. I took at least 25 photos with my Smart Phone of my poor car. I photographed every angle I could. My arm and left shoulder, however, starting hurting me too much and ambulances had arrived to assess injuries. I had to leave my car to the tow truck operator. It was the last time I would see Sasha, who was declared totaled by my insurance company. Sasha did everything promised. She handled beautifully and kept me as safe as possible in light of the incredibly hard impact she took to the driver’s side.

As a result, my car was totaled. My insurance company paid me for a rental and covered my collision damage.

Thanks for reading! Stay tuned for part 2. I’ll be discussing my injuries and treatment from my Long Island car accident.

Client Reviews
★★★★★
What do I think about Jeena? Well, she is just awesome. In all seriousness, I have known Jeena for several years through the Greater NYC legal community and have worked with her on matters. She is a knowledgeable, compassionate and passionate advocate. I recommend her without hesitation. Cari Rincker
★★★★★
Jeena Belil has been instrumental with retrieving payments for no fault claims that were either short paid or not paid at all to me as a provider. As a Personal Injury Attorney, she has helped several of my patients during the worst time in their life after a motor vehicle accident. I do not hesitate to call her for her services and definitely recommend her to anyone who would need her expertise. Kris Johnston
★★★★★
I know Jeena as a colleague through several solo and small firm attorney listservs. She is consistently responsive to inquiries and ready to share her expertise and insight to help others. God forbid I'm ever in an accident in New York, but if I am I will be calling Jeena. Deborah Matthews