The first snowfall of the season in New York City occurs on average by Dec. 14. Whether the snow stays on the ground or melts, traffic will be messy and accidents will be plenty. What should you do if you find yourself in an accident?

First and foremost, you must stop. You must give aid if a driver, passenger or bystander is injured. You must call police or 911. If you leave the scene before police arrive, a warrant could be issued for your arrest.

If you hit a parked car or someone’s pet and no one is around, you should try to find the owner. If no owner is evident, the state Department of Motor Vehicles says you should call the police.

The $1,000 threshold

If there is more than $1,000 in damage, you must fill out Form MV-104, a report of a motor vehicle accident. You have 10 days to fill out this form.

If there aren’t any injuries and there isn’t much damage, exchange names, license numbers, phone numbers and insurance company information with the other driver.

Some more good information to collect

After you’ve exchanged information with the other car’s owner, it’s a good idea to gather some more information while you’re waiting for police to arrive:

  • Any passengers in the other car
  • Any witnesses to the accident
  • Traffic conditions
  • Weather condition
  • Draw a diagram of the scene
  • Take photos if you can do so.

What to tell your insurance company

You are required to report the accident to your insurance company within 30 days of the accident, but it’s a better idea to report it as soon as possible. New York is one of 12 no-fault insurance states, which means your insurance company will cover your damages no matter who was at fault.

An insurance adjustor will look at all the information available about your accident and then likely offer you a settlement. You are not required to accept any settlement. If you can’t reach an agreement with the adjustor, you can talk to the adjustor’s supervisor or you can file a lawsuit.

Insurance companies are required to cover your medical and economic losses up to $50,000, and they are not required to provide money for pain and suffering. To recover more than $50,000 or to recoup any losses due to pain and suffering, you may need to file a lawsuit.