Knowing what to do after a car accident can help you build a stronger insurance claim and move forward with your life. As a crash victim in New Jersey, you should take certain steps to protect your rights and improve the odds of receiving a settlement. If you suffered a life-changing or catastrophic injury, or someone you love died in an auto accident, contact an attorney for a free case review before proceeding with your case alone. You may need help from a Monmouth County car accident lawyer to obtain fair compensation for a serious collision.
Never drive off after colliding with someone else. The crime of hit-and-run in New Jersey can come with serious penalties, including felony charges and jail time. Stop at the scene or close to it, out of the way of traffic. Stay calm and protect the scene using traffic cones or flares, if you have them, to prevent further accidents.
Check yourself for injuries before stepping out of your vehicle. Take note of any unusual sensations, including tingling, numbness or soreness, in your body. If you feel severe pain in your back or cannot feel your legs, try not to move until an ambulance arrives. You could have a serious spinal cord injury. Moving the wrong way could make your injury worse. Call 911 and request an ambulance if this is the case. Otherwise, ask if anyone else involved in the crash has injuries as well.
It is the law in New Jersey to report an auto accident as a driver if it caused any personal injuries, deaths or vehicle damages of at least $500 to any party involved. The law requires you to report it to the local police department or the New Jersey State Police by the quickest means of communication possible – typically by cellphone. You also need to file a crash report to the New Jersey Department of Transportation within 10 days.
Once the police arrive, calmly tell your side of the story. Only state facts – what you know to be true. Remain polite, but do not admit fault to the other driver or the police. You might not fully understand what caused the accident yet, even if you think you are to blame. Admitting fault can halt any further investigation and give full liability to you, even if you were not solely at fault.
While still at the scene of the car accident, collect information, if you can. This can include the name and insurance information of the other driver, pictures of both vehicles, pictures of your injuries, a police report number, a description of the accident, names of eyewitnesses, and the time and place. You will need this information about your crash for an insurance claim.
Go to the hospital immediately after a car accident if you have any injuries. Immediate medical care is critical for your personal health as well as the strength of your claim to damages. Failing to go to the hospital right away could give an insurance company cause to deny your claim or reduce your compensatory award.
New Jersey is a no-fault car accident state. You will, therefore, file a damage claim with your own insurance provider, regardless of whether someone else caused your accident. You will only have grounds to bring a personal injury claim against the at-fault party if you suffered a serious or debilitating injury.
If your car accident case involves any unique factors, contact a lawyer for counsel before moving forward. You may be able to bring a different type of claim for better compensation. For example, if your injuries are serious enough to cause a disability or permanent disfigurement, you could have grounds for a personal injury lawsuit rather than an insurance claim alone. A Monmouth County personal injury lawyer can also help you with a case involving a drunk driver, hit-and-run accident or other broken traffic laws. Contact an attorney at our New Jersey law firm within two years of your accident to make sure you meet New Jersey’s statute of limitations.