Actions you take after a New Jersey or Pennsylvania car accident will determine how your claim will proceed. Get help from a qualified car accident attorney today.
What to do after a car accident in New Jersey or Pennsylvania
Every year thousands of car accidents take place in the state of New Jersey. While most of these accidents pertain to property damage of the vehicle, there are an astounding amount of crashes that cause injury to the person(s) involved. If you have never been in a car accident, you may not know where to begin or what steps you should take following the collision.
If you or someone you know has been involved in a car accident in New Jersey or Pennsylvania, it’s important to know what to do following the crash to protect yourself and your interests.
The following steps should be taken after a collision to prepare a successful claim and obtain the appropriate compensation from the insurance company.
- Stop your vehicle immediately.
It’s important never to drive away or flee from a crash scene, even if it is minor. If you are in a minor accident, New Jersey law does require you to stop your car and move it out of the flow of traffic while keeping the vehicle as close to the crash site as possible. The penalties for leaving the scene of an accident in NJ can include fines of $200 to as much as $15,000, plus a suspended license and prison sentence of up to 5 years.
- Call 911
After the collision, you must call the police to let them know that there has been an auto accident. Be sure to let the operator know the exact location of the scene and report any injuries if an ambulance is needed. Even if your auto accident is minor, you should call the police. New Jersey law requires that any accident involving death, injury, property damage of more than $500 must be reported immediately. Even a very minor fender bender can cause thousands of dollars of damage that cannot be seen until a mechanic inspects the vehicle. Failure to call the police can cause the police to issue you a summons (ticket)!
Once the police arrive, they will make an accident report, so every detail of the collision should be disclosed to the best of your ability. If you do not remember specific facts, inform the officer that you are unsure.
If they ask you if you have been injured, it can be beneficial to say “I don’t know” rather than no - often, it can take hours for pain or injuries to occur. The officer will take all drivers’ accounts of what happened, so make sure that reporting on both sides is accurate.
A detailed and accurate accident report is essential to your case because it can help build a more substantial insurance or legal claim.
- Gather Evidence
Be sure to gather as much evidence as you can to strengthen your claim or case. Evidence can include everything from taking photos to obtaining witnesses and getting their information, so they can corroborate your claim. If you have any visible injuries, be sure to take pictures of those as well. Definitely get the license plate registration, other driver(s) license info, and insurance company info.
- Medical Evaluation
As previously mentioned, auto accident injuries are not always noticeable right after the collision. Even if you think you are uninjured, it’s essential to be checked by a medical professional as soon as you can. Symptoms may not appear for days or weeks after the incident, and waiting this long to report them will make it difficult to prove that they resulted from the auto accident. A local Urgent Care is your best bet as the cost is significantly less than a Hospital Emergency Room. No matter how minor the injuries seem to be, document then in case they flair up at a later date. Insurance companies often deny injury claims based on the failure to document injuries early on.
- Call your insurance company (1st see # 6 below)
Even if you don’t intend to file an insurance claim, you should still report the accident to your insurance company. It may take a few weeks to notice something wrong with your vehicle, and just like personal injury, it may be hard to prove that damage or malfunction resulted from an unreported accident.
If the responsible party is underinsured, or even worse, has no insurance, your own insurance company will be footing the bill for your accident. This does not mean that your payout sum is not subject to negotiation and lowering by your insurance company. We recommend that you seek legal representation to negotiate with any (even your own) insurance company effectively. The Insurance companies will record your call/statement to use for or against you at a later date. An attorney can guide you through the process.
- Call a car accident attorney
It’s important to protect your rights during this devastating time. YES, you paid for your auto insurance and the assumption is that the auto insurance company will treat you fairly, but the slogans like “you have a piece of the rock”, their your “good neighbors” or “you're in good hands” are great when the insurance companies have their hands in your pockets (when you pay your premiums), but when the insurance company has to pay you, the jingles change drastically. Insurance companies are in business to make money, not to be fair and pay claims. You need someone on your side that knows how to make the insurance company's (even your own company) treat you fairly. Our New Jersey and Pennsylvania auto accident attorneys work extensively to build a solid case to support you and obtain the highest compensation possible. And there are no fees or costs unless the attorney is successful in obtaining a money resolution for you.
If you have been injured in an auto accident in New Jersey, call us toll-free at (800) 853-1000 or fill out an online contact form to receive a free consultation on your legal rights.