Burlington Personal Injury Attorneys

More than 100 Years of Combined Experience

  1. Home
  2.  » 
  3. Articles
  4.  » Essential steps to take after a car accident in New Jersey

Essential steps to take after a car accident in New Jersey

New Jersey residents know how traumatic a car accident can be. The scene of an accident is often emotional with worry about potential serious injuries. There are several necessary steps a car accident victim should take after a car accident occurs.

How to protect yourself and your rights after a car accident

The most important things to do after an accident are as follows:

  1. Stay at the scene of the accident. If panic sets in, there may be a temptation to flee. However, if you are involved in the accident and leave the scene, you run the risk of being labeled a “hit-and-run” driver, which comes with serious consequences, including up to 180 days in jail. The penalties are even more severe for fatal accidents.
  2. Notify the police immediately. This ensures the accident scene will be documented. When reporting the accident, provide a detailed account of all known injuries and any vehicle damage. For your own purposes, record the names and badge numbers of all police officers who report to the scene.
  3. Take photographs of any injuries and vehicle damage. Also, record the time of the accident as well as current weather and traffic conditions. This helps protect your rights and also helps preserve your story.
  4. Talk to anyone who witnessed the accident and take their contact information.
  5. Gather contact information and other details from the other driver, including their:
    1. Driver’s license number
    2. License plate number
    3. Insurance information
    4. Vehicle description

When exchanging information, do not apologize to the other driver. This may be perceived as accepting blame for the accident.

Steps to take soon afterward

Once a police report is filed and appropriate information is gathered, notify an insurance company as soon as possible. Be truthful when giving information to the insurance company. Giving false information increases the risk of claim denial.

Obtain an estimate of vehicle damages from the insurance company. However, do not rely only on their estimate. Get at least two independent estimates. If an amount is not agreed upon, consult an attorney.

Visit a trusted family physician for a thorough physical examination. The physician may discover symptoms or injuries previously unnoticed. The physician can help develop an appropriate medical treatment plan if necessary.

Keep detailed records of all medical treatment received due to the accident. This facilitates the itemization of expenses for the insurance company and any legal action.

Although a car accident is often traumatizing, do not discuss the accident with anyone except the police, insurance company and a trusted attorney. Do not discuss the accident with any outside insurance companies under any circumstances.

What if it’s a hit-and-run accident?

It can be tricky for drivers to gather the information and evidence they need after hit-and-run crashes. Let’s say another driver crashes into you on the New Jersey Turnpike. Rather than pulling off on the shoulder to exchange information like they’re supposed to, they speed away, leaving you with a damaged vehicle, injuries and no idea how to hold them accountable. While the situation may seem hopeless at first, there are still things you can do to protect yourself and your rights.

Here are the steps to take after a hit-and-run:

  1. Move yourself and your vehicle to a safe location near the scene of the accident
  2. Call the police to report a hit-and-run and request emergency medical services if necessary
  3. Compile as much information as you can, including a description of the driver and vehicle if possible, photos of the scene and damage, and the contact information of any witnesses
  4. Provide the information you’ve gathered to the police so they can add it to their report
  5. Seek medical attention
  6. Alert your insurance company
  7. Speak to an attorney about your legal options

Depending on how much information you’re able to gather, it may be possible to track down the driver that caused the accident. If the driver can’t be located, the mandatory minimum uninsured motorist coverage you have through your insurance company can help you in the aftermath of the car crash.

The insurance company is looking out for themselves, not you

Finally, be wary if a settlement is offered by the insurance company. You’d think that the insurance company would make you a fair offer considering having coverage after a car accident is the reason we have and pay for insurance, but you’d be wrong. Unfortunately, insurance companies’ sole motivation is paying out as little money as possible to keep their coffers thoroughly lined.

Another thing to keep in mind is that although your initial injuries may be treated, they could result in long-term complications. Do not accept a settlement until compensation for all injuries is guaranteed and do not sign any settlement offer without consulting an attorney first.

An individual injured in a car accident can benefit from an experienced personal injury attorney. The attorney can ensure car accident victims’ rights are protected, and they get the maximum compensation they’re entitled to.