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 thing to remember is to stay at the scene. 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.
Always notify the police immediately after the accident. 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.
Those involved in the accident should also 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.
Additionally, learn the names of any witnesses to the accident. Gather contact information and other details from the other driver, including:
- Driver’s license number
- Plate number
- Insurance information
- Vehicle model
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 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.
Finally, be wary if a settlement is offered by the insurance company. Although initial injuries may be treated, remember that injuries can 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 provide needed guidance in the protection of a car accident victim’s legal rights.