What Steps Should I Take After a Car Accident in New Jersey?
An accident will spark your flight or fight response, sending your mind racing as adrenaline courses through your body. Understandably, it’s difficult to remain calm after a serious wreck. However, take a deep breath, assess the situation, and consider your actions carefully. Not only could taking the right steps at the scene save someone’s life, but it could also help you avoid mistakes that might otherwise harm your car accident claim.
In New Jersey, you have the option to file a claim with your own insurer—provided you have the appropriate coverage—or against the other motorist’s provider. Regardless of the type of claim you bring, there are many reasons why the insurance company might dispute aspects of your case. This might happen, for instance, if you did not seek treatment immediately after the accident, you failed to follow your doctor’s orders, or you posted about your case on social media.
With this in mind, let’s take a look at a few steps you should always take after a car accident:
Step 1: Contact Authorities
If you or anyone else requires urgent medical care, you should immediately dial 911. Police will attend the scene to direct traffic and investigate what happened. Officers will compile an official report documenting details about the wreck such as any deaths, injuries, property damage, and eyewitness statements. They may also include their own observations on who or what was responsible for the crash. Typically, the insurer will want to see the official accident report before approving your claim. Your attorney may also use this document to help guide their investigation.
Step 2: Exchange Insurance Information
Drivers involved in an accident are required to exchange insurance information with one another. However, when requesting this information, you should avoid making any statements about the cause of the accident. Be sure to take note of the other driver’s license number, plate number, and vehicle model.
Step 3: Collect Evidence at the Scene
If you are able to do so, you should grab your phone or camera and start taking pictures of the accident scene. Try photographing the damage sustained by the vehicles involved, road markings, nearby street signs, the weather conditions, and the injuries you suffered. While your attorney will conduct his or her own investigation into the wreck, these kinds of evidence may disappear just a few hours after you’ve left the scene. If there is anyone who saw the accident take place, you should take down their contact details to share with your New Jersey car accident lawyer. Additionally, writing a description of the accident could help you recall specific details that might help prove your claim.
Step 4: Report the Accident to Your Insurer
While you do not have a legal obligation to report the car wreck to your insurer, you will want to do so within a reasonable timeframe after the accident. If you do not notify your provider, it’s likely that your claim will be denied as you did not adhere to the terms of your policy.
Additionally, if the crash resulted in the injury or death of any person and/or caused $500 or more in property damage, you are required to report the accident to the New Jersey State Police, the nearest office of the county police, or the local police department. You will also have to file a written report using the state’s self-reporting crash form within 10 days of the accident. Failure to do so could result in fines and court fees.
Discuss Your Claim with a Car Accident Attorney in New Jersey Today
If you were seriously hurt in a wreck, the personal injury attorneys at Clark Law Firm might be able to help you with your claim. From gathering evidence and building your case to overseeing settlement negotiations and dialogue with the insurer, we can assist at each step of proceedings. To schedule a free consultation, dial 1-877-841-8855 or complete our Online Contact Form.