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No one is ever really prepared for a crash, but knowing what to do (and what not to do) after a New Jersey car accident can have a lasting impact on your claim. The following aims to provide you with a road map of what to do and how to handle yourself to ensure your rights are protected and that you get the care and compensation you need.
Stay Calm and Check for Injuries
First, take a deep breath and try not to panic. Next, check yourself and the others involved for any injuries, and call an ambulance if there is any speculation of serious injury. If anyone is unconscious or immobile, do not move them unless it is absolutely necessary to save their life (e.g., they are in the middle of oncoming traffic). Finally, if the vehicles are drivable, they should be moved out of traffic if it is safe to do so.
Call the Police and Your Insurance Company
Other than checking on anyone else involved for injuries, it is generally prudent to limit your contact with the other driver(s) involved. Avoid making statements about what caused the accident, assigning blame, or expressing frustration or anger.
Next, call 911 to report the accident and request police assistance. You must report the crash to the police, even if the crash seems minor, and especially if the other driver asks you not to report it. Do not be coaxed into “settling it between each other.” Although you may sympathize with the other individual, it is important that you protect your legal rights. You must also call your insurance company to report the accident.
While speaking with the officer(s) and your insurance agent, stick to the facts. Just as when speaking with the other driver, you should avoid offering any apologies, discussing blame or fault for the accident, or losing your temper. Give your statement as to what happened, as you remember it, and try to avoid offering anything further.
Exchange Information and Document the Scene
While the police should document the contact information and insurance information of the other driver(s) involved, it is always a good idea to independently obtain this information for yourself. A simple picture of the other driver’s license plate, driver’s license, and insurance card should suffice.
Further, you should take photographs of the damage to the vehicles, the accident scene, and if you have any visible injuries, you should photograph them as well. Additionally, you should identify any witnesses. Write down their names and contact information, and ask them what they saw.
Seek Medical Attention
If your injuries are serious, you should request an ambulance, or have someone drive you to the nearest emergency room. If your injuries are not serious enough to require an emergency room visit, you should follow up with your primary care physician as soon as possible. Don’t try to tough it out. Even in the event, you don’t feel any pain at the scene, it is still a good idea to follow up with your doctor or medical provider as soon as possible, as pain and other symptoms may crop up later. Further, delaying medical attention can hurt, not only your chances of physically recovering, but can additionally hurt your ability to pursue compensation.
Contact a New Jersey Car Accident Lawyer
As soon as possible, you should call a New Jersey personal injury attorney. If you wish to discuss your legal options, Farrell & Thurman, P.C., offers a variety of convenient ways to schedule a free no-pressure consultation. You may do so directly on our website (Schedule A Consult), via phone (609-924-1115), or by email (Contact Us).