So you had a car accident. Whether it was just a small fender bender, or something more serious, you may find yourself feeling shaky and worried about the future. It’s important in these vital moments directly after any crash to ensure that you will be protected from any possible negative outcome. Car accidents come with lots of unknowns, and whatever your circumstance, just try to stay calm and follow the steps outlined below to make sure that you are covering your bases during this unpredictable time.
Get to Safety, Call the Police. Take Stock of Injuries and Call 911 if Needed
A.) If you’re in a dangerous condition, help yourself, your passengers, and everyone else involved in the accident, to a safe place immediately. Our New Jersey car accident attorneys advise that in the state of New Jersey, there’s a “Good Samaritan” law, meaning you won’t be held liable for any injuries obtained while providing emergency care or transportation to an accident victim. Check yourself and the other people involved for injuries, and Call 911 if necessary
B.) Call the Police. Even if all are without injury and the cars seem safe to drive, it is still of the utmost importance to all involved to obtain an Accident Report from the local police. This is considered unbiased documentation from a trusted source, and is vital for use by insurance companies, law enforcement, and attorneys. Often there are delayed onset injuries and car troubles that only become evident days after an accident, and it is to your benefit to have a police report in case anything goes wrong. In the state of NJ, if you’ve been involved in a car accident involving injury, or if the property damage from the accident is 500$ or more, you’re legally required to notify the nearest law enforcement agency
Exchange Information, but Don’t Discuss Blame
Make sure not to discuss fault with the other parties. Even if you feel like maybe you made a mistake, it is best to keep it to yourself until you have had some time to calm down and see the situation clearly. The insurance companies are the ones who assign blame after an accident, not the drivers. You must take this necessary precaution to protect yourself in these preliminary conversations, or it may be possible to find yourself in a sticky situation several months down the road.
Exchange information and insurance with the other driver. Be sure to get the following information from them:
- Full name and all contact information
- Insurance company information and policy number
- Their Vehicle description, the make, model and year.
- Their Vehicle registration information, license plate number
- Location of the accident
It may be easier to take clear pictures of these listed documents and items with your smartphone for ease of understanding them later on. You may feel flustered after a crash, and this way you will know that you have all the correct information at your fingertips for when you calm down.
Record Your Experience of the Accident and Take Pictures
While waiting for the police, create your own detailed account of the accident from your point of view:
A.) Be sure to have detailed pictures of:
- Any visible injuries you or your passengers might have obtained
Any damage to the vehicle, from multiple angles
Multiple angles of the full crash
Location and distinctive landmarks
Skid marks, landmark damage, guardrail damage, etc.
Anything else you can think of that may give more information on the collision
B.) After taking pictures, note down whatever you can remember about the accident.
We naturally forget small details of traumatic events shortly after they happen, so write down or voice-record the following information as soon as you can after the crash:
- Date and time
- Address, or approximate address, the road you are on, and the nearest cross street
- The direction you were traveling in
- The direction the other car was traveling in
- Approximate speed of each car
- What was happening before, during, and after impact
- Driving conditions such as weather, and visibility
- Any strange sensations or non-visible injuries you might be feeling
C.) Sketch a diagram while the details are still fresh in your mind of before, during, and after the collision
- Before leaving the scene of the accident be sure that you have obtained:
- Any witnesses Statements, Names, and Contact information
- The Names, Badge Numbers, and Contact information of any police on the scene of the accident
- The Names and Contact information of all other parties involved, like passengers in the other vehicle.
If you find yourself being questioned by the police about driving under the influence, possession of drugs, or for any other actions which might result in criminal charges, the New Jersey auto accident attorney suggests that you have the right to refrain from answering that line of questioning in NJ, and you have the right to ask for an attorney.
Go Seek Immediate Medical Attention
Whether you feel you are injured or not, it is imperative that you seek medical attention directly following any accident. Many car accident injuries will not be readily visible, and they may have delayed onset, meaning you won’t feel them for days. These “hidden” injuries may negatively impact you for the rest of your life if not treated immediately. Tell the doctors if you were feeling anything unusual directly after the crash that you may not be feeling now.
In the case that you are injured, having a doctor weigh in on your condition on the day of the crash will be highly beneficial to your insurance claim. This will be especially helpful if you are dealing with an uncooperative second party. Make sure to keep track of any out-of-pocket expenses you pay and of your possible medical costs and procedures moving forward.
Consider Hiring an Attorney
Seeking legal advice is a good way to make sure that you are protected in the case of a car accident. To some, it may seem like an extreme measure, but it is actually the most precautionary step you should take after an accident. Having an experienced lawyer at your side will greatly benefit you if things don’t go smoothly.
some examples of common events that may happen after a straightforward-seeming fender bender are as follows:
- Delayed onset injuries – Your health may seem suddenly compromised days after an accident, and these types of injuries may prevent you from living a normal life.
- No insurance – The other driver may be uninsured, and if that happened to be the case, it would be have been very tactful for them to not share this information with you at the scene of the crash.
- Fraud – There are drivers out there who may decide to “cash-in” on an accident by filing multiple fraudulent injury and damage claims hours and even days after the accident. There are people who do this for a living, and plan small accidents regularly to swindle unsuspecting drivers
- “Modified Contributory Negligence rule” – in New Jersey, this rule says that car accidents may share liability for the accident and it’s resultant costs. This means you can pursue damages against the other driver, even if the accident was partly your fault, as long as you are not the driver most to blame for the accident
All of this may seem overwhelming from a minor collision, but the experienced and expert advice of a personal lawyer will help bring you a sense of control and calm when a crash leaves you reeling. You will feel comforted knowing that someone with experience will fight for you if things turn sour. Getting in an accident may upset you for a day or two, but it doesn’t have to upset your life if you have a trusted name by your side to guide you.
An accident can be scary and upsetting, but if you take the right steps and are prepared from the moment you step out of your car, you can make the most of an unlucky situation and hopefully not have any long term effects. If you follow the steps outlined in this article, then any car accident that happens to come your way won’t be able to throw you off balance for too long, and you’ll be confidently back on the road before you know it.