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What Are My First Steps After A Car Accident In New Jersey?

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Michael J. Epstein - Personal Injury - General - Super Lawyers

Answered by: Michael J. Epstein

Located in Rochelle Park, NJThe Epstein Law Firm, P.A.

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Nobody expects to be in a motor vehicle accident. The moments following a crash can be confusing, disorienting and stressful. It is likely that your first step after an accident will be to call an ambulance, depending on your level of injury. Whether the crash involved a bus, car, motorcycle, truck or other vehicle, your priority should be seeking medical attention for yourself and potentially other injured parties. 

Read the list of steps below for further instructions on how to react if you have not suffered injuries that require immediate medical attention: 

1. Call The Police

After assessing your injuries and the injuries of other passengers, call the police and wait for them to arrive at the scene. They will likely ask you questions about what happened, but you are under no obligation to answer more than basic questions about the accident. 

If the police ask you a question you are not comfortable answering, explain that you will answer the question with a lawyer present. Cooperate with the police but remember that anything you say could end up in the police report and complicate the determination of liability for the crash. 

2. Document The Accident Scene And Property Damage

Memories are not always accurate when it comes to recalling the details of a car, motorcycle, bus or truck crash, so photographs are critical to recall what happened. If you are physically able, take photos of your vehicle, the other vehicles involved, the scene of the accident and any other relevant information. Not only can you use this evidence to pursue compensation to cover your property damage, but it can also help to demonstrate fault. 

3. Seek Medical Attention

Even if you don’t think you have suffered a serious injury or if no injuries are initially apparent, you should still seek medical attention as soon as possible. Some injuries may have symptoms that surface later or that can worsen over time. Seeking the guidance of a medical professional is important both for your health and for insurance purposes. Your medical records can prove that your injuries resulted from the accident if they require treatment at a later date. 

4. Contact Your Insurance Company

New Jersey has no-fault insurance laws that allow you to file a claim with your insurance company, regardless of who is at fault for the accident. This is called personal injury protection (PIP) coverage and may help cover some of your medical bills and lost earnings while you recover. You can file a PIP claim almost immediately after your accident, even before fault has been established. In addition, you can still pursue financial compensation from the other party’s insurance, even after filing a PIP claim. 

5. Call A Personal Injury Attorney

Many people think they don’t need a legal representative after a car, motorcycle, truck or bus accident. However, in many cases, a lawyer can help you recover more damages than you could on your own. They can also review your medical records, the accident report, the declarations page from the insurance company and other documentation to help ensure you get the compensation you need. 

It is important to remember that personal injury attorneys are experienced at examining the facts of your accident and explaining what you should expect. You should not settle for less than you deserve. A lawyer can help you obtain the resources you need to recover. 

Depending on the severity of your injury and the details of the accident, you could seek damages, or compensation, for pain and suffering, medical expenses, lost wages, property damage and more. The statute of limitations for a vehicular accident in New Jersey is two years, and some cases can take months to settle. If you were involved in an accident, an attorney can help you determine if you have a case and how to proceed.

Disclaimer: The answer is intended to be for informational purposes only. It should not be relied on as legal advice, nor construed as a form of attorney-client relationship.

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