What To Do After A Car Accident In Elizabeth, NJ: 5 Steps to Take Immediately

According to the Transportation Department of New Jersey, over 278,000 car accidents were reported in 2018. Approximately 60,000 car accidents resulted in injuries, and 524 accidents resulted in fatalities. Are you aware that you are legally obligated to attain an accident report in Elizabeth, NJ, to the police?

The government has set down conditions that have to be met before reporting a complaint. The aim of a police report is to compensate for the financial loss suffered by the claiming party. Let’s review how to report a car accident in Elizabeth, NJ, and a driver’s legal obligations towards other people on the road.

Do I Have to Report the Accident in Elizabeth, NJ?

If you were involved at the time of the accident, New Jersey requires a person to report any car accident that involves injury, death, or if the property damage caused exceeds $500. So do you know what to do after a car accident in Elizabeth, NJ? The claimant must report the accident to the local police department, any nearby police station, or simply call the police (call 911).

You call the police for help and they’re on the way, now what?

The driver’s police report must be written. Then, you must report the accident to your car insurance company (the driver’s insurance). For reference, by informing the car insurance company, you are essentially starting an insurance claim (also called the claim process).

Now, if the driver could not attain the police report, anyone in the car could make it on their behalf unless the police had already submitted it. Moreover, if the police are not present or called at the time of the accident, a letter must be sent to the Motor Vehicle Commission of New Jersey within 10 days with complete and detailed information.

Important Note: Remember the police report number!

Stay at the scene of the accident!

In addition, one has an obligation to stay at the scene of a car accident in Elizabeth, NJ. In New Jersey, it is a crime to leave the scene of the accident. A conviction for leaving the scene of the accident involving only property damage can result in a sentence that includes up to 30 days in jail, a mandatory driver’s license suspension of up to 30 days, fines ranging from $200 to $600 depending on whether this is your first offense, and two points on your driving record.

However, a conviction of leaving the scene of an accident that involves injuries or death can result in a sentence that includes a prison term of three to five years, a one-year driver’s license suspension, fines as high as $15,000, and the imposition of eight points on your driving record (which is enough to result in an automatic car insurance surcharge of at least $600).

This Guide was Written by:

James T. Hunt, Esq.
Car Accident Attorney Serving New York and New Jersey

James Hunt of Hunt & Associates, LLC located in Rochelle Park, New Jersey serves the North Jersey and New York City Metro area. James has an average of 5 stars from 6 reviews on Avvo as of August 2022 and has an Avvo rating of 9.9.

James aggressively advocates for his New York and New Jersey clients.

Does My Car Insurance Allow Me to File a Lawsuit For My Injuries?

When you’re in the process of figuring out what to do after a car accident in Elizabeth, NJ, there are important features that every driver should always check out in their car insurance policy. One of these features is whether the car insurance policy has a limitation on lawsuit threshold or no threshold. This is also known as the “verbal threshold.”

For a policy that does not contain the limitation on lawsuit provision, the policyholder has the right to sue the driver at fault in an accident regardless of the severity of the injury. This kind of policy is commonly referred to as a full tort policy.

Include the Limited Tort Policy!

On the other hand, a policy with a lawsuit limitation, commonly referred to as a limited tort policy, limits an injured person’s right to sue for personal injuries due to an accident. An injury party can recover damages for personal injuries only if the injury they suffered meets the requirements of a serious injury under the provisions in New Jersey. Under the laws in New Jersey, injuries that qualify as serious injuries include:

  • Personal injury, which results in death.

  • Dismemberment.

  • Significant disfigurement or significant scarring.

  • Displaced fractures.

  • Loss of a fetus.

  • Other than scarring or disfigurement, a permanent injury is within a reasonable degree of medical probability.

What’s Considered a Permanent Injury?

An injury shall be considered permanent when the body part or organ has not healed to function normally and will not heal to function normally with further medical treatment. Accordingly, if you do not have such a serious injury as listed above, you may not be able to file a lawsuit. Therefore, paying a little more for full tort policy insurance is important so that you can always maximize the amount you receive as compensation after a car accident in Elizabeth, NJ. It is also important to consult with an experienced car accident attorney near Elizabeth, NJ, as soon as possible to get the proper guidance.

How Do I Pay for My Medical Treatment

The good news is that New Jersey is a “no-fault” insurance state. This means that your medical treatment will be covered no matter who is at fault for the car accident. This means that the car insurance company covering you – particularly the driver’s insurance – will always pay for your medication treatment up to the limit specified in your policy.

Furthermore, all motorists operating in New Jersey must have no-fault personal injury protection (known as “PIP”) coverage in their car insurance policy in case they are injured in an accident. If the expenses from an accident go beyond what your personal injury protection covers, you will need to file a claim, such as an injury claim or an insurance claim against the driver who was at fault. No-fault, personal injury protection will typically also cover certain economic losses, like lost wages and rental car costs.

Types of Car Accidents in Elizabeth, NJ

People involved in a car accident in Elizabeth, NJ, will need to be familiar with the state laws of New Jersey since it affects their legal rights and the options they have in seeking compensation in court. Drivers need to understand the laws and policies governing compensation for medical expenses in New Jersey to protect themselves and their loved ones in case of an accident. There are different categories of car accidents in Elizabeth, NJ, including rollover accidents, single car accidents, rear-end collisions, side impact collisions, and sideswiping car accidents.

What To Do After A Car Accident: Rollover Accidents

Rollover Accidents in Elizabeth, NJ

The term “rollover accident” is used when a car is turned upside down. Buses, vans, and small trucks are more likely to experience rollover accidents because their center of gravity is greater. Obviously, a rollover car accident can cause significant injuries. It is important to know your rights in order to get immediate medical care.

What To Do After A Car Accident: Single Car Accidents

Single Car Accidents in Elizabeth, NJ

A single car accident results when only one car is involved in a crash. This can occur when the car is out of control for various reasons, such as bad weather, overly aggressive driving, distracted driving, or road conditions. Many one-car accidents involve a car striking a tree, a pole, or another parked car. Single car accidents also result from drivers falling asleep at the wheel or even drunk driving. Even if you are at fault for the car accident, you will be entitled to payment of your medical expenses and treatment due to the no-fault personal injury protection component of your car insurance policy.

What To Do After A Car Accident: Rear End Collisions

Rear End Collisions in Elizabeth, NJ

Rear-end accidents are very common. This occurs when the car behind hits the car in front of it. In 2018, 57% of car collisions were reported as rear-end accidents. Liability for such an accident is usually on the driver in the car behind that hit the other car’s rear. There are driving laws in New Jersey that require drivers to pay attention, use reasonable case, and maintain a safe distance between the cars next to them.

What To Do After A Car Accident: Sideswiping Car Accidents

Sideswiping Car Accidents in Elizabeth, NJ

A side-swiping accident occurs when a car moves out of its lane and hits another car in another lane. This can be caused due to distraction through cell phone use or intoxication. The Transportation Department reported that 12% of the accidents in 2018 were caused due to side swiping.

What to Do After A Car Accident in Elizabeth, NJ​

Your Legal Guide to Car Accidents in New Jersey

Being in a car accident in Elizabeth, NJ, is scary, and you may be in shock or confused immediately after. It is essential to take specific steps after an accident.

1. Check Yourself for Injuries

Try not to move! You’re in a crashed car; what to do next? Wait for help, or if your injuries are not severe, call 911 or ask someone around you to call as soon as possible.

2. Check Your Passengers

If you’re not severely injured, check on the passengers of your car. If you and your passengers are injured, call 911 or ask a witness on the scene to call for help.

3. Safety First

The next best thing to do is make sure no one else gets injured. If you’re able to move your car to the side of the road or a sidewalk because it can cause another hazard if you’re in a moving lane. Otherwise, leave it where it is and prioritize your safety.

4. Call the Police (Call 911) and File a Report

If the police weren’t called yet, call them. You must attain a police report that directly states details about the car accident in Elizabeth, NJ, to the police. When you report the accident, you must always ensure they give all facts that are accident related, such as the details that led to the accident and anyone involved in the accident.

You must avoid giving opinions and using statements like “I think.”

This police report may serve as an essential piece of evidence when you file an insurance claim or an injury claim in the future.  You must immediately notify your car insurance (or the driver’s insurance) company about the accident.

5. Priority: Avoid “I Think” and Fault Statements!

Do not make statements like “I’m sorry” or “I think I may have….”  Any statements like these can be twisted against you by an insurance company or the police.  It is important to state just the facts and not opinions or guesses.

6. Wait for Help to Come

If you’re able, get your emergency car kit ready. Open the emergency car kit, remove the road flares from the kit, and turn them on along with your hazard lights.

Important: Watch out for tow truck drivers who may approach you that you did NOT call. If they offer help, refuse them. They may be a scam. These kinds of tow truck drivers are known to be persuasive. These have become more common as of late, and when they bring your vehicle to their warehouse, they may hold it “hostage” for a massive price.

It would be best if you only trusted tow truck drivers your insurance company attains for you. You can also call local tow companies that accept your insurance company.

7. Gather Evidence; Collect Surrounding Driver and Witness Information

The most tedious part is gathering evidence, but it will help you in the long run.

It would help if you did the following:

  • Get Police Officer Information. Once the police get to the scene of the accident, grab their name and badge number(s).

  • Get Copies. Did you remember to copy down the police report number? Once the police have written the report as stated in #4 above, ask the police offers where you can grab a copy of this report. Your insurance company will ask for a copy when you’re ready to file a claim with your insurance.

  • Get Photographs. Next, if you can, try to gather evidence, like taking photos and video of the car accident scene, the area around the accident scene like stop signs or traffic lights, take pictures or video of the damage to the vehicles, and any injuries you have. This will be necessary evidence in case you file a lawsuit, for your records, and for each driver’s insurance to have on record. If you are too injured to do this, see if you can have a friend or family member come to the car accident scene in Elizabeth, NJ and take photos and video.

  • Get All Names. Write down all names and addresses of everyone involved in the accident, the drivers of the vehicles involved in the accident, and any passengers in the other vehicles involved.

  • Get Witness Information. In addition, if you can, you should obtain the license plate number, driver’s license information, and car insurance information of the other driver.  If you can, take a photo of the other car’s license plate, the other person’s driver’s license, and their auto insurance card.  This will be helpful information if you make a claim or an insurance claim. If there are witnesses to the car accident in Elizabeth, NJ, you should also try to get their names and contact information.

8. Seek Medical Treatment

Lastly, you must seek medical treatment right away. Even if you feel like you were not injured, it is important to get checked by a physician because some injuries may not appear immediately, and symptoms might be delayed until later.  If you have an injury, it must be treated correctly by a doctor, and there must be documentation of your injuries. It is also essential to prevent minor injuries from getting worse.

How Long Do You Have to File a Lawsuit?​

The New Jersey Statute of Limitations sets the deadline for filing a lawsuit for injury and harm suffered because many people are unaware of what to do after a car accident. In New Jersey, a person has two (2) years from the date of the accident to file a lawsuit. Therefore, you should make sure that when you attain the police report about the accident, the date is printed clearly. You will be barred from pursuing an insurance claim if you do not file a lawsuit in time.

What About Injuries with a Minor or Child involved?

In the case of an injury to a minor or child under the age of 18, the statute of limitations is extended to two (2) years after the person reaches the age of 18 – meaning, their 20th birthday.

Therefore, one must make a claim as soon as possible and start the claim process to avoid being barred from filing a lawsuit.

The lawyers of Hunt & Associates represent injury victims of car accidents in Elizabeth, NJ, and are always ready to help guide you through the process.

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