What to Do After a Car Crash

A road is a dangerous place. Every year, there are approximately 275,000 car accidents in New Jersey. About 60,000 (or 22 percent) involve injuries, and 520-600 deaths occur annually.

If you’ve been involved in a car accident in New Jersey, there are steps you should take to protect yourself and your legal rights. Some of these are taken while still at the scene and others later on.

At the Scene of the Crash

Don’t leave the scene of an accident you are involved in. This could result in criminal prosecution even if you weren’t at fault. Instead, try to do the following:

  • Get to safety. If possible, move your car out of the traveled way so it doesn’t further endanger other traffic, bystanders, or those involved in the accident.
  • 911. Call 911 if someone is injured, and if you’re trained in first aid, consider helping others hurt in the accident.
  • Contact the police. Even if no one appears hurt, you’re required to notify the police in any New Jersey accident with property damage over $500.
  • Identification. Obtain the name, address, registration, and license plate number of others involved in the accident. Ask if you can see their driver’s licenses.
  • Witnesses. Try to collect the names and contact information of any passengers involved in the accident and others who may have witnessed it. See if they will give you a written statement – don’t rely on the police to get all the information for those involved and potential witnesses.
  • Document. Write down your thoughts on the accident, and don’t share them with anyone. Take photos of the crash scene, involved vehicles, and any injuries you may have.
  • Medical attention. Accept treatment at the site or visit your doctor. Sometimes, you may be injured and not even know it.

After the Accident

Later, after you’ve received medical attention, there is more you should do:

  • Remain silent. Try not to discuss the details of the accident with anyone. You may say something that can be used against you later.
  • Legal counsel. Consider talking to a lawyer specializing in New Jersey car accidents. Dealing with automobile insurance companies on your own is not recommended.