The Aftermath of a Car Accident
November 6, 2019
You are driving one day, going to work or running an errand, perhaps going to meet up with friends and all of a sudden, you hear the screeching of brakes and another vehicle makes contact with yours. After checking yourself for injuries and the other driver, there are a few steps you should take after the accident.
What to Do
-Seek medical attention first. Even if this was a minor fender bender, you may have injuries that you do not realize. Even if you feel completely fine, it is highly advisable to seek medical attention. You do not want to be somewhere else when you start to feel the effects of the injuries, if there are any.
-Call police to the scene in all cases and cooperate with them when they arrive. They will ask you about the details of the accident, so answer all their questions honestly and to the best of your knowledge. And most importantly, do not guess. If you do not know, tell the police officer exactly that.
-Collect evidence immediately. Take photos of the scene of the accident, as well as any property damage and injuries you have sustained. Obtain the names and contact information of all witnesses.
-Contact an attorney as soon as possible. An attorney will help build your case. The other driver’s legal team and insurance company are experts and may use tactics that you may not see coming to try and disprove your argument.
What Not to Do
-Do not move your vehicle from the scene of the accident unless it is necessary for safety reasons.
-Do not inadvertently admit fault as soon as the accident happens. In spite of any good intentions, saying things like “I’m sorry” or “I crashed into him” will harm your case. Even if the accident was 100% the other driver’s fault, these statements can and will be used against you in court. Be completely objective when explaining the details of the accident, e.g. “We collided at Point X.” Your attorney will handle the technical details that will come about later.
-Do not leave the scene of the accident before law enforcement tells you it is okay to do so. Even if you were not at fault, you are still required to stop and exchange information with the other driver. In New Jersey, you can still be cited for a hit-and-run even if you were not at fault, punishable by a fine between $2,500 and $5,000, up to 180 days in jail and/or revocation of your license for up to one year. Avoid these penalties by staying at the scene of the accident until the police arrive and have everything they need and allow you to leave.
-Do not lose your cool at the scene if the other driver caused the accident. Understandably your emotions may be running high, especially if you have children or pets in the car that were injured by the other driver’s actions. But the time to seek your damages is later, not now. Tend to anybody who is injured and exchange information with the other driver civilly, as well as filing a police report.