Everyone should do their best to avoid accidents that lead to injuries such as car, bus, motorcycle, or trucking accidents, a slip and fall accident, or a work related accident – but some accidents cannot be avoided. Once you get into an accident it can be hard to think clearly. You may be injured, stressed, confused, or overwhelmed. It is therefore important to keep a level head and follow the guide below to best ensure that your rights are protected.
Step 1: Report the accident to the appropriate authorities. Typically accidents are reported to the local police department. However, if you are on a state highway in New Jersey, the accident should be reported to the New Jersey State Police. Boating accidents must be reported to the New Jersey State Police, Marine Law Enforcement station in the area where the accident occurred. Work place injuries should be reported to management.
Do not discuss motor vehicle or boating accidents with others involved, this includes the other drivers’ insurance company. Direct any questions to your lawyer. Avoid posting comments on social media websites such as Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, etc.
Discuss the accident only with the police during the investigations. All other discussions should be limited.
Step 2. Always seek immediate medical attention if you are hurt in an accident. People often hesitate to seek medical attention because, for example, they do not have insurance or believe the injury is less critical than it really is. However, the most important thing is to ensure your health. Therefore, if you are involved in an accident seek medical attention immediately. If the treating physician recommends further medical treatment, get it. While treating, be honest and complete, later your medical history may be reviewed by an attorney to determine the extent of your injury.
In addition, if you are hurt you should take pictures of your injuries as soon as possible. Bruises, abrasions, and swelling typically heal quickly so it is therefore important to document them.
Step 3. Before leaving the scene of the accident it is always important to document the scene unless you are injured and are unable to do so. If you have a camera or a camera phone, take photographs of the scene. If for example, you slipped and fell because the floor was wet and there were no “wet floor” signs, then you want to take pictures of the wet floor, and the surrounding area to show that there were no “wet floor” signs posted. If documenting a car accident, then you should take photographs of the positions of the cars, skid marks, damage to the vehicles, and anything else that can help identify what happened.
In addition, if you are involved in an motor vehicle accident make sure to obtain:
- The other driver’s license number, name, address, and telephone number;
- Registration and insurance agent’s name;
- The name of the insured and the policy number;
- The name, address, and telephone number of any witnesses; and
- Write down if the other people involved are injured and, if so, write down their injuries, if not, write down “unhurt.”
Always follow-up and get a copy of the police report.
Step 4: You should report the accident to your insurance company. New Jersey is a “no fault” state which means that the medical bills for injuries you sustained in an automobile accident are paid by your own insurance company under what is known as “Personal Injury Protection” (or “PIP”). You should therefore advise your medical provider that you were involved in an automobile accident when seeking treatment. The medical provider should submit the bill to PIP for payment. You will still be required to pay some medical bills because most insurance policies contain a deductible.
Step 5: It is important to document any out-of-pocket expenses you incur. For example, if you are required to pay some of your medical bills you should save copies of you receipts. If your doctor directs you to take time off from work then you should request a note.
Trying to resolve all of these complicated matters when you or a family member is injured in an accident can difficult and overwhelming. Our experienced New Jersey personal injury attorneys regularly represent people involved automobile accidents. To learn more about what we can do to help, please e-mail us or contact one of New Jersey lawyers at (973) 890-0004.