Be prepared: What to do following a New Jersey auto accident
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Knowing what to do following a New Jersey auto accident may help drivers to keep their wits about them, and protect their rights.
According to the New Jersey Department of Transportation, there were more than 265,000 car collisions across the state in 2014 alone. Despite the frequency with which auto crashes occur, few drivers actually expect to be involved in one. Unexpected motor vehicle accidents often leave people feeling scattered. By knowing what to do following a wreck, drivers may help to put their minds at ease during a potentially distressing experience.
Check for injuries
It is common for people to suffer serious physical injuries in auto accidents. Therefore, the first thing drivers should do after a crash is to assess themselves, and check with their passengers to see if anyone has been injured. People should also check to ensure that everyone in the other vehicles involved is okay following a collision. If there is a question as to the condition of anyone who is involved, it is advisable to call an ambulance.
Move out of traffic
After a motor vehicle crash, automobiles that remain in traffic may be in harm's way. Thus, it is advisable for drivers to move their vehicles to a safe area if they are able. In moving their vehicles, it is important for people to remain as close to the accident scene as possible. Leaving the scene of an accident is considered a motor vehicle offense in the state of New Jersey. As such, it is punishable by fines of between $2,500 and $5,000 if someone is injured or killed in the accident, up to 180 days in jail, a driver's license suspension or any combination of these, according to the New Jersey Courts.
Report the accident to the authorities
Once motorists have assessed their injuries, and those of others who were involved, they should report car collisions to the authorities. Often times, law enforcement officers will respond to the scene and take an accident report. Such reports may be useful in the event people must take legal action down the road, so it is suggested that drivers obtain a copy of the accident report.
While waiting for the authorities, or after they have arrived, motorists who are involved in motor vehicle accidents should exchange information with the other drivers. This includes getting their names, addresses and phone numbers. In addition, people should get the other drivers' insurance company names, phone numbers and policy numbers.
Furthermore, it is also recommended that drivers obtain the contact information for any passengers that were involved in the collision, as well as for any witnesses. These people may be called upon to give testimony in the event either driver chooses to take legal action following a wreck.
Document the scene
Although law enforcement accident reports can provide valuable evidence following car crashes, drivers are advised to document the scene themselves. People should take pictures of any damage to their vehicles or the other vehicles involved, any visible injuries and the accident scene. These photographs may be useful for proving insurance claims, or in court.
Consult with an attorney
As a result of auto collisions, people in New Jersey, and elsewhere, may suffer serious injuries, which require medical treatment and care. For some, this leads to unexpected medical costs, in addition to lost income during their recoveries. Those who have experienced situations such as this may benefit from discussing their case with an attorney. A legal representative may help them to understand their rights, as well as their options for pursuing financial compensation.