I’ve Been in a Car Accident, Now What?Request a Free Consultation
Here are 20 FAQs you need to know if you have been involved in a car accident with the help of our car accident attorneys in South Jersey.
Should I sign a release from the other driver’s insurance company?
A: NO! If the other driver’s insurance company offers you a release form, you should be very cautious before signing it. A release form is a legal document that releases the other driver and their insurance company from any further liability related to the accident.
The purpose of a release form is to settle the claim quickly and prevent further legal action. Signing this form gives up your right to pursue any additional compensation for the accident, even if you later discover that your injuries are more severe than you initially thought, or if new evidence comes to light that shows the other driver was more at fault than you initially believed.
How long do I have to file a personal injury claim in NJ?
A: In most cases, you have two years from the date of the accident to file a personal injury claim.
What is the statute of limitations for filing a property damage claim in New Jersey?
A: In New Jersey, the statute of limitations for filing a property damage claim related to a car accident is generally six years from the date of the accident. This means that you have up to six years to file a claim against the at-fault driver for property damage caused by the accident.
Do I need a lawyer for my car accident case in NJ?
A: While you are not required to have a lawyer for your case, it is recommended that you have one to ensure that your rights are protected and that you receive fair compensation for damages or injuries sustained.
What damages can I recover in a car accident?
A: You may be able to recover compensatory damages, which are any type of monetary compensation awarded to a person who has been injured or suffered losses in a car accident. These damages can include:
- Medical expenses: The cost of medical treatment, like hospitalization, medication, surgery, physical therapy, and other expenses.
- Lost income: If the injured party is unable to work due to injuries sustained in the accident, they may be entitled to compensation for lost income or wages.
- Property damage: If the accident resulted in damage to the injured party’s vehicle or other property, they may receive compensation for the cost of repairs or replacement.
- Pain and suffering: This refers to compensation for the physical and emotional pain and suffering the injured party has experienced as a result of the accident, including but not limited to PTSD.
- Loss of consortium: If the injured party is unable to maintain a normal relationship with their spouse due to the accident, they may be entitled to compensation.
Another type of damages that may be awarded in a car accident is punitive damages, intended to punish the at-fault party for their actions and to deter similar conduct in the future. Punitive damages are not typically awarded in most cases, as they are reserved for cases where the at-fault party’s conduct was particularly egregious or reckless, such as driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol or engaging in other reckless behavior while driving.
To award punitive damages, the injured party must demonstrate that the at-fault party’s conduct was a result of deliberate or willful actions and reckless disregard for the safety of others. New Jersey places a cap on the amount of punitive damages that can be awarded, which is five times the amount of compensatory damages or $350,000, whichever is greater.
Can I still recover damages if I was not wearing a seatbelt?
A: If you were not wearing a seatbelt and suffered injuries in a car accident, your damages may be reduced, due to negligence.
Do I need to report my accident to the New Jersey DMV?
A: If the accident resulted in injury, death, or property damage over $1,000, you are required to report it to the DMV within 10 days. Reporting the accident to the DMV is important to ensure proper documentation of the accident and to allow any necessary legal or insurance proceedings to move forward. Here is what you must report:
- Obtain a copy of the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Accident Report from the NJ DMV website or from your local police department.
- Fill out the form with as much detail as possible, including the date, time, location, and description of the accident, as well as the names and contact information of all drivers and passengers involved.
- Submit the completed form to the NJ DMV within 10 days, either online, by mail, or in person.
- If the accident resulted in injury or death, you may also be required to submit a copy of the police report and any medical reports related to the accident.
- Keep a copy of the accident report for your own records, as well as any other relevant documentation, such as photos of the accident scene and damage, and any insurance or medical bills related to the accident.
What happens if I was partially at fault for the accident?
A: New Jersey follows a “modified comparative negligence” rule, meaning that if you were partially at fault for the accident, your damages will be reduced by your percent of fault.
What do I do if the other driver flees the scene?
A: If the other driver flees the scene of the accident, contact the police immediately and provide as much information as possible about the other vehicle, including the color, make, model, and even license plate of the vehicle.
What happens if the other driver was driving a rental car?
A: If the other person was driving a rental car, you may be able to seek compensation from the rental car company under certain circumstances. The process for seeking compensation in the situation will depend on the specific circumstances of the accident and the rental car company’s insurance policy. Here are the general steps you should take if you are involved in a car accident with a rental car:
- Exchange information with the other driver, including their name, contact information, and the name of the rental car company.
- Notify your insurance company and the rental car company of the accident. The rental car company will likely have their own insurance policy that covers accidents involving their rentals.
- Obtain a copy of the police report and any medical reports related to the accident.
- Consult with an experienced car accident attorney to determine the best course of action for seeking compensation. Car accidents involving rentals can be more complicated than a regular accident, as rental car companies often have their own liability provisions.
- If the rental car company’s insurance policy covers the accident, you may be able to file a claim directly with their insurance provider.
- If the rental car company’s insurance policy does not fully cover your damages, you may be able to seek additional compensation from the other driver’s insurance policy or from the rental car company directly.
- If necessary, you can file a lawsuit to recover damages for your property and injuries.
Should I accept a settlement offer from the insurance company?
A: It is not recommended that you accept any settlement offer from the insurance company without the advice of a South Jersey injury attorney, as the offer may not, and usually does not, fully compensate you for your damages.
Should I speak to the other driver’s insurance company?
A: You are not required to speak to the other driver’s insurance company, and it is generally not recommended to do so without the advice of an attorney.
Can I appeal a car accident settlement?
A: Yes, you can appeal your car accident settlement in New Jersey. If you are dissatisfied with the settlement offer that you have received, you have the right to appeal and seek a higher amount of compensation.
- File a written notice of appeal: The first step in the appeals process is to file a written notice with the court that handled your case. This notice should explain why you believe the settlement offer is inadequate and provide any relevant evidence or legal arguments to support your position.
- Review: After filing the notice of appeal, the case will be reviewed by a higher court, which will consider the arguments presented by both sides. A decision will be made about whether to modify the settlement offer. Note that the appeals process can be complex and time-consuming.
What documents do I need to provide my attorney for a car accident case in NJ?
A: If you have hired an attorney to represent you for your car accident case, there are several important documents you should provide them.
- Police report: This contains important information about the accident, including the names of the drivers involved, contact information for any witnesses, and a description of how the accident occurred.
- Medical records: If you have suffered any injuries as a result of the accident, your attorney will need to review your medical records to understand the extent of your injuries and the treatment you received.
- Insurance information: You should provide your attorney with a copy of your auto insurance policy, as well as any correspondence you have received from your insurance company regarding the accident.
- Photographs and videos: If you took any photos or videos of the accident scene or the damage to your vehicle, these can be valuable evidence to support your case.
- Any communications related to the accident: This includes emails, text messages, and other written or electronic communications you have exchanged with the other driver, witnesses, or insurance companies.
- Wage and income information: If your injuries prevented you from working and earning income, your attorney will need to review your wage and income information to calculate the amount of lost wages and lost earning capacity you are entitled to.
What happens if I cannot afford medical treatment after a car accident?
A: There may be a few options available to you to help you get the care you need. First, if you have car insurance, your policy may include personal injury protection (PIP) coverage, which can help cover medical expenses related to the accident regardless of who was at fault. You can file a claim with your insurance company to access these benefits.
Second, you may be able to work out a payment plan or negotiate a reduced rate with healthcare providers to make the cost of treatment more manageable. Some providers may also offer financial assistance or charity care programs for low-income patients.
Another option is that you may be able to seek medical treatment at a community health clinic or a hospital emergency department, which can provide care regardless of your ability to pay.; however, please be aware that these options may have longer wait times or limited services compared to other healthcare providers.
What if the other driver does not have insurance?
A: If the other driver involved in a car accident does not have insurance, you may still be able to recover compensation for your damages and injuries through other means.
- Uninsured Motorist (UM) coverage: You may be able to file a claim with your own insurance company under your uninsured motorist (UM) coverage. UM coverage is a type of insurance that provides coverage for injuries and damages sustained in a car accident involving an uninsured or underinsured driver. It is required in New Jersey, unless you waive it in writing.
- File a personal injury lawsuit: You may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault driver to recover damages for your injuries and other losses. However, even if you win a judgment against the driver, there is no guarantee that they will be able to pay the damages, especially if they do not have insurance.
What happens if the car accident occurred in a construction zone in NJ?
A: If the accident was caused by a hazardous condition in a construction zone, such as debris on the road or inadequate signage, you may have a claim against the construction company or other parties responsible for maintaining the area. In these cases, it may be necessary to investigate to determine the cause of the accident and identify any potential liable parties.
There may be special rules and regulations governing diving in construction zones in NJ. For example, drivers are typically required to slow down and follow posted speed limits and may be subject to fines and other penalties for violating these rules. If you or the other driver was in violation of any of these rules at the time of the accident, it may impact your ability to recover compensation.
Can I sue the other driver personally if I am injured in a car accident?
A: Yes, you can sue the other driver personally for damages if you are injured in a car accident in NJ; however, there are some important factors to consider when pursuing a lawsuit.
- NJ is a no-fault state: This means that your own insurance company is generally responsible for covering your medical expenses and other losses, regardless of who was at fault for the accident. If your injuries meet certain criteria, you may be able to pursue a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault driver to recover additional damages, such as pain and suffering, lost wages, and reduced earning capacity.
- NJ uses a modified comparative negligence: This system determines liability in personal injury cases, meaning if you are found to be partially at fault for the accident, your damages may be reduced proportionately based on your percentage of fault. Additionally, if you are found to be more than 50% at fault for the accident, you may be barred from recovering any damages at all.
What should I do if I am involved in a car accident in New Jersey?
A: If you are involved in a car accident, here are some steps you should:
- Check for injuries: First and foremost, check yourself and anyone else in the accident for injuries. Call 911 immediately if anyone is injured or if the accident is serious.
- Move to a safe location: If possible, move your car to a safe location, such as the side of the road. Turn your hazard lights on to alert other drivers.
- Exchange information: Get the name, address, phone number, license plate number, and insurance information from the other driver(s) involved in the accident. You should also provide your own information to the other driver(s0>
- Gather evidence: Take photos of the accident scene, including the damage to all vehicles involved, as well as any skid marks or debris on the road. If there are any witnesses, get their contact information as well.
- Report the accident: In NJ, you are required to report any accident that results in injury or property damage exceeding $500 to the police station within 10 days. If the police do not come to the scene, you can report the accident at the police station or online.
- Notify your insurance company: Contact your insurance company as soon as possible to report the accident and provide them with the information you gathered.
- Seek medical attention: Even if you do not feel injured, it is a good idea to get checked out by a medical professional to rule out any hidden injuries or delayed symptoms. *
- Consult with an attorney: If you were injured in the accident or if there is significant property damage, it may be in your best interest to consult with a personal injury attorney who can advise you on your legal options.
What happens if the other driver was drunk or under the influence of drugs?
A: If you have been involved in a car accident and suspect that the other driver was under the influence, there are several steps you should take:
- Contact the police: If you have not already done so, call 911 and report the accident. Be sure to inform the operator that you suspect the other driver may be under the influence.
- Gather evidence: Take photos of the accident scene, including any damage to your car and the other driver’s car. If there were any witnesses to the accident, try to get their contact information.
- Seek medical attention.
- Contact your insurance company: Make your insurance company aware of the accident as soon as possible.
- Consider hiring a personal injury attorney: This is especially helpful to navigate the legal process and get the compensation you deserve. A lot of personal injury attorneys operate off of a contingency fee basis, meaning they only get paid if they win in court. This can ease any financial burden and headache.
If the other driver was under the influence, they may face criminal charges, and you may be able to seek punitive damages, in addition to compensatory damages.