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What To Do After a Car Accident

police investigating a New Jersey car accident sceneNJ car accident attorneys fighting for the rights of injury victims in Middlesex, Essex, Passaic, Hudson, Morris and Bergen County.

Bright lights. Sirens. Bits of your car smashed to smithereens. Smoke. Blood. Screams. It’s easy to become disoriented following a serious car accident. Yet what you do in the minutes, hours, days and weeks that follow will determine how well compensated you are in the future.

If serious damage or injury has occurred, you will need a NJ car accident attorney to help you investigate the details of the crash and win the maximum recovery. Eisbrouch Marsh are leaders in car accident litigation in New Jersey and New York City who are standing by to hear your side of the story.

What to do at the scene of a car accident

Naturally, calling for help should be the first step you must take following an accident. Call 911 to get an impartial third party on the scene. The third person you should call is your insurance agent who can provide you with added tips for surveying the scene. You can also check the back of your insurance ID card, which usually contains a checklist of steps to take.

The NY & NJ personal injury lawyers at Eisbrouch Marsh recommend the following steps be taken at the scene of an automobile accident to improve the likelihood of winning a court case or settlement.

Steps to take at the scene of a car accident:

  • Record what happened: Details can become fuzzy over time, so it’s important that you write a full narrative of how the accident happened, as you see it. A police officer tending to the scene will usually have you fill in the details too. If so, be sure to get a copy of the official report for your records. Be sure to include information like: the time, the place, the injuries sustained, and what damage both vehicles sustained. Try to surmise what you feel happened before, during and after the crash.
  • Take photo evidence: If you can move, take pictures of your car and the other car involved in the crash. Try to get a long-range shot that shows the positioning of both vehicles before they are moved. If you are unable to get pictures, ask someone else to take the photos for you. At minimum, you will need photos of your vehicle taken at the body shop for insurance claims processing. Be sure to write extensive captions for the photos to help in your explanations later.
  • Exchange information: You want to get the other vehicle’s VIN number, as well as the driver’s name, address, phone number, license plate number and driver’s license number.
  • Find eye witnesses: Look around for any spectators and get their names, addresses and phone numbers as well. These people can verify the details you remember from that day in court.

What NOT to do after a car accident

Don’t forget these big no-no’s when it comes to crashes:

  • Never leave the scene of an accident before help arrives and reports are filed, no matter what!
  • Never rely on a “gentleman’s agreement,” rather than calling 911, the police, and your insurer.
  • Never lose your cool and start yelling or blaming the other driver. You’ll have your day in court.
  • Do not sign any documents unless it’s for the police or your insurance company.
  • Don’t forget to register the accident with your insurance provider. There are time limits on when you can file.
  • Do not discuss details of the accident with the other driver’s insurance company. They may try to get recorded statements that could work against you in the court of law.

Filing a no fault car insurance claim

New York and New Jersey are considered “no fault” insurance states, which means that your Personal Injury Protection coverage will pay for your medical expenses and lost wages, regardless of who was to blame for the accident. You will need to contact your insurance provider to file a claim. You will also have to pay the deductible, as stated on your policy.

Even though most of your expenses will be covered by your PIP coverage, you may still file a car accident lawsuit in NY or NJ to cover the damage to your vehicle and any medical expenses beyond what is included with your policy.

A checklist of tasks to complete in the coming weeks:

  • Keep a journal: Write down how you feel, physically, each day after the accident.
  • See a medical professional: Call your doctor to have a checkup, which will serve as valuable third party testimony should you decide to file a car accident lawsuit.
  • Check in with your attorney: A good car accident lawyer will keep you updated every step of the way. Yet, it doesn’t hurt to call in and check on the status of your case.

When to file a car accident lawsuit in NJ & NYC

In New York and New Jersey, you have two years to file a car accident lawsuit. This time limit is helpful because it’s not always apparent that the crash has caused serious injury until some amount of time has elapsed. Chronic neck or back pain and traumatic brain injuries can be particularly slow in manifesting, for example.

You should also consider filing a car accident lawsuit if:

  • Your property damage exceeds $50,000.
  • There has been a death in your vehicle.
  • Injuries include permanent scarring, disfigurement, or disability.

Stages of a car accident lawsuit

Once an attorney helps you file your formal complaint, the other motorist’s insurance company and legal team have a set amount of time to respond. They will then either confess or deny responsibility for the accident. There may even be a cross-claim, where the other driver seeks to file against you.

Next, there are preliminary motions that may delay your compensation:

  • Motion for a change of venue
  • Motion for a change of judge
  • Motion for removal from state to federal court
  • Motion to dismiss the suit entirely

If your case is not dismissed, then the judge will set deadlines for discovery and determine a trial date. It could take more than a year for your case to appear in court, regardless of the circumstances. Often, car accident attorneys meet in mediation talks to see if they can reach a pre-trial agreement or settle out-of-court.

If no settlement can be reached, both sides will engage in the discovery process to determine all the facts and evidence surrounding the crash. Your attorney will interview eyewitnesses, examine all official documents and file a deposition. Both sides must share all information. After discovery is finished, you may bring a motion for summary judgment, which would allow the judge to make a ruling without conducting an evidentiary hearing.

Few car accident lawsuits make it all the way to trial. More often than not, a settlement is reached beforehand, especially if you have done your part in collecting evidence after the car accident.

How a NJ car accident lawyer can help

The New Jersey car accident attorneys at Eisbrouch Marsh have more than 25 years of experience in taking auto accident lawsuits to court. With the help of our attorneys, you may be able to recover compensation for: lost wages, physical pain and suffering, loss of consortium, severe emotional distress, loss of future earning capacity, rehabilitation costs, and all medical expenses – past, present, and future.

Our dedicated lawyers have obtained settlements of $2.5 million for burn victims and $2.9 million for motorcyclists who lost a limb due to another driver’s negligence. It doesn’t cost you anything to have a car accident attorney investigate your claim. Call 201-342-5545 for more information on filing a car accident lawsuit in New Jersey, including Middlesex, Morris, Essex, Passaic, Hudson and Bergen County.

  1. Insure.com – What To Do After A Car Accident That’s Not Your Fault, http://www.insure.com/car-insurance/third-party-accident.html
  2. CNN – What To Do After A Car Accident, http://www.cnn.com/2008/LIVING/wayoflife/05/09/car.accident/
  3. Howstuffworks – 5 Things You Should NOT Do After A Car Accident, http://auto.howstuffworks.com/car-driving-safety/accidents-hazardous-conditions/5-things-after-car-accident.htm