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Car Accident FAQs
Even a minor car accident can be stressful. The adrenaline rush that a person can get in the moments after a crash (the fight or flight syndrome) can leave them feeling anxious and unclear about what to do. If they have passengers in the car with them – especially young children – they likely will be focused on whether anyone is hurt. If they were alone, they could be focused on the damage to their vehicle. They may be so focused on other things they do not realize they have been injured.
These first few moments after a crash can give us tunnel vision, but it is important to try to also stay focused to take the appropriate steps because what we do following an accident can have an impact on whether or not we are successful in a car accident claim.
What are the things that should be done at the scene of the accident?
The first thing you should do if you are physically able is to check to see if anyone – both in your vehicle or the other vehicle – has been injured. If so, you will want to call 911 for emergency help. Even if no one is apparently injured, you still want to call 911 and request an officer to the scene. That officer will fill out a police report that will contain information that could be pertinent to your case, including his or her professional opinion as to what caused the crash.
If you are able, you will want to exchange contact, insurance, and vehicle information with any other driver involved in the crash. If there were witnesses, you will want to get their names and contact information, as well. Your lawyer may need their testimony to help prove your case.
If possible, try to take photos and/or video of the scene that documents the damage to vehicles, skid marks, property damage, road and weather conditions, etc. If you are not able, see if any bystanders would be willing to do this for you.
If I think I only have minor injuries, why do I still need to see a doctor right away?
Even if you do not believe you have been seriously hurt, there are several reasons why you should not delay getting checked out. First of all, it can be dangerous to your health. There are several types of injuries that often have delayed symptoms and by the time symptoms do appear, the victim’s health can be in serious jeopardy. These injuries include brain trauma and internal bleeding.
You also want to see a doctor right away because this will provide documentation of what your injuries were, the extent of the injuries, and how they occurred. If you wait too long after the accident, the insurance company may accuse you of being hurt somewhere else after the crash or even faking your injury in an effort to deny your claim.
What if the other driver says the accident was my fault?
No matter what the circumstances of the crash were, what the other driver may accuse you of at the scene, or what their insurance company may accuse you of, it is important to not engage in any debate with any of these parties. In fact, you should not have any conversations with the insurance company before speaking with a car accident lawyer.
Regardless of what the other driver claims, your lawyer will use all the evidence and tools available to prove otherwise.
Do I need a lawyer to file a car accident claim?
Although New Jersey law does not require victims to have lawyers to file a car accident claim, it is often in your best interest to consult with an experienced car accident attorney before proceeding. It has been shown time and time again that clients who do retain a car accident lawyer obtain better financial outcomes than those who try to handle their claims themselves.