Do I Have to File a Police Report After a Car Accident in New Jersey?
A car accident is a stressful experience; however, there are certain steps every driver should follow to ensure everything after the accident unfolds smoothly. One of the most important steps is contacting the local police department as soon as possible. Some states require drivers to report accidents to the police. New Jersey is one of many states that require drivers to report collisions to the police under certain conditions. Any driver in New Jersey is required to report a car accident to either the local police department or state police if there is an injury or death involved or if there is property damage of $500 or more.
The accident must be reported by the quickest means necessary, so it is likely that a motorist will use their cellphone to call the police. If a driver is unable to use their phone, they should go to the nearest police station and file a report there. If a driver is incapacitated, then a passenger in the vehicle may file the report as well.
A written report must be filed within 10 days of the accident, which the police will do when they come out to the scene of the accident. If the accident was minor and did not meet the requirements, then the driver can fill out a New Jersey Self-Reporting Crash form found on the state’s website. Failing to report an accident will result in a possible driver’s license or registration suspension and fines or penalties up to $100 in addition to court fees.
What is Included in an Accident Police Report?
It is highly recommended to notify the police, even if the car accident did not meet the legal requirements. The police provide a third-party perspective of an accident that will include facts, accurate descriptions, and details. The police report is useful for insurance and medical purposes as well. It is likely that an insurance company will use the information of the report to provide an estimate of damages. Medical professionals may use the report to issue out a diagnosis.
The accident report will contain information specific to the accident, including:
- Contact information of any drivers and passengers involved.
- Any witness information, including contact information and accounts.
- Insurance information of both drivers.
- Driver accounts of the event.
- Damage location on vehicles and other property damage.
- Make and models of the vehicles.
- Date, time, and location of the accident as well as road and weather conditions.
Can a Police Report Help Me with a Lawsuit?
A police report is particularly useful if one of the involved parties decides to file a personal injury lawsuit. Although a police report is not admissible in court as evidence, it can be used against a party if no police report was filed and there is an injury. The argument would be that the injury was not severe enough to warrant a police report. If the injury was severe, then it would make it illegal not to file the report. It is important to note that there is a two-year statute of limitations for any personal injury lawsuit starting from the date of the accident.
What Steps Should I Take After a Collision?
Other than contacting the police, there are other vital steps drivers must take following a car accident:
- Stop the vehicle. Drivers should pull over to a safe area and shut off the engines if they are able to do so, even if the accident was minor.
- Check everybody involved. After shutting off the vehicles, drivers should check themselves and passengers to make sure everyone is okay and safe.
- Call police to the scene. Even if it is a minor accident, it is always a good idea to contact the police following an accident. A police report contains helpful information for the drivers, insurance companies, and medical professionals.
- Document the accident scene. Drivers should collect as much information as possible, such as contact and insurance information and pictures of the damage and location. It is also best to relay as much information as possible to the police when they come to the scene. Additionally, it is important not to admit fault.
- Get contact information from witnesses. If there are any witnesses, drivers can get their contact information.
- Report the accident to the insurance company. A driver should inform the insurance company about the accident and injuries.
- Go to the doctor for an assessment. Even if a driver does not feel they are injured, it is best to get checked out since some injuries can appear later.
It is important to note that New Jersey is a no-fault insurance state, meaning that regardless of fault, a driver must report the car accident to their own insurance company if they hope to cover their damages. Through no-fault insurance, a driver could only pursue a personal injury lawsuit if the injury was severe or if damages cannot be covered by the limits of the policy. It is also advisable to contact a lawyer for help with a claim.
Highland Park Car Accident Lawyers at the Law Offices of Harold J. Gerr Help Clients Gather Evidence for Personal Injury Claims
Filing a police report after a collision is important, and in some states, it is required. If you were injured in a car wreck, a Highland Park car accident lawyer at the Law Offices of Harold J. Gerr can help you. Call us at 732-249-4600 or complete our online form for a free consultation today. Located in Highland Park, New Jersey, we proudly serve clients throughout New Brunswick, Somerset, Piscataway, Edison, South River, Sayreville, Metuchen, East Brunswick, South Plainfield, Fords, Middlesex, Old Bridge, Iselin, Bound Brook, Perth Amboy, Colonia, Elizabeth, and Newark.