Following an auto / car accident, a prospective client will ordinarily ask, “what should I do?” The following is a general guide as to some of the necessary steps to take if you have been injured in a car accident. It is important to note at the outset that no two cases are alike, the following comments may not apply to your specific situation, and issues regarding insurance coverage, PIP coverage, or compensability of your injuries can be very complex – if you have been injured or have any questions in regards to personal injury law or your car accident, you should immediately consult with an experienced personal injury attorney. This article is for information purposes only, and is neither legal advice nor the creation of an attorney client relationship.
Most importantly, if you have been injured, you should immediately seek necessary medical attention for any injuries sustained. To allow your treatment providers to properly diagnose and treat your injuries, it is necessary to inform any EMS personnel, doctors, nurses, and surgeons of your symptoms and complaints, as well as how the injury occurred. Failure to seek treatment immediately upon injury can obviously have serious consequences on your health – additionally, failure to properly document your injuries and treatment could be harmful to any claim you may have.
It is extremely important that the accident be properly documented and that all necessary information be gathered. Therefore, it is essential to immediately report the accident to the local police department, or to the New Jersey State Police depending upon the location – of course, this assumes that your injuries are not so severe so as to prevent you from doing so, or that you do not require emergency medical attention. Similarly, it is necessary to obtain the name, address, telephone number, license plate number, insurance information, and driver’s license number of everyone involved in the accident and any witnesses, while you should also make note of the weather conditions at that time, any observations of traffic signals or devices, commercial or other markings on any vehicles, and any possible contributing factor to the accident (cell phone usage, pedestrians, odor of alcohol, etc.).
To the extent possible, photographs should be immediately taken of the accident scene, any visible injuries, all vehicles involved, and any property damage. With today’s technology, your cell phone or tablet could be an easily accessible way to preserve this important evidence.
Next, any statements made at or about the time of the accident may be critical to your claims or defense; statements made to first responders, investigating officers, or any medical treatment providers will more-likely-than-not be presented if any claim is made as the result of the accident. Therefore, it is imperative that you exercise the utmost discretion in any statements you make to anybody. Generally, because your words could easily be misinterpreted or twisted against your interests, it is suggested that you not unnecessarily discuss the accident or your injuries with anyone other than your attorney or your treating doctor – insurance companies are notorious for soliciting statements that could later be used against you. On the other hand, you will often have an obligation to cooperate with an insurance company, so it important to consult with your attorney as soon as possible in this regard. On the same note, be sure to consult with your attorney prior to signing any documents.
It is worth noting that New Jersey has a Statute of Limitations that prevents the filing of a personal injury complaint or claim petition for workers’ compensation benefits after two (2) years from the date of the accident in most instances. Furthermore, if you wish to pursue a claim against a public entity or governmental agency, or any employee of a public entity, you must give timely notice of the intent to file a claim, which is ordinarily within ninety (90) days from the date you knew or should have known of the cause of action. Failure to bring a claim within an applicable time period may cause any claim you may have had to be barred forever. Therefore, if you have been injured and wish to seek compensation, it is imperative that you do so immediately upon sustaining injury.
Justin M. Smigelsky, Esq. / Timothy J. Little, P.C. – 2017 – All Rights Reserved
Timothy J. Little, P.C. is a full-service law firm with offices in Woodbridge and Chesterfield, New Jersey. Timothy J. Little, P.C. represents injured clients throughout New Jersey including Middlesex County (Old Bridge, Woodbridge, Sayreville, East Brunswick, Spotswood, Perth Amboy, Dunellen, Colonia, Sewaren, Iselin, Avenel, Fords, Keasbey, Menlo Park, Port Reading, South Amboy, Monroe Township, Edison, Carteret, Cranbury, Helmetta, South River, Milltown, Highland Park, Jamesburg, Laurence Harbor), Monmouth County (Aberdeen, Matawan, Hazlet, Holmdel, Cliffwood Beach, Keyport, Keansburg, Middletown, Lincroft, Manalapan, Englishtown, Marlboro, Howell, Freehold, Colts Neck, Rumson), Union County (Rahway, Elizabeth, Linden), Ocean County (Brick, Toms River, Jackson, Point Pleasant), Somerset County, and Burlington County.