As if the natural consequences of a motor vehicle accident are not enough, you have the added burden of knowing that everything you do and say can influence what happens afterward. You may be unsure of how the accident will affect the next few weeks or even the rest of your life.
Do you have a serious or catastrophic injury? Will you have to fight for insurance coverage? Is there a chance you will decide to pursue a personal injury claim? If the answer to any of these questions is yes, you would benefit from knowing the best way to respond after an accident.
Even if you are convinced the accident was your fault, it is not in your best interests to say so at the scene. Since you have no way of knowing what was happening in the other vehicle, you do not have all the facts to determine who was at fault. New Jersey police investigators are the ones who should arrive at that conclusion, so be careful to say nothing that sounds like an apology or an admission of fault.
In fact, it is probably best to say as little as possible, especially to those in the other vehicle. If you are physically able, you can obtain names and contact information from the driver and passengers in the other car. Otherwise, speak only to the police and to your attorney, who will advise you how to deal with the insurance company.
To help your case, you can gather the following additional information:
- A description of the other vehicle, including its tag number
- Insurance information from the other driver
- Pictures of the damage to both vehicles from every possible angle
- Pictures of the scene of the accident
- Contact information of anyone who witnessed the accident
You may wish to write down details about the collision, including driving conditions, time of day and how the accident occurred. Some find it helpful to use their phones to record themselves describing the events.
The other driver may also be collecting contact information from you, but safety advocates warn that you should never allow someone to photograph your driver's license. Your name, address and phone number are all the personal information the driver needs.
As soon as possible, seek medical treatment. Your health and wellbeing are of primary importance. Additionally, your medical report will be a critical part of seeking the insurance benefits or personal injury compensation you deserve.