Lieberman, Ryan & Forrest, L.L.C.
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What should I do if I have an auto accident?

As a New Jersey driver, you know that you face an ever-present risk of being involved in an auto accident. As FindLaw explains, should this risk turn into an actuality, there are several things you should do immediately after your accident.

The most important thing you should never do immediately after an accident is to indicate to anyone that you may have been the person at fault. Even if you think you may have been, an auto accident is a highly stressful event at best, and you may not be thinking clearly. Nor is there any way for you to know right away exactly what happened. That is what law enforcement and insurance company investigations will establish.

First things first

The very first thing you should do after an auto accident is determine if you and your passengers are injured. If so, call 911 immediately, report the accident and its location, and request medical and law enforcement assistance. Even if you and your passengers appear to be okay, make this call if the occupants of any other vehicle appear to be injured.

Collect information

While waiting for first responders and law enforcement officers to arrive, exchange information with all other drivers, including the following:

  • Name, address and phone number
  • Driver’s license and license plate number
  • Insurance carrier

Get the name and contact information for passengers in all the vehicles involved. If there are any witnesses, such as people in other vehicles who stopped to help or pedestrians who saw what happened, get their contact information, too.

Use your cellphone to take pictures of the following:

  • All vehicles involved in the accident, including multiple angles of each so as to document damage or lack thereof
  • Any traffic signals, signs or barriers in the immediate vicinity
  • Road conditions, such as rain, snow, ice and/or potholes, etc.
  • General conditions, such as natural and artificial lighting

Finally, call your insurance company and report the accident, even if you believe that you and your passengers are okay and your own vehicle has suffered no damage. When law enforcement officers arrive, get each officer’s name and badge number. Ask them to make an accident report, get its number, and find out when and where you can obtain a copy. While this information should not be taken as legal advice, it can help you understand the process and what to expect.

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