The general rule of thumb is that whenever you are involved in an auto accident in New Jersey, you should contact the police so that the appropriate police report may be prepared. You don’t know how many times over my 29 years of practicing law that I’ve seen unreported accident statements change from the time of the accident to the final statement date, provided just a few days later. By contacting the police at the time of the accident, it enables law enforcement to memorialize each person’s version of the events at the accident scene. When statements are given to a police officer at an accident scene, they are implicitly reliable because they are given to law enforcement at the time of the investigation and immediately after the happening of the event. No one has a chance to change his version later on.
Moreover, in the event that there is an injury, it is important for the police officer to document this information in the report. If you sustained an injury and no police officer responds to the accident scene, it may become problematic if you file a claim for Personal Injury Protection (PIP) benefits and, ultimately, a lawsuit for personal injuries. When you report an accident to your insurance carrier, one of the first requests from the adjuster will be for you to forward a copy of the police report. Also, in order to receive certain benefits under your auto policy such as Uninsured Motorist Benefits (UM), the accident has to be reported to the police. If it is not reported, you are at risk that your Insurance Carrier will deny coverage.
In addition, if the accident is not your fault and the report is written in such a way that indicates that it was the fault of the other driver, this will assist your insurance company in obtaining repayment of any deductibles that you may have under your collision coverage, in accord with your own policy. Moreover, if you did not sustain an injury but rather sustained property damage but do not have collision coverage, you will be able to use the police report, which is written to show that it was the other person’s fault, to collect the property damage loss sustained by your vehicle, directly from the other driver’s insurance carrier.
In addition, police officers are able to document the names and addresses of eyewitnesses who may not otherwise provide information, had the police not been called.
Also, if the police are notified and respond to the accident scene, the driver’s license number, address, insurance company information and the names and addresses of all passengers involved in the accident may be appropriately documented. Therefore, for all of the reasons stated above, the general rule is that it is best to contact the police so that the accident may be documented, the version of each driver involved in the accident may be recorded in the report and the required insurance information may be gathered by the investigating officer.
If you have been the victim of the negligence of another in an automobile accident, please contact my office as quickly as possible following the subject accident. It is important to consult with us early on so that we may begin the process of fighting for your rights in regard to any potential claim that you may have. The process is complicated and requires the expertise of a qualified New Jersey personal injury attorney. Call us today.