People do not plan to be involved in car accidents, but they sometimes happen unexpectedly. Whether you are at fault or not for an accident, you will have to deal with multiple things following it. Dealing with the aftermath of a motor vehicle accident can be a real headache for most people. If you suffered injuries in your accident, your first priority should be to seek prompt medical care. After you have sought medical care, you will then need to complete several other steps that are time-dependent, including filing an accident report and potentially filing a lawsuit. At Elmer’s Auto Body, we can work with you and your insurance company to repair your car while you attend to the other tasks that you will have to handle that are accident-related. In this article, we will provide you with some information about the steps that you should take, the timing of filing different documents and claims, and when you should complete different actions after your car accident.
Reporting a car accident
After a minor accident, you might not want to report it. However, there are few situations in which a report is unnecessary. Under New Jersey law, you must report any accident in which the damage exceeds $500 by filing an accident report with the state. However, if the damage was very minor, and no one was injured, you might not want to report an accident to your insurance company. In that situation, the damage may be less than your deductible. Your insurance company might also react by raising your insurance premiums. Low-speed crashes that have damage that appears minor may sometimes cost more than you might think.
If you cause damage to someone else’s property in an accident for which you were at fault, you should report it to your insurance company. This applies even if your accident was a single-vehicle accident. For example, if you glance down at your cell phone and run off of the road and run over someone’s mailbox, you will need to report your accident to the property owner and your insurance company. Even if your accident was not your fault, you still might want to call your insurance company.
How long do you have to report an accident?
If you are involved in a collision with another driver, you should call the police to report it from the scene. You should never leave the scene of an accident before help arrives. If you do, you could be charged with leaving the scene of an accident even if it was not your fault.
New Jersey requires people to file accident reports with the state within 10 days of when their accidents occurred. This report must be filed for any accident that results in damage of more than $500 or an injury or fatality.
For reporting an accident with another vehicle to your insurance company, you should do so as soon as possible. You may report the accident from the scene. A majority of insurance companies have 24-hour accident report numbers and mobile apps that you can use to report an accident. If your accident only involved your vehicle, you might want to wait to call your insurance company until you have had a chance to review your policy so that you can make a better decision about whether to report it to your company. Many companies have requirements for their policyholders to file claims within a specific time after an accident. You will need to check your policy or ask your insurance agent about this requirement.
Statute of limitations for filing a car accident lawsuit
Most car accidents will not lead to lawsuits. However, if you were seriously injured in an accident that was caused by someone else, you may need to file a lawsuit to ensure that the insurance company will provide you with sufficient compensation to pay for your losses. All of the states have statutes of limitations for filing lawsuits. These are legal time periods for when you must file a lawsuit. If you fail to file your lawsuit within the prescribed time, you will lose your right to file a lawsuit to recover damages in the future. In New Jersey, the statute of limitations for filing a personal injury lawsuit is two years from the date of your injury. Since accidents must be thoroughly investigated to build a strong personal injury case, it is best to consult with a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible after your injury accident to provide him or her with plenty of time to build a case for you.
There are also different time limits for different types of lawsuits. For example, if your insurance company engages in bad faith practices when handling your claim such as unreasonably dragging it out or refusing to pay your valid claim, you may file a bad faith insurance claim. The statute of limitations in New Jersey for bad faith insurance claims is six years. However, many insurance companies include limitations in their policies to limit the time to file a bad faith insurance lawsuit. You will want to check your policy to see if this type of time limit is included in your policy.
After an accident, you will have many things to deal with. Whether or not you were injured, you may have to also deal with car repairs. In many cases, it is possible to settle the property damage portion of your insurance claim while the injury portion is still being negotiated. Elmer’s Auto Body has decades of experience helping people to get the repairs that they need to their vehicles after car accidents. We can work with your insurance company to make certain that your vehicle will be restored to the condition it was in before your accident. To learn more or to schedule a repair estimate, contact us today by filling out our online contact form or calling one of our three New Jersey locations.