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New Jersey Car Accident Report Basics

Auto accidents are unfortunate events. Nobody wants to deal with them, but almost everyone will have at least one during their life. As a resident of New Jersey, you have certain responsibilities in the aftermath of a car crash. Knowing what they are ahead of time can make things much easier for you.

This article will familiarize you with the automobile laws of New Jersey that deal with accidents. We'll learn about accident reports, how to start an insurance claim, and the best way to deal with auto insurance companies.

Let's dive into New Jersey car accident report basics.

New Jersey Motor Vehicle Laws

You can find New Jersey's motor vehicle law below.

Reporting Accidents

In New Jersey, automobile accidents must be reported if they cause injury, death, or over $500 in property damage. The accident must also be reported to local law enforcement authorities.

If law enforcement officers are not called to the scene of the accident and property damage is the only result, you're required to file an accident report with the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission (MVC) Agency within 10 days of the accident.

If the police respond to the accident and fill out a police report, you are not required to fill out a report for the MVC.

Required Auto Insurance

All New Jersey drivers must have car insurance on any vehicle they're driving. All vehicles registered in New Jersey require three types of mandatory auto insurance.

  • Personal injury protection (PIP) or no-fault coverage pays medical expenses if you or anyone else covered under your policy are injured in a car accident. PIP pays your medical expenses regardless of whether you are at fault.
  • Liability insurance pays others for damages if you’re responsible for an accident. It doesn’t cover medical expenses.
  • Uninsured motorist coverage protects you if you're in an accident with a driver without proper insurance coverage.

All New Jersey drivers are required to show proof of insurance on request.

The minimum amounts of required insurance in New Jersey are as follows:

  • Bodily injury liability: $25,000 per person/$50,000 per accident
  • Property damage liability: $25,000 per accident
  • Personal injury protection (PIP): $15,000 per person
  • Uninsured motorist coverage: Varies

Keep in mind that these are the standard policy minimums. Many motorists choose to have policies with higher coverage amounts. In addition, both collision insurance and comprehensive insurance are options as well.

There’s also a basic policy available with very low minimums. But it's not recommended for most drivers in New Jersey.

Negligence and Fault

As a no-fault state, New Jersey requires drivers in accidents to pay for their own medical expenses with their PIP insurance. This doesn't cover property damage. You'll need to file a claim for damages with your insurance company, which will negotiate with the carrier of the other driver.

New Jersey uses a modified comparative negligence system. This means that whichever driver was more at fault for the accident will be required to pay for the damage to the other vehicle(s), less the determined percentage of fault by the other driver.

For a much deeper examination of liability, at-fault drivers, and payouts, look at FindLaw's New Jersey Car Accident Compensation Laws article.

What To Do After an Accident

Tere will be chaos and confusion in the aftermath of an auto accident. Knowing what to do is always the best approach, and there are a few basic steps to keep in mind.

The first thing to do is check the safety and health of everyone involved, including yourself. It's important to alert the operator of any injuries when you call 911 next.

Don't move the vehicles unless they're in immediate danger of further harm. While the police will also do this, it's a good idea to exchange information with the other driver(s). This includes name, phone number, driver's license number, insurance company name, and insurance policy.

Take pictures of the cars and the accident scene. If there are witnesses, get their contact information. If possible, alert your insurance carrier that you've been in an accident.

Police Reports in New Jersey

The first thing the police will do when arriving is make sure everyone is okay. They'll then begin filling out a police accident report. Try to remain calm as you give your side of the story. Avoid embellishing, and don't lie. Even if you believe you might be at fault, try to avoid admitting so.

The responding officer will make observations and record pertinent information. This will include:

  • Statements from all drivers
  • Data from all involved drivers, including licenses, addresses, insurance information, and contact information
  • Statements and contact info from any witnesses
  • General information, such as weather, time of day, road conditions, traffic signals, and more
  • Vehicle positions after the crash and the visible damage
  • Diagrams showing the type of collision

Since the officer wasn't an accident witness, their report should stick to the objective data at the scene of the accident.

You'll need a copy of the police report for your insurance claim. You can pick it up at the police station in the municipality where the accident occurred, usually 10-14 days after the incident.

If your accident occurred on either the Turnpike or the Garden State Parkway, you can request a crash report on the New Jersey State Police website.

New Jersey Car Accident Report Summary

The following chart offers a quick recap on filing a car accident report in New Jersey. You can find more user-friendly summaries of state statutes in FindLaw's New Jersey Law section.

Relevant New Jersey State Statutes

New Jersey Statutes Chapter 39 (Motor Vehicles & Traffic Regulation) § 4-130

When To Report

You must report an automobile accident to the New Jersey MVC Agency if any of the below occur:

  • Injury

  • Death

  • Property damage more than $500

How To File a Car Crash Report in New Jersey

To file a written car crash report with the New Jersey MVC, which must be done 10 days after the accident, either you, your insurance agent, the owner of the vehicle, or your legal representative must fill out the MVC form. Information required includes the:

  • Cause of the accident

  • Conditions existing at the time of the accident

  • Persons and vehicles involved in the accident

  • Insurance information of all persons involved in the accident

Note: State laws are subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts that include federal decisions, ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

Additional Questions About New Jersey Car Accident Reports

Every accident is unique, but there's often common ground. You may find the following answers helpful for your incident:

It didn't hurt when I had the accident seven months ago, but my shoulder started hurting a few weeks later, and it's killing me now. Can I still file a personal injury suit?

The time you have before it's too late to file a civil action is called a statute of limitations. In New Jersey, you have two years to file a personal injury suit. If you choose to consult with a personal injury lawyer, make sure you have your accident report and all medical bills.

Can the police officer write who they think was responsible for the accident in their report?

Since the officer was not present at the moment of the accident, they can't take the role of a witness. While they're only supposed to report the observable facts of the accident scene, human nature can often creep in. Remember not to outright admit to any guilt, and at the very least, strive to be polite with the officer.

Research the Law

Consider Getting Legal Help With Your New Jersey Car Accident Claim

As you can see, New Jersey has certain guidelines and requirements for reporting an automobile crash. If you have questions or concerns about these requirements or need specific legal advice, a lawyer is your best bet.

Find an experienced personal injury attorney to be in your corner.

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