Princeton University and its surrounding environs make up the center of our town and, needless to say, we see the most traffic incidents around that area. Nassau Street is crowded at the beginning and ending of rush hour, and highway entrances and exits host unfolding drama almost every minute of the day. The smallest thing can go wrong, and you cannot always plan for other people’s poor choices.
When another person causes a crash, New Jersey generally requires you to first go through your own insurance. But, it can be more complicated than that—since we’re a “mixed” no-fault and fault insurance state, you may have to try to get money from the other guy’s insurance, at least for some of your accident expenses, if he’s judged to be “at fault.”
Getting the amount you’re owed isn’t easy, and the insurance company in question may not have your best interests as its first priority. This can be hard to spot if they quickly offer you a cash payout, because that makes it seem like they’re trying to do the right thing. However, though an insurance company is supposed to give you money after a crash, they squeeze more profits out by giving you as little money as possible. So it’s in your best interests not to accept that offer, but to talk to a Princeton car accident attorney first.
Let’s explore a fictional scenario.
What Could Have Happened
Suppose you stopped by the Princeton Public Library after work to grab the latest bestseller and a scholarly subject to sink into for the weekend. As you exit the parking lot, you decide to go up John Street to avoid the main roads. As you head north, another vehicle jumps out at Quarry, and you can’t completely avoid it. The collision is louder and more jarring than you expect, because that vehicle is still moving and pushes you into the next lane.
Your body jerks and jolts during the impact, and now, you feel dizzy and almost numb with shock. Maybe this is whiplash? Could it be a concussion? You don’t think your head hit anything, though.
You look for the vehicle that turned in front of you, causing the crash. It’s a dozen yards ahead, over to the right side of the road. You realize your car is near the center of John Street, and other vehicles are going around your stopped car. One of them pulls over and the driver asks if he can help “I think I’m okay,” you say, because it’s probably natural to feel like this after suffering an accident. Should you call the police? Should you move your car? Should you call your insurance company right now?
What Should Happen
Lependorf & Silverstein, P.C., wants to give you a little insight from a personal injury law firm in Princeton. Most importantly: you can have a concussion even if you think your head did not hit anything. Any violent shaking of the brain in the skull can cause a traumatic brain injury, and in the heat of the moment, you may not have noticed. You should get medical attention as soon as possible, whether you visit Penn Medicine in Plainsboro or make a same-day appointment with your own doctor.
Yes; you should definitely call the police. If your vehicle is not blocking traffic and you are not in any danger from being hit where you are, stay put until the police arrive. If there’s even the slightest chance another vehicle can hit you in the road, move your car (assuming it still operates).
Yes, you should inform your insurer, but do not give a recorded statement or take blame for the crash. Direct your energy toward the police, and cooperate with them. Take photos at the scene, and grab contact information from eyewitnesses to use later.
After an accident, you will start receiving phone calls from a claims adjuster to discuss what happened. Before you know it, he may be offering you an amount to settle and close the case. It’s vital to keep in mind that insurance companies try to pay out as little as possible, whether it is your company or the at-fault driver’s. The amount they offer almost certainly is not what you’re actually entitled to.
You never want to accept an offer before consulting with a lawyer. If you agree to an amount that’s too low, you won’t be able to request more compensation later and will end up being responsible for the rest of your bills from the accident.
What You Can Do
Call our Princeton office at (609) 240-0040 after you’ve experienced a collision. Lependorf & Silverstein offers free help to crash victims, whether it’s getting a copy of your police report or handling your back and forth with the insurance company, if we represent you in a claim. Since we work on a contingency fee, you pay no upfront fees and only owe us if we collect that fair compensation for you.