A car accident is shocking -- no matter how minor or severe it may be. No one starts their day thinking they’ll be involved in a vehicle crash. When it happens, you may not understand the extent of the damage and why it can be important in a claim. In this blog post, we review the differences between a minor and serious accident.
Requirements for Reporting an Accident
Many states have laws that dictate when you must report an accident. While there is not a technical definition of a “minor car accident”, the extent of damage caused by the accident determines whether or not you need to report the accident. In serious car accidents or any accident involving an injury, the police will often be called to the scene. But what about minor accidents or fender-benders?
Under New Jersey’s Division of Motor Vehicles law, if a driver is involved in a car accident, he or she is required to report it to law enforcement if the crash involved more than $500 of property damage. It’s always best to call the police to the scene. Given the costs of auto repairs and body work these days, even a minor fender-bender can have more than $500 worth of property damage. Because it’s hard to estimate property damage or assess physical harm at the scene of the accident, calling the police and filing a report helps to protect your best interests.
If the police don’t show up to the accident or you didn’t call them to the scene, you can file a self-reported crash report yourself, New Jersey Form SR-1, within 10 days of the accident with the New Jersey Department of Transportation. You can file a report online or download a form and mail it in. Failure to do so could result in loss of driving or registration privileges in the state.
New York law requires that drivers report accidents causing more than $1000 in damage and/or results in injury or death. They also require police notification if you hit a parked car or domestic animal. Similar to New Jersey, those involved in an accident in which the police were not called to the scene can fill out a self-reported crash form.
You should consider any vehicle crash a serious accident if it results in personal injury. Like property damage to your car, it can be difficult to determine the extent of your injuries without a medical evaluation. Common injuries like whiplash and other soft tissue injuries may be slow to present themselves. It’s important to seek medical treatment as soon as you notice the onset of symptoms. Medical treatment not only begins the healing process but also provides valuable documentation in the event of a personal injury claim.
Both New Jersey and New York are no-fault insurance states, which means that your own auto insurance will pay for your injuries under Personal Insurance Protection (PIP) insurance, regardless of who was at-fault in the accident. If your injuries are severe and your PIP coverage is not enough to cover the cost of your injuries, you may have the option to file a personal injury claim against the at-fault parties. Contact a car accident lawyer after an injury accident to understand your options for seeking compensation.
Examples of Minor Damage in Car Accidents
Minor damage in a car accident is typical after a fender-bender or crash at very low speeds in which your vehicle is driveable after the incident. These examples of damage are generally considered to be minor damage, though keep in mind they still may cost well over the reporting thresholds required by state law:
- Busted headlight/taillight
- Small dents in the bumper, doors or side of the vehicle
- Cracked windshield
- Punctured tires
Don’t equate the level of damage done to your vehicle with injuries that may occur because of the accident. Even accidents causing a minor amount of damage can cause injury. As stated above, it’s very important to seek medical attention and contact an attorney if you’ve been injured in a car accident.
Speak to the Car Accident Lawyers at Brandon J. Broderick, Attorney at Law
While you do have a legal responsibility to inform the police any time you have been involved in a motor vehicle accident with a certain threshold of damage, we strongly advise you to contact our firm and speak with an experienced car accident lawyer at once. It can be hard to determine if you have a case and what your options are without the help of an attorney.
At Brandon J. Broderick, Attorney at Law, we believe in exceptional client care, empathy, and results. That’s what makes us one of the top-rated car accident law firms in the area. With offices in New Jersey, New York, Connecticut and Florida, we’ve got you covered. We have decades of experience championing for our clients and succeeding, even when other attorneys say there is no case and insurance adjusters deny or devalue your claim. Contact us today for a free consultation.