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Joseph M. Ghabour & Associates LLC

You just got into an accident. Your adrenaline is pumping, but it’s important to keep your wits about you.

It’s an unfortunate irony that there are few circumstances less conducive to thinking clearly—but few where it is more important—than the scene of an accident. However, the more familiar you are with the best course of action under these circumstances—the more you rehearse these steps in your mind—the more likely you will act appropriately and effectively despite the shock and daze that inevitably accompany a crash.
      Of course, the extent of your injuries will determine whether or not you are able to follow the steps described below. This chapter is written with a moderate accident in mind, including damage to both vehicles, but whose drivers are able to safely get out of the car, despite possible injuries.

Stop
      The first thing to do is stop your car, if the collision has not already forced you to a stop. The law requires that you stop if you are involved in an auto accident, no matter how minor. If you drive away, you can be charged with a “hit and run” even if the accident was not your fault. Hit and run penalties can be severe, including loss of drivers license, fines and jail, depending on the damage or injuries involved. If possible, move your vehicle to a safe location, out of traffic, so as to avoid further collision. Turn on your hazard lights and set flares or cones if you have them.

Check yourself, your passengers and the other car’s occupants for injuries
      Take a second to tune in to your body, noting any pain, discomfort, numbness or tingling. Nothing is more important than your physical well being, and in a serious accident this should be the first thing you do. Moving your car, or yourself, may be impossible, and may exacerbate any injuries. If there are other people in the car, check to make sure they are okay. If you are able to get out of your car, and if you are at a location in which it is safe to do so, check the other car’s occupants as well. Do not attempt to move a person who is seriously injured, as it could cause permanent damage or paralysis, unless their lives are in immediate danger.
     
Call 911, if necessary
      New Jersey law requires that you call the local, county or state police if the accident caused a death or injury or damage in excess of $500.00. In all but the most minor accidents, it’s also a good idea to call the police from the standpoint of building a successful case: the police report provides insurance companies with proof that the accident took place, and it can be a tremendous asset in your claim if the police officers’ account of the facts are on your side. Once an operator picks up, speak clearly and calmly. Help can be delayed if the location is not clearly communicated. Use landmarks, road signs or mile markers to specify the accident location. Be sure to mention any injuries you or anyone else has suffered. 

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