Frequently Asked Questions About Car Accidents, Motorcycle Accidents and More
The Law Offices of Andrew R. Jacobs provides the answers to questions frequently encountered by attorney Andrew Jacobs as he counsels people regarding car accidents, motorcycle accidents, premises liability and product liability in New Jersey and New York personal injury and wrongful death claims. If you have other questions that weren’t addressed here, or if you or a loved one has been injured due to another’s negligence, contact the Law Offices of Andrew R. Jacobs for a free consultation with an experienced New Jersey personal injury lawyer who has a proven record of results.
What do I do if I have been in a car accident?
Your first concern should be for the safety of yourself and others. Be careful exiting your vehicle and try to move to a location out of traffic. Although normally the vehicles should not be moved until the police arrive, it may be necessary to move them off the road in some circumstances. If emergency medical attention is needed for yourself or others, call 9-1-1, and administer First Aid if you are qualified to do so. It is generally recommended that you not move an unconscious or immobile person unless absolutely necessary, such as to save them from being hit in traffic or if there is a possibility of a fuel-fed fire or automobile explosion.
While waiting for the police to arrive, exchange information with the other drivers, including names and contact information, driver’s license and vehicle plate numbers, and insurance information. Obtain contact information for any passengers or witnesses to the accident as well. If you can, take pictures of the scene, including damage to all the vehicles and the surrounding area. It may also be helpful to write down anything you can remember about the accident while the memory is fresh in your mind.
If the police did not come to the scene, you should report the incident to the police department where the accident occurred, providing a detailed description of the accident. You should also notify your insurance company within this time frame as well.
If you did not require emergency medical treatment at the scene or immediately following the accident, make an appointment to see a doctor soon after the accident. Some injuries may not show up for several days or longer after an accident, but your doctor will want to look you over and may want to perform tests depending upon how you were hit in the accident. For head injuries and other injuries, the sooner you are diagnosed and begin receiving treatment, the more likely you are to have the most optimal recovery.
Finally, contact a personal injury lawyer who is experienced in New Jersey and New York automobile accidents. Like most injury lawyers, Andrew Jacobs does not charge a fee for an initial consultation, so it is worthwhile to seek the advice of a lawyer right away to protect your rights and build the best case possible.
What if I was in a motorcycle accident but wasn’t wearing a helmet?
A helmet is required to be worn by every rider on a motorcycle, including passengers. One consequence is that you could be cited for failing to wear a helmet, but there may be more serious consequences on your personal injury claim. Where a person’s harm is caused by violation of a statute that was intended to prevent that type of harm, the law may say that the person is negligent per se. So if you suffered a head injury because you weren’t wearing a helmet, your recovery could be reduced or denied even if the accident was the other driver’s fault. A lot depends on how much the lack of a helmet contributed to your injuries amid all the circumstances.
What is wrongful death?
In the event that a negligent or wrongful act results in death rather than just serious personal injury, an action for wrongful death can be brought on behalf of the surviving heirs. The heirs can receive pecuniary damages which reflect the loss of services which the decedent would have provided, such as the loss of the primary wage earner or the main caregiver of the children or keeper of the household. Generally, damages for emotional distress or mental anguish are not recoverable unless the plaintiff actually witnessed the death occur.
New Jersey law also recognizes a survival action, which means if the person who died would have had a personal injury action against the defendant had he or she not been killed, then the defendant is still liable for the damages caused. When both a survival action and a wrongful death action exist, they are usually joined together in one lawsuit, which can help maximize the compensation for the family of the victim.