You do not have to report a minor car accident in New Jersey if no one was injured and there was minimal property damage. Section 4-130 of New Jersey Statutes Title 39 specifies that you must file a police report following a car accident if either of the following is true:
- Anyone involved in the accident was injured
- The crash caused property damage exceeding $500
Further, if your accident meets either of these elements and you do not report it, you could be subject to a fine of up to $100 and suspension of your license and registration. If you’ve been in a car accident, please contact us at Kantrowitz, Goldhamer & Graifman P. C. for a free consultation.
Your Insurance Company’s Requirements are Different
You should know that insurance companies have different definitions of what constitutes a minor accident. Most of them require that you report any accident, even if it did not rise to the level of a mandatory report under New Jersey law. Moreover, your insurer may deny coverage for the crash if you fail to report it within a reasonable amount of time.
Why Some Drivers Decide Not to Report a Minor Accident
Sometimes the other driver will ask you not to file a police report for many reasons– including a possible lack of insurance or other issues with the law. One benefit of not filing a police report is that your insurance rates might still increase even if you were not at fault. So financially, some drivers involved in minor accidents will decide that it makes more sense not to report it.
However, the insurance company may find out anyway and still raise your rates. The one situation where it is advisable not to file a report is in a minor single-vehicle accident– such as you backed into your mailbox, were uninjured, and sustained only slight damage to your vehicle.
You Should File a Police Report No Matter What
If you are involved in an accident with another vehicle, the best course of action is to file a police report. While you may feel fine, and it may look like you only have a small dent on your bumper, you should still think twice about complying with the other driver’s wishes.
Even a minor car accident can cause your adrenaline levels to rise. Because of this, you may not feel the pain from your injuries until hours later. Similarly, some injuries commonly associated with car accidents, such as whiplash, may not surface until days later. By not filing a police report or seeking immediate medical attention, you may limit your ability to recover financial compensation. There will be no documentation of the crash and therefore no documented cause of your injuries.
Along those same lines, even though it may appear that the damage to your car was minor, you may later discover that it was much more serious. However, by the time you make that discovery, you may have no means for legal recourse because you cannot find the other driver, and again– there is no documentation of the accident.
The Right Lawyer Can Make a Big Difference
There can be some difficult decisions to make after a minor car accident. At Kantrowitz, Goldhamer & Graifman, P.C., we urge you to consult with an experienced car accident lawyer as soon as possible following your crash. It may provide you with the information you need to make the best decision under your particular circumstances.
Contact Us for a Free Consultation
For nearly half a century, we have been advocating for injured victims. We pride ourselves on being “big enough to do it all, small enough to care.” If you have questions about what to do following a minor car accident here in New Jersey, call the car accident law firm of Kantrowitz, Goldhamer & Graifman, P.C. to schedule a free consultation. We work on a contingency fee basis, meaning our clients never pay us anything unless they win their case.