New Jersey Car Accident Law

If you’re in a crash on the Jersey Turnpike or anywhere in the Garden State, you’ll need to know New Jersey’s car accident laws.
Written by Sarah Gray
Reviewed by Kathleen Flear
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In
New Jersey
, drivers are required to file a report with the police and an accident report with the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission (MVC) within 10 days. In addition, motorists can claim damages through their insurance providers or by filing a personal injury lawsuit.
This guide includes everything you need to know about New Jersey’s car accident laws in order to keep a clean
driving record
, from when and how to report a crash to how to determine financial responsibility.

What to do after a crash: New Jersey car accident reporting laws

The first thing you should do
after a car accident
is make sure you and your passengers are safe. If you can, move your car to a safe location, then check everyone for injuries. 
If anyone is hurt, call 911 immediately. You should also do your best to document the crash as thoroughly as possible by taking photos and talking with anyone who may have witnessed the event. Finally, don’t forget to exchange insurance information with the other driver or drivers involved in the crash.
Your responsibilities don’t end there, though. In New Jersey, you may need to report your crash to three offices:
  • To the police
  • The MVC
  • Your insurance company 
Let’s take a closer look at how and when to report an accident in New Jersey.

When to report an accident to the police

If you’re in a crash resulting in injury to or death of any person, or over $500 of damage to any one person’s personal property, you will need to file a police report within 10 days by submitting a written account of the accident to:
  • The local police department
  • The nearest office of the county police
  • The nearest office of the State Police
If officers respond to the scene of your crash, their filed report will fulfill this requirement.
MORE: How to file a car accident claim report

When to report an accident to the MVC

Any vehicle accident that requires a police report must also be reported to the MVC by mailing
Form SR-1
to the NJ Department of Transportation at this address: 1035 Parkway Ave, P.O. Box 600, Trenton, NJ 08625-0600
This needs to be done within 10 days. To complete the form, you’ll need to provide:
  • The name, address, and insurance information of both parties
  • Your driver’s license number 
  • Your vehicle’s make, model, and VIN
The form also asks for a detailed description of the accident, as well as the date, time, and location of the event. 
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Financial responsibility and coverage minimums: New Jersey’s insurance laws

Though it’s very important to ensure you tick all the boxes when reporting a car accident to the police and the state, many of us will be equally worried about submitting a claim to the appropriate insurance company correctly—and quickly as well. 
Like most states, New Jersey requires all drivers to
purchase car insurance
to cover damages in the event they’re responsible for an accident. To drive legally in New Jersey, motorists must carry
minimum liability coverage
in the following amounts:
In addition to minimum liability coverage, New Jersey’s status as a
no-fault state
means drivers must also carry a minimum of 25/50 in
uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage
, meaning:
  • $25,000 of uninsured motorist bodily injury per person
  • $50,000 of bodily injury per accident
A minimum of $15,000 per person in
personal injury protection
(PIP) is also required.
Drivers who fail to carry the minimum insurance—or who fail to provide
proof of insurance
following an accident or during a traffic stop—can be fined between $300 and $1,000 for the first offense and up to $5,000 for subsequent offenses. In addition, failure to carry or provide proof of insurance could result in
license suspension
, community service, and even jail time.
Keep in mind: If your license is suspended, you'll need your insurance provider to file an
SR-22
on your behalf in order to get your license reinstated.

Claiming damages after an accident: New Jersey’s personal injury laws

As a no-fault state, drivers in New Jersey must first exhaust their car insurance policy coverages before making any claims for damages from another driver. This would include a PIP claim to cover economic damages such as medical bills, lost wages, or burial expenses. A PIP claim does not, however, compensate for non-economic damages like pain and suffering.
When New Jersey drivers select their car insurance, they have the option of “Basic” liability coverage or “Standard” coverage, which can increase liability limits. It also offers the driver the choice between a limited or unlimited right to sue another driver for pain and suffering. 
If you’ve selected a limited standard policy, you can only file a personal injury lawsuit for pain and suffering if the vehicle accident resulted in:
  • Loss of a body part
  • Significant disfigurement
  • Significant scarring
  • A displaced fracture
  • Loss of a fetus
  • Permanent injury
  • Death 
Drivers with unlimited standard policies may sue for pain and suffering regardless of circumstance. Whether your standard policy is limited or unlimited, the statute of limitations on personal injury lawsuits for New Jersey is set at two years.

Exceptions to New Jersey’s personal injury laws

New Jersey’s no-fault status is designed specifically to limit the need for third-party claims and personal injury suits, so there aren’t many exceptions besides those already mentioned. This is why drivers need to think carefully when making their policy selections to ensure they maximize their options in case of an accident that results in severe injuries that may not be covered by their policy. 
If you do find yourself filing a personal injury lawsuit in New Jersey, keep in mind that, as a modified comparative negligence state, you will only be entitled to collect damages for pain and suffering from another driver in proportion to the amount of fault you are found to carry yourself. In other words, you can only collect that if you’re found to be less than 50% at fault.
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Who’s to blame: New Jersey’s modified comparative negligence law

When determining how to award damages in a personal injury suit, determining who’s at fault is the most important step. Rarely is fault an all-or-none situation, and the amount of fault you’re found to carry for an accident in a
modified comparative negligence state
like New Jersey will help determine how much you can collect in damages during a civil suit.
As long as you’re determined to be less than 50% at fault, you can still collect damages for pain and suffering. Unless you’re found completely innocent, you won’t collect 100% of what you’re awarded. Let’s look at an example.
Let’s say you’re in an accident with another driver, and you’re found 45% at fault. This means you can still collect damages, but only up to 55% of what’s awarded. That means if the judge awards you $10,000 in damages, you’ll only be eligible to receive $5,500.

How to save money on car insurance in New Jersey

The purpose of no-fault insurance is to lower the cost of car insurance by lowering the instances of court cases. But that doesn’t mean finding
cheap car insurance
is always the easiest thing to do in New Jersey—unless you’re shopping with
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