Do I Need to Report a Car Accident in New Jersey?

Drivers in New Jersey are required to report most car accidents to the police and to the Motor Vehicle Commission.

By , Attorney

Each state, including New Jersey, has rules about when and how drivers are required to report car accidents to local and state authorities. If you've been involved in an accident in New Jersey, following these rules is important to protect yourself and to lay the foundation for a potential car insurance claim or car accident lawsuit.

Car Accident Reporting Requirements in New Jersey

Under New Jersey law, you are required to report a car accident when the accident involves one or more of the following:

  • the death of a human being,
  • an injury to any person (including the driver), or
  • property damage to any one person in excess of $500.

(N.J. Stat. § 39:4-130 (2023).)

Immediately Report the Accident to the Police

Using the "quickest means of communication possible" drivers must report the accident to one of the following authorities:

  • the local police department
  • the nearest office of the county police, or
  • the New Jersey State Police.

For most drivers, the "quickest means of communication possible" is a phone call from the scene of the accident.

Make a Written Report to the Motor Vehicle Commission

Drivers are also required to send a written report to the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission on a form provided by the commission within 10 days of the accident. The report should describe the accident, name the people and vehicles involved in the accident, and include details about accident-related property damage and injuries.

If a law enforcement officer responds to the scene and prepares a car accident police report, drivers aren't required to submit their own report. Officers are required to submit their written reports to the Motor Vehicle Commission within five days of the officer's investigation of the accident.

(N.J. Stat. § 39:4-131 (2023).)

What Should Incapacitated Drivers Do?

A seriously injured driver may not be able to immediately report an accident or submit a written report within 10 days of the accident. Under New Jersey law, a passenger or owner of the vehicle involved in the accident can make the necessary reports for the driver when the driver is physically incapable.

As a practical matter, when a car accident involves serious injuries, someone will call 911. Police officers are typically dispatched to an accident scene in response to a 911 call along with firefighters and emergency medical services. An officer will investigate the accident, prepare a written report, and send the report to the Motor Vehicle Commission.

Drivers who didn't report an accident because they were seriously injured should reach out to the law enforcement agency that responded to the crash to confirm that the accident has been properly reported or talk to a lawyer.

Penalties for Not Reporting an Accident

Drivers who knowingly fail to report an accident must pay a fine of not less than $30 or more than $100 and may have their vehicle registration and driver's license suspended or revoked.

Reporting an Accident to an Insurance Company

All standard car insurance policies require policyholders to report all car accidents that could trigger coverage to their insurer as soon as possible. If you don't report an accident, your insurer may deny coverage for the crash or cancel your policy.

Learn more about how to contact your insurance company after an accident.

You've Reported the Accident—What's Next?

Reporting a car accident is just the first step. You'll want to take additional steps to protect yourself and your car accident claim.

For example, some car accident evidence can only be gathered at the scene. If you are safe and physically capable, be sure to:

  • exchange information with anyone involved in the accident
  • talk to witnesses who may have seen or heard the crash
  • take pictures of the accident scene, and
  • locate and preserve video of the accident.

Talk to a Lawyer

If you've been involved in a car accident in New Jersey, talk to a lawyer. A lawyer can answer your questions about New Jersey car accident laws, including reporting requirements and no-fault insurance rules.

Learn more about hiring a car accident lawyer. When you're ready, you can connect with a lawyer directly from this page for free.

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