Towing a Car Accident in NJ – Things You Should Know

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Accidents happen. We hear that so often. While they do happen, none of us think they will happen to us. However, the reality is; you will probably be involved in an accident at least once in your life, and for some unlucky ones, this can happen several times.

Accidents happen unexpectedly and the residents of New Jersey are not exempt.  In 2022, 705 drivers lost their lives due to car accidents. Unfortunately, most accidents happen due to unsafe driving behaviors that put their lives and those of others at risk.

When an accident occurs, it is a sudden event. This can cause adrenaline rush and shock, and prevent you from thinking clearly. You may also be experiencing severe injuries and massive property damage.

One of the things you may need to do after an accident is to tow your car. 

In this article, we will explore things you need to know while towing a car accident in NJ. However, before that, we will briefly look at what to do if you are involved in a car accident.

 Involved in a car accident? Steps to take

  1. Don’t leave the accident scene, regardless of how minor the accident may look. Leaving the scene may lead to ‘hit and run’ charges.
  2. Move to a safe location. Avoid lingering or leaning on the damaged vehicles; it may be unsafe, especially if there are leaking fluids such as engine oil and gas.
  3. Immediately call 911 for medical attention and the police. Even if the accident is minor, ensure you see a doctor. Injuries and pain may not be apparent due to shock and adrenaline.
  4. Protect the accident scene. Ensure you have put the hazard blinkers, flares, and other beacons to warn other drivers of the accidents. However, avoid tampering with evidence.
  5. The police will document the accident, which may become essential in the future while filing for an insurance claim or court case. Ensure you tell the police everything you remember about the accident, and don’t hide anything or apologize for the accident. Apologizing means admitting the mistake.
  6. Ask for a copy of the accident report, the officer’s name, and service number. You may need them at a later date.
  7. Collect data by talking to onlookers or those who have witnessed the accident, and remember to take the information of the other involved parties. Collecting your evidence is essential when claiming compensation.
  8. Call the insurance company and report the accident. Delayed reporting may affect your insurance claim. Stick to facts, and don’t make any accusations or acceptance. Remember that insurance companies look for slight mistakes from your side to reduce your claim.
  9. Call a towing company. Most insurance companies have preferred towing companies and policies. Ensure you strictly follow that to avoid claim problems.
  10. After an accident, your motor vehicle may require towing at your discretion or that of the police. The police may decide to have your car towed due to its damage, the amount of danger it poses to other users on the road, if it impedes traffic flow, or it’s declared written off.

Steps to take during the towing process

  • Call your insurance company

Use the insurance-approved towing companies. Some insurance premiums  fully or partially cover towing charges. Ensure you ask them before engaging  another company. However, if your vehicle is posing immediate danger or causing traffic jams, the police may call the towing company. 

  • Remove your personal things from the car

Depending on the severity of your car’s damage, it may take days or months to get it back. Ensure you remove your stuff. Don’t leave any valuables or documents in the vehicle.

  • Know the final towing destination

It’s important to know which yard your car is being towed to and request the towing company to take it to an insurance approved yard or an auto repair shop. Doing so will ensure you keep track of your car, save on storage charges, and you will be assured of fast assessment. 

However, if you don’t have an idea where your car was towed to, you can use the towed vehicle locator web to know the exact location. To successfully use this method, use your car license plate and VIN. Alternatively, call the NJ information hotline and provide your name, car model, insurance policy, and license number. 

If the above doesn’t work, the police officer who called the towing company may help.

  • Get the tow driver’s documentation

Before your car gets towed, get the driver’s name, company identification, company affiliation, and contact information, and remember to get the truck’s license plate. Ask for an instant receipt. Remember, there may be some unscrupulous towing companies who may charge expensively and steal your car parts.

Never give your towing company your insurance information.

  • Understand the towing cost

If the officer at the crime scene assigns the person at fault, they carry all the liability, including towing charges. However, in most accidents deciding the faulty party can take days. If you have collision coverage, the insurance may cater for towing charges, but you pay first, and they deduct them from your next installments. 

However, if you have roadside assistance coverage, the insurance company will provide towing services and pay without you paying a dime. 

Depending on your policy, the insurance company may request you to make an upfront payment and later reimburse you. Remember, the insurance companies only compensate on what is deemed reasonable. In case your car is functioning; they may only cater for a certain towing distance and storage time, ask you to cater for the rest.

If at fault and unable to repay the towing charges, inform your insurance immediately. If the other party is at fault, it’s advisable to wait until they complete the investigation. After the at-fault insurance company finishes investigating, they may decide to repair the car or give you compensation in exchange for the car title. 

Remember that insurance clarifies any other expenses and fees not associated with personal injury as a property damage claim. In other words, if the at-fault insurance company pays for property damage, it should also include towing charges. 

  • The estimated cost

Towing costs differ according to the town ordinances, car type, and service offered, however, towing companies can charge hourly or distance rates but not both, and the storage.

The towing company’s other charge may include storage services (charged daily), after cleaning services, documentation fee (both charged once, and the costs differ depending on the size of the car). So the longer your vehicle stays at the towing yard, the more expensive it becomes.

Towing charges in New Jersey start at $155. 

  • Hire an attorney 

After an accident, the legal process can become a complicated affair, especially if the other driver is at fault. This happens since the insurance company may try to find you at fault, thus reducing your compensation, and limiting compensation. 

Instead of dealing with insurance and towing companies, let your accident lawyer in NJ handle them and fight for the proper compensation while you rest and recover. The attorney’s main goal is to maximize your payout and get you justice.

Final thoughts on towing a car accident in NJ

Accidents can leave you  in a state of confusion, pain, damage, and financial stress.

Sometimes, we may want to drive the car to avoid towing charges, but this can lead to more danger. 

If your car is motorable, don’t force it. Allow the towing companies to assist you but keep tabs by following the above pointers. It’s your right for the towing companies to store your car in a safe yard, choose where you want it taken, and get it back any time after you have cleared their fee.

Always remember there is only one sane driver on the road; that is you. Drive safely and stay alive.