In the event of an accident, the state of New Jersey imposes certain obligations on the driver who was involved in the accident, which are outlined in N.J.S.A. 39:4-129. These obligations are binding even if the only damage was to the driver’s vehicle. Damaging property apart from the driver’s car i.e. street signs, mailboxes, utility poles, etc. also applies.
No matter how trivial the accident seems, the provisions in this statute are triggered by anything as small as the tiniest scratch or a tire scuff mark. If you fail to comply, you expose yourself to a charge called leaving the scene of an accident.
These requirements are only applicable to drivers of cars that have been involved in an accident. The law doesn’t apply to passengers, or persons who were mere witnesses to the accident. While a moral obligation for the latter exists, there is no legally binding reason for them to stay.
The state of New Jersey imposes strict penalties for persons found to be in violation of these provisions. The penalties are equivalently severe in the case of extensive property damage as they are if there’s nothing more than a tiny scratch and nobody got hurt as a result of the accident. However, where one or more persons is injured or killed, there are more severe penalties on conviction.
A convicted person, who left the scene of an accident where a person was injured or killed may be fined a minimum of $2,500 though this fine can go as high as $5,000. The judge may also impose a jail term of up to 180 days.
According to New Jersey law, however, if the convicted person was the only one injured, the imprisonment will not be imposed.
The requirements for leaving the scene of an accident, depend on whether other persons are present or not. If there are persons present, the law demands that the driver stop immediately at the scene or as close as possible to it. In a way that causes minimal traffic obstruction.
Before leaving the scene, the driver must provide his name and address to the owner of the damaged property, including drivers of other cars involved, any police officer in the vicinity or any person who witnessed the accident. In addition, he must show his license and registration to those individuals.
When others are not present, New Jersey law requires the driver to stop and try to find the operator/owner of the property and notify them the name and address of the owner and driver of the vehicle which hit the unattended property.
If the owner cannot be located immediately, the driver must attach a written notice with the above details in a conspicuous place. They must also notify the nearest police station and then notify the owner when their identity has been established.
If a person other than the driver causing the car accident has been injured, the above requirements are applicable, but the driver must additionally provide the information stated above to any person who got injured in the accident.
He must also provide reasonable assistance to the injured party, like taking them to the hospital or a nearby medical caregiver, where treatment is deemed necessary and/or requested by the injured person.
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