Person on phone, reporting a car accident. | Maggiano, DiGirolamo & Lizzi

What Happens If You Don’t Report a Car Accident to Your Insurance?

Failing to report a car accident could be a decision you come to regret. Accidents happen. However, what you do after a car accident is critical not just for your immediate situation, but for your future as well.

One of your primary obligations is to report the car accident to your insurance company. But what happens if you don’t? The implications can range from financial penalties to legal consequences.

If you have been injured in a car accident, there is no step more important than seeking medical attention for your injuries. When stable, you must report a car accident to your insurance company. However, before giving a statement or negotiating a settlement, call the car accident lawyers at Maggiano, DiGirolamo & Lizzi at (201) 585-9111 (New Jersey) or (212) 543-1600 (New York) for a FREE case review.

Why Should I Report an Accident to My Insurance?

It’s not just a good idea to report an accident to your insurance company—your policy often requires it. Insurance policies usually have clauses that dictate a set timeframe within which you must report any accidents. They often require you to report anywhere from 24 hours to a month after the accident, but each policy differs.

It is important to know what your deadline is. These deadlines allow your insurance company to promptly investigate the claim, assess the damage, and determine liability.

In general, you should always ensure you understand your insurance policy’s terms. Policies often contain language about a “duty to report” and “cooperate” with the insurance company in the aftermath of an accident. If you’re unclear about these terms, consult your insurance policy. Or, better yet, consult a car accident attorney to help you understand the contractual obligations you’ve agreed to.

What Are the Financial Consequences of Failing To Report a Car Accident?

Failing to report a car accident can lead to unforeseen financial repercussions such as:

Denial of Your Insurance Claim

Your insurance company may deny your claim outright if you don’t report the accident within the timeframe outlined in your policy. In that case, you will not be able to obtain compensation for your injuries through that route.

Out-of-Pocket Costs

If you fail to report a car accident and another party later makes a claim against your insurance for compensation, your insurance company could say that you never reported an accident and refuse to make good on your coverage. Then, you would have to pay out of pocket.

Lack of Documentation

Accident reports can also be used to document the event should there be a lawsuit. If you failed to report a car accident but are claiming damages, it could be argued that there never was an accident or that it wasn’t as impactful as you are now declaring. This could hinder your case and chances for compensation.

Higher Premiums

You risk higher insurance premiums in the future if the insurance company finds out about the accident later on.

What Are the Legal Repercussions of Failing To Report a Car Accident?

Failing to report an accident to the authorities under certain circumstances, such as when someone is injured or there is significant property damage, is illegal. This is separate from failing to report to your insurance company but can also affect your insurance claims and legal standing.

Read More: Do I Need To Call the Police After a Car Accident?

In New Jersey and New York, you have 10 days from the date of the car accident to file your accident report with authorities. New Jersey Statutes § 39:4-130 requires that a report be filed in the event of a personal injury, death, or property damage exceeding $500. New York’s Vehicle and Traffic Law § 605 extends the property damage minimum to $1,000.

Document, Document, Document

A good rule of thumb after any accident is to document everything. This not only helps your insurance claim but can also be essential if you end up at trial. Take photos of the accident scene, collect witness information, and save all medical and repair bills. Your attorney will be grateful for this if it comes to litigation.

What Is the Statute of Limitations on a Car Accident?

A statute of limitations is the legal timeframe within which you must file a lawsuit for a car accident. If you fail to file within this period, you’ll likely lose your right to seek compensation through the courts. The statute of limitations on a car accident in New Jersey is 2 years, and in New York is 3 years. However, there are circumstances under which those terms could change.

This is another area in which the importance of legal counsel is clear. It is essential to consult a car accident attorney after a crash, particularly one that resulted in injuries or significant property damage. A knowledgeable attorney can guide you through deadlines, insurance claims, potential litigation, and more.

Read More: What Can I Do If I Think I Missed the Statute of Limitations?

Why Contact a Car Accident Lawyer?

Failing to report a car accident is a risky decision that can result in financial hardship and legal complications. Insurance is supposed to protect you in times like these, but that protection is conditional. Your obligation to report is the first condition. Consulting with a skilled personal injury attorney is often the best way to understand your legal options and rights.

At Maggiano, DiGirolamo & Lizzi, we are driven by justice, defined by courage, and inspired by our clients. If you were injured in a car accident and have questions or believe you have a claim, contact us for a FREE case evaluation.

Allow us to guide you through the legal maze you may be facing. We serve clients throughout New Jersey and New York and would love to help you pursue the compensation you deserve for your injuries.