What to do after a hit-and-run in New Jersey

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Bumping another vehicle or property such as a mailbox or a sign can happen. But if you drive off without leaving your information or making sure no one was hurt because you believe there was no damage, it could be considered a hit-and-run in New Jersey.

New Jersey hit-and-run laws warn that leaving the scene of an accident could cost you a fine, suspended license or in more serious cases, jail time. Knowing the proper steps to take if you are involved in a collision or accident could save you from the consequences associated with hit-and-runs.

Hit-and-runs in New Jersey

Some recent data shows that fatal hit-and-run accidents in New Jersey increased 38% from 2013 and 2016. Most of the deaths were pedestrians who were struck by vehicles. Furthermore, distracted driving seemed to be the driving force of the increase.

Regardless of whether you are behind the wheel, on a bicycle or on foot, staying alert to other vehicles on the road and being aware of hit-and-run laws in the state could help prevent a dangerous or severe outcome.

New Jersey hit-and-run laws

The hit-and-run New Jersey statute, Title 39:4-129 defines what happens if someone leaves the scene of an accident. If you strike a person or property, you must immediately stop. If you do not remain at the scene of the accident, you could be charged for a hit-and-run.

If you are guilty of a hit-and-run accident, the fines depend on the severity. The minimum fine ranges between $200 to $400 for a first offense. If someone was injured or killed, it could be considered a third-degree crime and can come with imprisonment on top of a $2,500 to $5,000 fine. This accounts for even if you were not aware of any serious injury caused and therefore, being unaware of bodily injury cannot be used as a defense in court. In addition, a New Jersey hit-and-run conviction could lead to a driver’s license suspension and higher auto insurance premiums.

How hit-and-runs impact car insurance rates in New Jersey

Hit-and-runs are a serious offense. Many people may assume that they classify as an accident since a collision is involved, but leaving the scene of the accident is typically judged more severely than a standard accident. Hit-and-runs can be especially dangerous, especially if someone was injured and needs help.

In New Jersey, a hit-and-run could cause an average premium spike of $1,489, compared to $860 caused by a standard accident. While this is a significant jump, the impact of a hit-and-run in New Jersey is less severe when compared to national average rates.

Average annual full coverage premiums:

Before a hit-and-run After a hit-and-run After a standard accident
New Jersey average $1,757 $3,246 $2,617
National average $1,674 $3,367 $2,405

5 things to do after a hit-and-run in New Jersey

Accidents happen. Even the safest drivers may cause an accident. However, how you handle the situation could make all the difference between a standard accident and the more serious crime of leaving the scene of one. To avoid being charged with a hit-and-run, consider taking the following steps and precautions.

  1. Stop immediately: The hit-and-run New Jersey statute mandates that drivers involved in a collision should stop immediately. Once you leave the scene of the accident, it could classify as a hit-and-run.
  2. Assess the situation and the parties involved: Make sure no one else is injured by asking if everyone is ok. If it is unclear whether someone may be hurt, it could be a good idea to stick around for emergency services.
  3. Call for emergency services: If anyone appears disoriented or hurt, call 911 right away and request help at the scene of the accident. One of the biggest priorities after an accident is to get help for anyone who may be hurt.
  4. Document what happened: If there are no injuries or help is on the way, safely move to the side of the road to assess the damage, take photos and exchange information. If you damaged someone’s property and they are not present, leave your contact information with a brief explanation of what happened.
  5. Call your insurance carrier: Inform your insurance company right away. Doing so before you leave the scene could help you provide any further information while it is still fresh in your mind. Send photos to your carrier showing the extent of the damage.

Will insurance cover a hit-and-run?

If you are the victim of a New Jersey hit-and-run and do not know who struck you or your vehicle, your insurance company will generally step in to cover you if you have uninsured motorist coverage. If the other driver is known, their liability insurance will usually pay for your vehicle’s damage.

If you caused the accident and your car is damaged, liability insurance typically pays for the damages and injuries to others. However, you would need to have collision coverage to help pay for repairs to your vehicle.

Frequently asked questions

What is a hit-and-run accident?

A hit-and-run is also known as leaving the scene of an accident. If you strike an object, such as the rearview mirror of someone’s parked car, and you fail to stop and leave your information, you could be charged with a hit-and-run. In more severe cases, hitting a pedestrian and leaving the scene could result in a serious offense. For example, a hit-and-run could end fatally if an injured pedestrian is not able to call for help.

Will my car insurance pay if someone hit me and left the scene of the accident?

If someone causes an accident and leaves, you may not be able to identify them to collect for damages. Most insurance companies offer uninsured motorist coverage, which will typically pay for your repairs and injuries after a hit-and-run, even if you are not at fault.

Will a hit-and-run raise my car insurance?

A hit-and-run is considered more serious and is more expensive than a standard accident, on average. The average cost of car insurance could double if you get convicted for leaving the scene of an accident.

Methodology

Bankrate utilizes Quadrant Information Services to analyze 2021 rates for all ZIP codes and carriers in all 50 states and Washington, D.C. Quoted rates are based on a 40-year-old male and female driver with a clean driving record, good credit and the following full coverage limits:

  • $100,000 bodily injury liability per person
  • $300,000 bodily injury liability per accident
  • $50,000 property damage liability per accident
  • $100,000 uninsured motorist bodily injury per person
  • $300,000 uninsured motorist bodily injury per accident
  • $500 collision deductible
  • $500 comprehensive deductible

To determine minimum coverage limits, Bankrate used minimum coverages that meet each state’s requirements. Our base profile drivers own a 2019 Toyota Camry, commute five days a week and drive 12,000 miles annually.

These are sample rates and should only be used for comparative purposes.

Incident: Rates were calculated by evaluating our base profile with the following incidents applied: clean record (base), at-fault accident, single speeding ticket, single DUI conviction and lapse in coverage.

Written by
Cynthia Paez Bowman
Personal Finance Contributor
Cynthia Paez Bowman is a finance and business journalist who has been featured in Bankrate, Business Jet Traveler, MSN, CheatSheet.com, Freshome.com and TheSimpleDollar.com. She regularly travels to Africa and the Middle East to consult with women’s NGOs about small business development and works with select startups and women-owned businesses to provide growth and visibility.
Edited by
Insurance Editor