You should contact an attorney in New Jersey. You can find a New Jersey firm via the AVVO site. Did the police come to the scene and write up a report? If so, was the other driver found to be at fault? Did you accept or reject insurance coverage offered at the time you rented the car? Were you injured in the collision? These are all important issues.
You may always hire a local attorney; however as suggested, it may be necessary to engage a NJ lawyer as well. These cases are very fact-specific, and each state is different. That being said, I've handled cases where my clients were in accidents in other states (IL, NH recently); in both instances the cases were resolved at the claims level so no lawsuit was necessary. Thanks for opportunity to give input.
I often get asked by a Nevada resident--I practice out of Las Vegas, Nevada--if I can represent them in an car collision that happened out of state, and not in California where I am also licensed. My response goes like this:
1) I will have to call bar counsel in your accident state to see if the bar there objects to an out of state lawyer even handling the case before suit is filed. (Here in Nevada the state bar would consider it the unauthorized practice of law for, say, a Colorado lawyer to try and settle even out of court a Nevada accident case for a Colorado resident.)
2) If I am able to represent the client in the state of their accident, I would then say, here are some things to think about:
A) You can hire me to represent you to see if I can get your case settled without filing suit. If I can it will be more convenient for you and my low 25% fee will apply since you weren't at fault for the accident.
B) But, if we can't get a decent settlement then I either have to hand you back your file and you can go look for a lawyer in the accident state, or I can refer you to a lawyer in the accident state, but the lawyer I refer you to will probably want at least a 33.33% fee and maybe a 40% fee because suit is now necessary, and if it is a small case, we may have trouble placing you with a lawyer in the accident state because this case is now not going to be an easy case.
C) If you have a large case, it won't be a problem for me to work with a lawyer in your accident state, but the new lawyer will probably charge 33.33% to 40%.
So think about it and let me know if you want to start with me or with a lawyer in the accident state.
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