In 2019, there were 276,861 motor vehicle accidents in New Jersey. This works out to just over 31 car crashes every single hour in our state.
If you have been hurt in a car accident, you may be entitled to financial compensation for your injuries. Although New Jersey is a no-fault state, you may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault driver and their insurance company to recover money for your property damage, medical expenses, pain and suffering, and more.
A skilled New Jersey personal injury lawyer can help you navigate the process, starting with a free initial consultation. During this appointment, your attorney will explain your legal rights – and give you a ballpark estimate of how much your case is worth.
What Does It Mean that New Jersey Is a No-Fault State?
Under New Jersey law, all drivers are required to carry at least $15,000 of personal injury protection (PIP) insurance. This insurance will cover medical expenses, lost income, and other direct financial losses in the event of a car accident. For this reason, many NJ drivers choose to carry more than $15,000 in PIP insurance.
Because of these insurance minimums, New Jersey is considered a no-fault state. Under no-fault laws, your own car insurance company pays for property damage, medical treatment, and other financial losses – regardless of who caused the accident.
If you have a “basic” car insurance policy, then you have a limited right to sue after a motor vehicle accident. With this type of policy, you can only pursue legal action if you suffered serious injuries in the crash, such as:
- Loss of a body part;
- Significant scarring;
- Significant disfigurement;
- A displaced fracture;
- Loss of a fetus;
- Permanent injury; or
Unless your case meets this threshold, you are limited to recovering through your PIP coverage. If you are able to file a claim, then you can pursue compensation for all of your direct financial losses as well as non-economic losses like mental anguish.
Alternatively, you can choose a “standard” policy, with either a limited or unlimited right to sue option. While the premiums for an unlimited right to sue policy are higher, it gives you the option to file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver and to seek full compensation for your injuries – including for non-economic losses like pain and suffering.
The type of car insurance policy that you have will influence the average settlement amount. In addition, a number of other factors – such as the severity of your injury and the likelihood of making a full recovery – go into a determination of your case value.
Average Settlement Amounts for New Jersey Car Accidents
Each automobile accident claim is unique. In addition, an accident settlement is usually confidential. For these reasons, there is no definitive answer as to how much a particular claim may be worth.
That being said, an experienced personal injury attorney can help you determine the value of your case based on average car accident settlement numbers and the facts of your case. Remember that the goal of an insurance claim is to make you whole, or to put you in the same position that you would have been in if you hadn’t been hurt. To estimate the potential value of your case, your car accident lawyer will analyze a range of evidence, including:
- Medical bills
- The need for future medical treatment
- Pay stubs
- Repair estimates
- Insurance coverage limits
Using this information, your attorney will evaluate the potential damages in your injury claim. Personal injury claims may include three types of damages: economic, non-economic, and punitive.
Economic damages are meant to cover direct financial losses. They may include things such as lost wages, reduced earning capacity, property damage, and medical expenses. In many cases, these losses are covered by a PIP policy – although this coverage may not always be sufficient.
By contrast, non-economic damages are designed to compensate a person for intangible losses. Examples of non-economic damages include pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, emotional distress or mental anguish, scarring, and disfigurement.
Finally, punitive damages are meant to penalize a wrongdoer. They are rarely available in an NJ personal injury settlement because it requires proof that the at-fault driver acted intentionally or recklessly (such as in a drunk driving case). In New Jersey, punitive damages are capped at the greater of $350,000 or five times compensatory damages (economic + non-economic damages).
Based on these factors, your attorney will advise you of the possible value of your accident lawsuit, which may be more or less than the average settlement amount for this type of claim. As your case progresses, your personal injury lawyer will work to negotiate a favorable settlement for you. If the insurance company refuses to offer fair compensation, they will take the case to trial and seek a jury verdict in your favor.
What If I Am Partially At Fault for the Accident?
In New Jersey, the principle of shared fault applies to personal injury cases. Also known as modified comparative negligence, this means that you can still recover for your losses in a car accident even if you have some responsibility for the crash – as long as your share of the fault is 50% or less. If you are partially at fault, then your total recovery will be reduced by the percentage that you are to blame.
For example, if you suffered $100,000 in medical costs and other damages in a car crash, and a jury finds that you were 20% at fault, then your recovery will be reduced by 20% to $80,000. However, if you were 51% at fault for the accident, then you cannot recover at all. Contact our law office today to schedule a free consultation about your car accident claim.
When Should I Contact an Attorney After an NJ Car Accident?
In New Jersey, the statute of limitations for personal injury claims is 2 years. With a few exceptions, you must file a lawsuit within this 2-year window – or it will be barred entirely. For this reason, it is important to consult with a New Jersey car accident attorney as soon as possible after your accident.
2 years may seem like a lot of time, but when you are dealing with medical treatment, car repairs, and paperwork, it can go by quickly. Reaching out to a lawyer soon after an accident can ensure that you meet all legal deadlines. It may also allow your legal team to gather the evidence before it disappears or witness memories fade.
Is It Worth It to Get a Lawyer for a Car Accident?
In most cases, it makes sense to hire a lawyer for your automobile accident claim. This is particularly true if your crash involved more than just property damage or minor injuries. Your attorney can evaluate the case and help you recover the most money for your losses.
Studies show that people who are represented by an attorney recover an average of 40% more compensation, compared to those who represent themselves. If you have been injured in any type of accident, our law firm can help you get the money that you deserve. Reach out to schedule a free consultation with a New Jersey personal injury lawyer.
Help for NJ Car Accident Victims
Being in a car accident can be incredibly traumatic. In the aftermath, the last thing you may want to do is deal with insurance companies and paperwork. Our law firm is here to help.
Bross and Frankel represents injury victims throughout New Jersey. For each client, we work hard to achieve justice – and get maximum compensation. To learn more or to schedule a free consultation with a New Jersey personal injury attorney, give our law office a call at 856-795-8880 or fill out our online contact form.