New Jersey Car Accidents Lawyers
Auto accidents can leave victims with injuries, vehicle damage, no job, and sometimes even a diminished capacity to earn a living. When victims are not to blame for the accident, or only partially to blame, then they have a right to be reimbursed for these losses. In most cases, victims can be reimbursed through their own auto insurance carriers, but in others, they may need to file a claim against the other party.
New Jersey a No-Fault State
New Jersey follows a no-fault insurance system, which means that accident victims must usually file a claim with their own car insurance carrier before considering a third-party claim. The first-party insurance claim will often cover medical expenses and other financial losses.
Victims’ right to sue the other party can be limited based on the type of insurance policy they have. The “Basic” policy provides only a limited right to sue, whereas the “Standard” policy gives a choice between a limited and unlimited right. When the right is limited, victims can sue only in cases involving severe, permanent injury or death.
Comparative Negligence in New Jersey
Assuming then that victims are able to file a claim under car accident law, the next step is to know their degree of fault. Most crashes are caused by negligence: that is, some failure in carrying out one’s duty of care to others on the road.
Examples of negligence include:
- Driving distracted (calling, texting, eating, adjusting the radio, etc.)
- Driving while fatigued
- Operating a vehicle that is poorly maintained
- Speeding or acting in some other reckless manner
- Driving under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or prescription medications
New Jersey adheres to a modified comparative negligence rule, which states that plaintiffs who are less than 50 percent at fault can recover damages from the defendant. If that percentage is more than 50, they cannot. When eligible, plaintiffs will nonetheless have the amount they receive lowered based on their degree of fault. For example, in a case worth $100,000, a plaintiff who was 30 percent at fault will receive $70,000.
The statute of limitations in this state is two years. This means that accident victims must file their claim within two years of incurring injuries.
Hiring a Car Accident Lawyer
If you believe you have good grounds for a lawsuit against the other driver in an accident, then you may want use to evaluate the case. Our car accident lawyers can see if you qualify under New Jersey’s negligence rule. If retained, we can handle every step of the filing process for you. First, we will gather proof of the defendant’s negligence.
This may involve:
- Obtaining a copy of the crash report
- Interviewing witnesses
- Gathering physical evidence from the crash scene
- Investigating the defendant’s phone records and driving records
At the same time, our attorney can, with the help of third parties, determine how much you might be eligible for in damages. In rare cases where defendants acted maliciously, victims may sue for punitive damages, which goes above and beyond compensatory damages and is meant to punish the defendant. New Jersey places a cap on punitive damages: $350,000 or five times the amount of compensatory damages, whichever is greater.
The defendant’s auto insurance company may be willing to settle out of court, so allow us to negotiate on your behalf. We can prepare for litigation as a last resort.
Our car accident lawyers are ready to safeguard your rights and best interests from start to finish, so contact us today!