For those who suffer injury or loss of a loved one in a motor vehicle accident, New Jersey has a legal framework in place that allows people to pursue full and fair compensation for the harms and losses suffered.
Current N.J. Auto Accident Laws
Under New Jersey law, a driver injured in an accident is typically immediately eligible for medical benefits and first-person coverage through their own auto insurance policy. Personal Injury Protection (PIP), sometimes called “no-fault” insurance, is a package of benefits that provides medical expense benefits, income continuation, essential service benefits and funeral benefits to people who are injured in motor vehicle accidents accidents, and as pedestrians. The extent of available PIP benefits depends on the coverage selected by the policyholder, in addition to New Jersey law. After an accident, you must file a claim for PIP benefits with your auto insurance company in order to avail yourself of these important benefits.
Additionally, you may be able to separately bring suit against the negligent driver who caused your injures. The ability to sustain a lawsuit will depend on a number of factors, including whether the limitation on lawsuit or "verbal threshold" applies to your case. When applicable, this insurance coverage option may require that your injury fall into one of the following categories in order for you to sustain a lawsuit seeking non-economic damages from a negligent driver: 1) Death; 2) Dismemberment; 3) Significant disfigurement or scarring; 4) Loss of a fetus; 5) Displaced fracture; or 6) Permanent injury. If the medical evidence does not support your claim and you do not comply with certain proof requirements, your case may be dismissed where the verbal threshold is applicable.
Statute of Limitations in New Jersey Accident Cases
The statute of limitations dictates how long a car accident victim has to file a legal action against the defendants believed to be at fault. In New Jersey, under N.J.S.A. 2A:14-2 a lawsuit “for an injury” caused by “the wrongful act” of another must be filed within two (2) years of the accident. In some cases, plaintiffs may have longer to file suit, as in the case of plaintiffs who are minors or mentally incompetent at the time of an accident. The deadline imposed by a statute of limitations is firm and cannot be extended, thus it is best to begin preparing your case as early as possible. By working with an experienced motor vehicle accident attorney right away, you will ensure that all relevant evidence is preserved and a case is properly prepared on your behalf.
Comparative Fault Analysis
It is worth noting that juries in car accident cases are typically allowed to assess not only the fault of the defendants, but also the fault of the plaintiff. This concept is sometimes referred to as "comparative negligence." New Jersey, in particular, has adopted what is known as a “modified comparative fault” system. Under this law, in order to recover compensation at trial, a plaintiff must be found to be 50% or less at fault for causing an accident. If a jury finds the plaintiff's percentage of fault to be 51% or more, the plaintiff will rbe precluded from recovering any compensation.