How do insurance companies determine fault?
In New Jersey, car accident claims must go through the no-fault insurance system set up by state law. Under the no-fault system, an injured car accident victim must first turn to their car insurance policy to seek personal injury protection coverage for their accident-related medical treatment. However, if an accident victim suffers expenses and losses that exceed their PIP coverage, they may be entitled to pursue a legal claim against an at-fault driver or party. But how do insurance companies determine fault in car crashes in New Jersey?
Keep reading to find out.
Personal Injury Protection in New Jersey
Also known as “no-fault” coverage, PIP coverage is required for all New Jersey drivers. PIP coverage helps pay for medical expenses, lost wages, and other costs incurred due to injuries suffered in a car accident. This coverage is available to a driver and their passengers regardless of who was at fault for the accident, which is why it is called “no-fault” coverage. PIP does not cover other expenses and losses such as:
- Damage to your vehicle
- Damage you caused to another driver’s vehicle
- Damage you caused to someone else’s property
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of quality of life
When is Proving Fault Important?
If your expenses and losses exceed your PIP coverage, you may be entitled to file a claim against the driver at fault for the accident for those excess medical expenses. In addition, you can only sue an at-fault driver for pain and suffering if you elected the unlimited right-to-sue option in your car insurance policy (which results in a higher premium cost to you) or if you have suffered an injury that exceeds the “verbal threshold,” such as:
- Displaced bone fracture
- Permanent injury, impairment, or disability
- Severe scarring or disfigurement
- Loss of a body part or bodily function
- Loss of a fetus
When you have the right to sue for your financial and personal losses from a car accident, it becomes important to determine who was at fault for the accident and the respective shares of fault if multiple parties bear responsibility for the crash.
How to Establish Fault
If you have a legal claim against another driver for the car accident, some of the pieces of evidence you may use to establish fault for the crash include:
- The type of collision, as certain crashes such as rear-end and head-on collisions, have a presumption of fault against one driver
- Accident scene photos and videos, including photos/videos of vehicle damage, skid marks on the road, traffic controls at the scene, and road/traffic/weather conditions
- Logs from the vehicles’ event data recorders or “black boxes,” which record information about the operation of the vehicle such as its speed and driver inputs, as well as information about the crash itself
- Eyewitness testimony
- Surveillance or traffic camera footage
- Police accident reports
- Driver cell phone records
- Vehicle inspections and maintenance records
- Post-crash vehicle inspection/repair reports
- Accident reconstruction reports or animations developed by crash experts
- Medical records from treatment of accident injuries
Insurance companies will review all this evidence to reach their own conclusion regarding which driver or drivers may have been at fault for the car accident.
Contact a Clark Personal Injury Lawyer to Discuss Your Car Accident Case in New Jersey
Did you or a loved one sustain serious injuries due to a car accident in New Jersey? Don’t wait for the negligent party or their insurance company to do the right thing. Right now, you need an aggressive personal injury attorney on your side, fighting to get you the compensation you need, want, and deserve. The skilled attorneys at Team Law represent clients injured because of car accidents in Newark, Jersey City, Paterson, Elizabeth, and throughout New Jersey. Call (732) 540-1394 or fill out our online contact form to schedule a free consultation about your case. We have an office conveniently located at 136 Central Ave., Clark, NJ 07066, as well as offices in West New York, Perth Amboy, Edison, Summit, Newark, New Brunswick, Orange, Plainfield, and Jersey City.
The articles on this blog are for informative purposes only and are no substitute for legal advice or an attorney-client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact our law firm directly.