How to handle the aftermath of a car accident in new jersey
Car accidents are an all-too-frequent occurrence in New Jersey. If you’ve never been through a car crash before (or even if you have), you should familiarize yourself with how car accidents occur, what to do following your accident, and the law governing car accident claims in New Jersey.
Most Frequent Causes of Car Accidents
The most common contributing factor to car accidents is motorist negligence. Drivers can be negligent behind the wheel in any number of ways, including:
- Distracted driving, especially texting and driving
- Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs
- Driving while drowsy or fatigued
- Reckless or careless driving, including failing to check mirrors and blind spots, failing to signal lane changes and turns, following too closely, and weaving in and out of traffic
Protecting Your Rights after a Crash
A car collision can be a jarring experience for any person. After a crash, it can be difficult to think about what you need to start doing to protect your rights and interests, especially if you need to make a claim for compensation for injuries or property damage. Steps you should take following your car accident include:
- Calling 911 or the police department
- Taking down the contact and insurance information for all the other drivers involved in the accident
- Taking photos or video of the accident scene
- Getting statements or contact info for any eyewitnesses
- Scheduling a physical exam at the hospital or with your doctor to diagnose any injuries you’ve suffered
- Speaking to a personal injury attorney about your legal rights and options
In New Jersey, drivers are required to have personal injury protection coverage under their auto insurance. PIP coverage provides compensation for your medical bills and lost wages stemming from your accident. PIP is a type of no-fault coverage, meaning you can get money regardless of who was at fault for your accident; usually, PIP coverage is the first financial compensation you will receive following your accident. However, PIP often does not cover the full extent of your losses, especially if you’ve suffered serious injuries.
Unless you declined the “limited tort” option in your PIP coverage, you may only sue an at-fault driver for your medical bills and lost wages. You can only seek non-economic damages like pain and suffering if you have suffered a severe or permanent injury. If you declined the limited tort option, you can file suit for all your economic and non-economic damages under any circumstances.
New Jersey’s Comparative Fault Rules
Under New Jersey law, you may still seek compensation for your injuries and damages even if you were partially at fault for the accident, but so long as you were not more at fault for the accident than the other driver. Your compensation will be reduced by your share of fault; for example, if you were 20 percent at fault for the accident and are awarded $100,000 in damages, your compensation will be reduced by $20,000.
Uninsured and Underinsured Drivers
Generally, an at-fault driver’s insurance company will pay compensation to those who are injured in the accident. However, if the at-fault driver lacks insurance, or if his or her insurance coverage isn’t enough to pay all the claims arising from the accident, those who are damaged by the crash may turn to the uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage in their policies. Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage allows you to make a claim against your own insurance policy if the at-fault driver doesn’t have insurance or doesn’t have sufficient coverage to fully compensate you.
Being Injured as a Passenger
If you are injured in a car crash while riding as a passenger in the vehicle of the at-fault driver, you will generally file a claim with your driver’s insurance company; if your driver doesn’t have sufficient insurance to cover your losses, you may be entitled to file an uninsured/underinsured motorist claim against your own auto insurance policy, if you have one.
If you are injured as a passenger in a rideshare vehicle, such as an Uber or Lyft, state law requires the rideshare company to offer you insurance coverage of up to $1.5 million.
The Process of Pursuing a Car Accident Claim in New Jersey
A car accident claim can take anywhere from a few months to a few years, depending on multiple factors such as how clear-cut fault for the accident is, how many vehicles were involved, and the severity of your injuries. A simple case with minimal damages can be resolved in a couple of months. A more complex case may take longer to resolve and may need to go to court for the parties to get resolution — in New Jersey, you generally must file a lawsuit within two years of the date of your accident.
Although you may be concerned about the need to attend a trial, the reality is that most cases, even the ones that end up getting filed in court, are ultimately resolved through a negotiated settlement.
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 let the medical bills pile up while you 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.