As one of the most experienced teams of personal injury lawyers in New Jersey, Callagy Law understands the importance of seeking legal counsel before making any decisions. In the hours and days following your accident, common – and understandable – mistakes can impact your ability to pursue full compensation for your injuries. Take the steps necessary to protect your rights.
Some legal concepts to be aware of as you consider filing a personal injury claim:
New Jersey is a no fault state. Every driver is required to carry at least $15,000 in personal injury protection (PIP), as well as a minimum of $5000 in property damage liability. When you are in an accident, you file a claim under your own coverage, regardless of who caused the accident. This is intended to pay for medical expenses, and you can file a claim against the at-fault driver for property damage.
A Basic policy (the bare bones under New Jersey law) contains the “limited right to sue.” That is, you may not file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver unless you suffer:
- Loss of a fetus
- Loss of a limb
- Permanent injury
- Significant disfigurement
- Significant scarring
- Displaced fracture
In these cases, you may sue for compensatory damages, as well as pain and suffering. If you opt for a Standard policy, you can choose the “full right to sue.” This enables you to file a claim for any injury, not just those listed above. It is most often worth it to pay a bit more on your insurance premiums and purchase more coverage. This leaves you with more options to pursue if you are in an accident.
A Look at Comparative Fault
Sometimes, accidents are not entirely caused by one party or the other. New Jersey law allows for “comparative fault.” You may share part of the liability, and this can affect the amount of compensation you receive.
Say, for example, that you are going through an intersection and traveling 10 mph over the speed limit. A car turning left fails to yield to you, and an accident results. The court may determine that you were 20% at fault, while the other driver was 80% at fault. Your damages total about $20,000. Because you are partially at fault, this is reduced by 20% or $4000.
New Jersey has implemented a “modified comparative fault” law. If you are more than 50% at fault, you are not able to collect compensation from other at-fault parties.
Even if your case does not go to trial, the issue of fault will almost inevitably be raised by insurance companies during negotiations as a way to minimize your compensation. Having an aggressive personal injury lawyer on your side is a smart move.
What is the Statute of Limitations?
Like all states, New Jersey imposes a limit on the amount of time you have to file a lawsuit. The statute of limitation varies depending on what type of case you are bringing: for personal injury cases, you have two years from the date of the accident/incident.
If you miss this deadline, it is likely the court will throw your case out and you will lose the right to pursue compensation. Exceptions to this rule are very rare, so please, speak with a New Jersey injury attorney as soon as you can to ensure you have sufficient time to build and file a case.
Will Caps on Damages Affect Your Compensation?
Likely not. New Jersey places a limit on punitive damages in personal injury cases. It must not exceed five times the amount of compensatory damages or $350,000, whichever is greater.
New Jersey very rarely awards punitive damages (i.e. those intended to “punish” the defendant for egregious behavior). Instead, you are highly likely to receive only compensatory damages, intended to cover financial losses that resulted from the accident/incident.
If you have been hurt, start the process of filing a claim today. Callagy Law’s New Jersey injury attorneys are ready to answer all of your questions and guide you through the complex legal terrain. Schedule your free consultation today.