According to the New Jersey Department of Transportation, there were 276,861 statewide vehicular accidents in 2019. Some 59,850 injuries and 524 fatalities resulted from those crashes.
Although New Jersey is a no-fault insurance state, there are circumstances in which you can seek damages beyond mere insurance claims for medical expenses.
If you or a loved one has been involved in a car accident in the Newark area, or throughout the counties of Bergen, Sussex, Passaic, Essex, Union, and Middlesex in Northern New Jersey, call me at Maran & Maran, PC. I am ready to hear your story and help you start the process of pursuing fair compensation for your injuries.
New Jersey requires all vehicle operators to obtain at least a basic policy*, which is an insurance plan that includes personal injury protection (PIP) coverage. The PIP will pay for your medical and out-of-pocket expenses if you're injured in an accident, up to the dollar limit of your coverage. Your PIP provision must be used to pay for medical claims regardless of who is at fault for the accident. In addition some Medicaid Recipients
A basic policy precludes you from filing a lawsuit against the at-fault driver for further damages, including for pain and suffering, unless certain conditions apply. This is known as the "limited right to sue" provision of a basic policy. You may sue only if there is:
- Loss of a body part
- Significant disfigurement
- Significant scarring
- A displaced fracture
- Loss of a fetus
- Permanent injury
A basic policy includes, at minimum, coverage for $5,000 in property damage and $15,000 in personal injury protection (which actually allows up to $250,000 for certain serious injuries). A basic policy will not cover passengers or other drivers injured in the accident unless you also purchase bodily injury liability coverage. Without this additional rider, you'll be responsible for such medical claims out of your own pocket.
You can also upgrade to a standard policy that already includes bodily injury liability. The limits range from $15,000 per person/$30,000 per accident up to $250,000 per person/$500,000 per accident. With a standard policy, you also get to choose either a "limited right to sue" or "unlimited right to sue" option. The limited right is subject to the conditions listed under the basic policy discussion. The unlimited option encompasses the full spectrum of compensation, including economic and non-economic losses stemming from an accident.
- Also available for Medicaid Recipients is an insurance policy known as a Dollar-A-Day policy. The formal name for the Dollar-A-Day Policy is the Special Automobile Insurance Policy (SAIP) which provides limited auto insurance coverage available to drivers who are eligible for Federal Medicaid with hospitalization. Such drivers can obtain a medical coverage-only policy at a cost of $365 a year.
- One of the principal reasons to buy larger coverages is so that you can purchase more Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage which protects you and the family you reside with. This coverage is the most important that you can buy because it protects you and yours!
When you're involved in an accident with another vehicle, New Jersey law requires you to move your vehicle, if possible, out of the way of oncoming traffic, and it also requires that accidents involving $500 or more in damages be reported to the police immediately.
If you or any passengers are seriously injured, call for medical help immediately. If the injuries can wait, seek medical evaluation and treatment as soon as you're done at the scene. Not all injuries show up immediately, and some injuries can worsen over time, so it's essential to begin the medical evaluation process right after the accident.
On your own, you need to document everything at the scene as much as possible. Take photos of everything with your cell phone, including any traffic stops or signs that are relevant to the incident. If there are witnesses, get their contact information. Obtain the other driver's contact and insurance information. Record your recollection of what transpired into your cell phone, or as soon as you get home, write down everything you experienced.
Report the accident to your insurance company, even if you feel a personal injury lawsuit may be in order. Contact an experienced car accident/personal injury attorney.
New Jersey imposes a two-year statute of limitations from the date of the accident on filing a personal injury lawsuit, but insurance companies aren't going to wait that long for you to file a claim. Keep them in the initial loop even if you're turning negotiations over to an attorney. Children generally have a longer statute of limitations.
New Jersey also adheres to a "modified comparative negligence rule" in assigning responsibility for injuries and damages. This is also known as the "Modified 51% Bar Rule." Basically, when you take your claim to court, the jury will be asked to assess the fault level of both parties in the accident. If they decide that you were 20% at fault and the other driver was 80% responsible, your compensation will be reduced by 20%. If you're deemed to be 51% or more at fault, your claim will be denied, and you will receive nothing. See also N.J.S.A. 2A:15-5.1.
If a family member dies in an automobile accident, a wrongful death lawsuit can be filed within two years of the date of their death, which may be later than the date of the accident. New Jersey law states that a wrongful death lawsuit can be filed when the deceased, had she or he survived, would have been eligible to file a personal injury claim.
The law also states that the decedent's personal representative should file the lawsuit. A personal representative is the person named in a will as the executor of the decedent's estate. Generally, a close family member can ask the court to be named the personal representative if there is no will. The lawsuit can seek compensation for loss of financial support, loss of companionship, loss of the value of household services such as cleaning and child care, as well as reasonable medical, funeral, and burial expenses.
Compensation will be awarded to the surviving spouse and children. If there is no spouse or children, the parents can receive the damages, followed by siblings, nieces, and nephews.
You don't want to go it alone in pursuing personal injury or wrongful death claims arising from a car accident. The insurance adjusters will do everything in their power to get you to settle early and to settle for less than you deserve. Remember, injuries rarely heal overnight, and some can reappear or worsen over time. You need compensation that can cover all eventualities.
That's why you should seek the services of a knowledgeable car accident attorney. At Maran & Maran PC, I have over three decades of experience in helping clients recovering from car accidents, or those grieving over the loss of a loved one.
Contact me today at Maran & Maran PC to schedule a free consultation. I am proud to serve clients throughout Northern New Jersey, including the greater Newark area, as well as the counties of Morris, Hudson, Monmouth, Somerset, Bergen, Union, Middlesex, Mercer, Essex, Passaic, and Warren. Reach out today to discuss your case with a skilled personal injury and car accident attorney.