Personal injury lawsuits are a common occurrence in the aftermath of a car accident. Often, a driver will sue the person who caused the accident for compensation of medical bills, lost wages, and for pain and suffering. Drivers need to know that in New Jersey, it is very difficult to sue for personal injury after a car accident. The challenge is due to the fact that New Jersey is a “no-fault” state, and it has lawsuit limitations based on the driver’s insurance policy. There are some exceptions to the limitations depending on the severity of the accident. It is critical that anyone considering suing for personal injury hire a personal injury attorney, such as Leon Matchin. An attorney can analyze the case and determine whether it is possible to sue. They will help every step of the way.
New Jersey is a No-Fault State
Twelve states are considered no-fault states when it comes to automobile insurance. New Jersey is one of those states. No-fault means that regardless of who caused the accident, the injured driver’s insurance company will pay for the damages. Your policy will pay up to the coverage limits, even if it is evident that another driver caused the accident. The no-fault rule is one of the key reasons that having automobile insurance is so critical. Not only is it illegal to drive without insurance, but if you were to have an accident with no insurance coverage, you would not be able to receive any compensation for injuries or lost wages. The no-fault rule applies to car accident injuries and does not include damages to the vehicles.
New Jersey Has Lawsuit Limitations
In addition to the no-fault rule, New Jersey also has strict lawsuit limitations, meaning it is difficult to sue for personal injury after an automobile accident. The right to sue all depends on the severity of the injuries caused by the accident. The Automobile Insurance Cost Reduction Act (AICRA) has identified six categories where personal injury lawsuits are permitted:
- Significant disfigurement or significant scarring
- Displaced fractures
- Loss of a fetus
- A permanent injury within a reasonable degree of medical probability, other than scarring or disfigurement
These categories all have one thing in common: they are permanent. There is no cure or treatment that can heal a person who experiences one of these injuries. To be successful in court, the plaintiff must have a doctor certify that the injuries are permanent and qualify under one of the above categories.
As mentioned above, New Jersey drivers have a limited right to sue under their automobile policies unless their injuries fall into the six permanent categories. There is another way around this limitation: through the type of insurance you choose to purchase.
Basic Policy: A basic automobile policy will be the cheapest option, but it does limit your rights to sue. Your policy will cover $15,000 per person, per accident (sometimes up to $250,000 for certain injuries, such as a spinal cord injury) if another driver was at fault. With this policy, you cannot sue unless injuries fall into one of the six categories. The basic policy also does not cover your injuries if the accident was your fault. While it’s not automatically included, drivers can elect to add $10,000 worth of coverage to their plan to cover all persons per accident (even if the accident was your fault).
Standard Policy: The second insurance option is the standard policy, which is more expensive than the basic policy. The standard policy is perfect for drivers who want more protection options and who have more assets. Unlike the basic policy, this one automatically covers bodily injuries whether the accident was your fault or not. Drivers are covered between $15,000 and $250,000 per person or between $30,000 and $500,000 per accident for their injuries and the injuries of their passengers. If the accident was someone else’s fault, personal injury protection provides $15,000 per person or accident and up to $250,000 for certain injuries.
The Right to Sue for Personal Injury
A standard policy also comes with a choice regarding personal injury lawsuits. You can choose “limited right to sue” or “unlimited right to sue.” If you go with the “limited right to sue” option, you can only sue in the case of death or permanent injury (ex: dismemberment, displaced fracture, etc.). If you choose the “unlimited right to sue” option, you will pay more for your coverage. However, you will have the right to sue the driver who caused the accident for pain and suffering.
97% of All Cases Settle Before Trial
97% of personal injury lawsuits end up settling before the case even goes to trial. The key to this happening is working with an experienced attorney like Leon Matchin. He is highly knowledgeable about New Jersey’s rules and regulations regarding personal injury compensation.
Working with a Personal Injury Attorney
Getting into a car accident is scary. Unfortunately, the pain and suffering don’t just occur on the day of the accident; for many, it can be long-lasting and even permanent. Personal injury lawsuits can be a complex process in New Jersey due to the “no-fault” and “limited lawsuit” rules. A personal injury attorney can help you determine whether you have the right to sue for your injuries. If you or a loved one has sustained injuries from a car accident and are looking to receive compensation for damages, it’s essential to contact an attorney right away. For more information about New Jersey attorney Leon Matchin and personal injury lawsuits, contact Leon right away by phone at 732-887-2479, or email him at [email protected].