Auto Accident FAQs
New Jersey Automobile Accident Questions and Answers
Q: Can I recover for personal injuries and damages I suffered as a driver in an automobile accident?
A: Yes. You can bring a civil lawsuit against any other driver who is at fault for a car accident for non-economic damages (pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life) and economic damages (property damage, lost wages, future lost wages, special damages).
Q: Can I recover for personal injuries and damages I suffered in a car accident if I was a passenger in one of the vehicles?
A. Yes. You can pursue a claim against any of the drivers at fault for an automobile accident, even against the driver of the vehicle in which you were a passenger.
Q: Can I recover for personal injuries and damages suffered in a car accident if I was a pedestrian struck by another motor vehicle?
A. Yes. The same rules apply as if you were an occupant of a vehicle at the time of the accident.
Q: Can I recover for property damage suffered in an automobile accident against another driver?
A: Yes. Under New Jersey law, property damage is almost always paid for by either your or the other party’s insurance company depending on who is at fault. If your insurance company pays for it, you will have to pay the deductible on your policy, however, if the other party’s insurance company pays, they will pay the entire cost of repairs/replacement and reimburse your insurance company for any payments that have already been made on the repairs and you for any amount of deductible that you may have already paid. As to a rental car, whether or not your insurance company pays for it depends on your insurance policy benefits, but if the other party is at fault, you can add the cost of the rental car into your claim for damages against the at fault driver.
Q: Who pays my medical bills if I am in an automobile accident, car accident or truck accident?
A: Your own automobile insurance company will pay your medical bills if you are involved in an accident up to the PIP limits contained on your insurance policy. If your PIP benefits have been exhausted, your health insurance company may pay for your medical bills.
Q: What is “PIP?”
A: PIP stands for “Personal Injury Protection.” This is your medical coverage for injuries you (and others) suffer in an auto accident. PIP pays if you or other persons covered under your policy are injured in an auto accident. It is sometimes called “no-fault” coverage because it pays your own medical expenses no matter who caused the accident. PIP has two parts: (a) coverage for the cost of treatment you receive from hospitals, doctors and other medical providers and any medical equipment that may be needed to treat your injuries; (b) reimbursement for certain other expenses you may have because you are hurt, such as lost wages and the need to hire someone to take care of your home or family.
Q: What is the “verbal threshold” or “limited tort threshold” on my automobile insurance policy?
A: The verbal threshold or limited tort threshold is an option selected by most policyholders in New Jersey to lower the cost of the insurance policy. If selected, the verbal threshold requires the injured party to show objective medical evidence of a permanent injury in order to maintain a personal injury lawsuit in New Jersey without risk of dismissal by the Court.
Q: What are my legal options if the other driver’s insurance policy is not enough to cover my personal injuries and damages?
A: You can pursue a recovery if your policy contains underinsured (UIM) motorist benefits. For example, if you sustain injuries in a New Jersey automobile, bus or truck accident valued at $100,000 and the other driver only has $15,000 in bodily injury coverage, you can pursue a claim against your own insurance company if your policy contains underinsured motorist coverage in excess of $15,000.
Q: What are my legal options from the perspective of a New Jersey car accident lawyer if the other driver has no insurance or I am not sure of the identity of the other driver?
A. If the other driver does not have insurance or you are unable to identify the other driver at fault in the accident because of a “hit and run” or “phantom vehicle”, you can pursue a claim against your own insurance company if your policy contains uninsured motorist benefits (UM).
Q: How long do I have to file a personal injury lawsuit against another driver in New Jersey?
A: The statute of limitations in New Jersey for a personal injury lawsuit is two years from the date of the accident, unless you are a minor under the age of eighteen. In other words, you must file your lawsuit with the courthouse within two years or you will be forever barred. In other states, the statute of limitations may vary so it is important to contact an attorney as soon as you are in an accident in order to preserve your rights.
Q: Do I need to notify my insurance company even if the other driver is at fault?
A: Yes. In order to fully obtain the benefits and rights under your automobile insurance policy, you must put your insurance carrier on notice of the accident, regardless of who is at fault.
Q: What should I do if the other driver’s automobile insurance company contacts me?
A: Do nothing. Direct that individual to speak with your attorney and let your attorney know that you have been contacted and who contacted you. Do not become a victim of an insurance company’s attempt to coerce you into giving a statement that can be used against you.
Q: If I decide to sue, how do I pay for my New Jersey attorney?
A: Almost every attorney in New Jersey will accept the case on a “contingency fee” basis. Under a contingency fee arrangement, an attorney will not be paid unless you recover damages, either by a settlement or jury verdict. If you recover nothing, you are not responsible to pay the attorney. If there is a recovery, the New Jersey attorney will take a specified percentage of the recovery as a fee and will be reimbursed off the top for any expenses advanced for the litigation. The client is responsible for the payment of all outstanding medical bills and liens regardless of whether there is a recovery.
If you or a loved one has been the victim of a serious motor vehicle accident, please contact Mazie Slater Katz & Freeman and we will contact you within twenty-four (24) hours to discuss your car accident case.
These questions and answers should not be relied on, are not intended to constitute legal advice, and are for informational purposes only.