New Jersey Car Accident Laws

by ECL Writer
New Jersey Car Accident Laws

Navigating the aftermath of a car accident can be a daunting task, especially when it comes to understanding the legal intricacies involved. In the state of New Jersey, car accident laws play a crucial role in determining liability, compensation, and the rights of those involved. Whether you’re a driver, passenger, or pedestrian, knowing your rights and responsibilities under New Jersey’s car accident laws is essential for safeguarding your interests.

From determining fault based on negligence laws to understanding the state’s unique approach to personal injury protection (PIP) insurance, aims to provide a comprehensive overview of New Jersey’s car accident laws. By shedding light on the statutes, regulations, and legal precedents that govern car accidents in Garden State, individuals can better navigate the complexities of the legal system and ensure they receive fair treatment and compensation in the event of an accident.

What are the rules for accidents in New Jersey?

In New Jersey, being a no-fault state means that regardless of who caused the accident, each party involved typically turns to their own insurance company to cover their medical expenses and damages to their vehicle. Here’s a breakdown of the key rules and procedures for accidents in New Jersey:

  • No-Fault Insurance: When you’re involved in an accident, you first file a claim with your insurance provider, regardless of who was at fault. Your Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage will usually cover medical expenses and lost wages up to your policy limits.
  • Basic Policy vs. Standard Policy: New Jersey offers two types of auto insurance policies: Basic and Standard. The Basic Policy has lower coverage limits and is generally more affordable, while the Standard Policy provides broader coverage options.
  • Verbal Threshold vs. No Threshold: New Jersey also operates under a system of thresholds concerning lawsuits for pain and suffering. In a Verbal Threshold policy, you cannot sue for pain and suffering unless your injuries meet certain criteria outlined in your insurance policy. However, in a no-threshold policy, you maintain the right to sue for pain and suffering regardless of the severity of your injuries.
  • Comparative Negligence: New Jersey follows the rule of comparative negligence, meaning that fault can be assigned to more than one party involved in an accident. If you’re found partially at fault for the accident, the compensation you receive may be reduced based on your percentage of fault.
  • Statute of Limitations: There is a limited timeframe within which you must file a lawsuit after an accident. In New Jersey, the statute of limitations for personal injury lawsuits resulting from car accidents is generally two years from the date of the accident.
  • Reporting Requirements: New Jersey law requires you to report any accident that results in injury, death, or property damage exceeding $500 to the local police or law enforcement agency.
  • Insurance Requirements: All drivers in New Jersey must carry a minimum amount of liability insurance coverage, including Bodily Injury Liability and Property Damage Liability, to legally operate a vehicle.

It’s crucial to understand these rules and regulations to ensure you’re adequately protected in the event of an accident in New Jersey. Additionally, consulting with a qualified attorney or insurance agent can provide further guidance tailored to your specific situation.

New Jersey Is a No-Fault Car Insurance State

Your choices for filing a claim for injuries sustained in an automobile accident in New Jersey are based on the type of coverage you have decided to buy. Regardless of who caused the crash, you might need to first make an injury claim under your personal injury protection plan to receive reimbursement for medical costs and other financial losses resulting from your injuries sustained in an automobile accident. Learn about the specifics of New Jersey’s no-fault auto insurance regulations.

What Compensation Can I Get After a New Jersey Car Accident?

In New Jersey, your options for injury compensation following a car accident depend on several factors:

  • PIP Car Insurance Claim: If you’re making a Personal Injury Protection (PIP) claim with your car insurer, your coverage will typically include medical treatment costs necessary for treating your injuries, reimbursement for lost income, payment for replacement services, and death/funeral benefits under certain circumstances.
  • Right to Sue Option: New Jersey allows vehicle owners to choose between “Unlimited Right to Sue” and “Limited Right to Sue” options. If you’ve selected the “Unlimited Right to Sue,” or if your injuries meet the threshold for stepping outside of no-fault, you can bring a claim directly against the at-fault driver.
  • Damages Available in Lawsuit: By exercising your “Unlimited Right to Sue” or if your injuries qualify for stepping outside of no-fault, you can pursue additional compensation beyond what PIP covers. This includes payment of accident-related medical bills, compensation for pain and suffering (which isn’t available in a no-fault/PIP claim), and economic losses related to the accident, such as lost income.

It’s important to note that while PIP coverage handles injuries and related expenses, it doesn’t cover vehicle damage. You can typically claim vehicle damage directly against the at-fault driver’s property damage liability coverage, which is part of their insurance policy.

The New Jersey Car Accident Statute of Limitations

A provision that establishes a time limit on your ability to file a lawsuit is known as a “statute of limitations”. Unless there is a very rare circumstance that justifies an extension of the deadline, the New Jersey court system will almost certainly dismiss your automobile accident claim if you attempt to file it after the deadline has already gone.

Generally, you have two years from the date of the collision to file an injury claim in a New Jersey court for an automobile accident. Find out more about New Jersey’s statute of limitations for auto accidents for more information.

Comparative Negligence in New Jersey Car Accident Cases

In New Jersey, if you’re partly at fault for a car accident, the state follows a “modified comparative fault” rule. This means that the total damages you’re entitled to receive will be reduced by the percentage of fault assigned to you. For example, if your damages are determined to be $100,000 but you’re found to be 40% responsible, you would receive 60% of the total damages, which would be $60,000.

However, it’s crucial to note that in New Jersey, you won’t receive any compensation if you’re found to be more than 50% at fault for the accident. This is different from “pure” comparative fault states where you can still recover damages even if you’re more at fault than the other party.

These rules not only apply in court but also guide insurance claims adjusters when assessing your case. It’s still essential to pursue a settlement or lawsuit if you believe you’re entitled to compensation. Consulting with an attorney can help you understand your options and the best course of action given your situation.

Reporting a Car Accident in New Jersey

Under New Jersey law, you must report a car accident if it involves any of the following:

  • The death of a person.
  • An injury to any person, including the driver.
  • Property damage exceeding $500.

Immediately Report the Accident to the Police

In the event of an accident, New Jersey law mandates that drivers promptly report the incident to the appropriate authorities using the quickest means of communication available. This typically means making a phone call from the scene of the accident. Drivers have the responsibility to report the accident to one of the following authorities:

  • The local police department.
  • The nearest office of the county police.
  • The New Jersey State Police.

By promptly reporting the accident, drivers fulfill their legal obligation and enable the authorities to respond swiftly and appropriately to the situation.

Make a Written Report to the Motor Vehicle Commission

Within ten days of the collision, drivers must also submit a written report to the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission using a form that the commission provides. In addition to describing the collision and naming the persons and cars involved, the report should contain information on injuries and property damage sustained in the collision.

Drivers are not obliged to file their report if a law enforcement official attends the site and drafts a police report about the auto collision. Officers have five days from the time they begin their accident investigation to turn in their written reports to the Motor Vehicle Commission.

What Should You Do If You’re Seriously Hurt?

It might not be possible for a driver who has suffered serious injuries to report an accident right away or to turn in a written report within ten days of the incident. When the driver is physically unable to make the required reports, a passenger or the owner of the vehicle involved in the accident may do so on their behalf, according to New Jersey law.

Practically speaking, someone will dial 911 in the event of a catastrophic injury vehicle collision. A 911 call usually results in the dispatch of emergency medical services, firefighters, and police officers to the scene of an accident. After investigating the collision, an officer will write a report and submit it to the Motor Vehicle Commission.

To ensure that the accident has been appropriately reported, drivers who were critically hurt in an accident but chose not to report it should either speak with a lawyer or get in touch with the responding law enforcement agency.

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