You can sue for a car accident in New Jersey if you meet certain conditions. Let’s set the scene to explain this.
As a driver or commuter in NJ, you’re probably familiar with Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance, which covers your medical bills in a car accident regardless of who caused it. This is called the “no-fault” insurance system, because it doesn’t matter who is at fault in the crash. But PIP has its limitations – for one, it cannot compensate you for non-economic damages such as pain and suffering.
Filing a lawsuit against an at-fault driver to get fully compensated is still possible but you have to meet certain conditions before you can sue. These are two important ones: 1) your insurance policy must allow you to file a car accident lawsuit, and 2) you must take action within the Statute of Limitations.
Auto insurance policies in NJ are either full tort or limited tort (also called “No Threshold” versus “Limitation on Lawsuit Threshold”). This refers to whether the policy allows you to sue in an accident case. Limited tort policies are cheaper. Full tort coverage or No Threshold, allows you to pursue a lawsuit regardless of what kind of injuries you sustained.
On the other hand, limited tort coverage restricts your right to sue. It has a “threshold” or standard that you must meet before you can file a lawsuit, and this threshold is that your injury must be legally considered “serious.” In New Jersey, only the following injuries are considered serious enough to satisfy this condition:
- Displaced fracture
- Loss of a limb
- Serious scarring or disfigurement
- Loss of a fetus
- Permanent injury (For this, you will need to obtain a Certification of Permanent Injury from a doctor.)
In other words, if you have limited tort insurance coverage and you do not have any of those injuries listed above, you would not be able to sue. Check your auto insurance policy. Ideally, you are covered by full tort insurance, but unfortunately, most NJ motorists rely only on basic policies that are almost always limited tort. If this is the case for you, consult a lawyer to see your legal options in maximizing your compensation.
The other important factor is the statute of limitations. This legal rule sets a definite time period within which you may file a lawsuit. In NJ, the statute of limitations for a personal injury lawsuit is only two years starting from your injury date or the time you became aware of the injury. If you miss this deadline, you will likely lose your right to sue in court.
Many accident victims miss the lawsuit deadline by waiting too long to file. Often, insurance companies use tactics to delay the claims process, and when the claimant finally decides to bring a lawsuit, it may already be too late.
Pursuing a court case after your accident may be important to get fully compensated. PIP insurance does not cover non-monetary losses that you may be suffering such as pain, mental anguish, loss of enjoyment of life, and loss of marital companionship. There may even be physical injuries that are too substantial to be fully covered by PIP insurance.
To understand the lawsuit options that may apply to your specific case, talk to us at The Grossman Law Firm by calling (732) 625-9494 for a free case evaluation. We are experienced injury attorneys who have helped obtain full compensation for NJ car accident victims.