How Do You Settle A Car Accident Claim Without A Lawyer In New Jersey?
An attorney is not required in claiming compensation for auto accident injuries. Some people are able to handle the claims process on their own, but doing so successfully entails much preparation and caution. There are many potential mistakes that would cost a claimant their case, which is why having a lawyer’s protection is important even though it’s not required.
To give you an idea, here’s an overview of the car accident injury settlement process in New Jersey, and problems you may encounter if self-representing.
How To Self-Represent In NJ Car Crash Claim
Step 1. Laying the groundwork
It’s crucial to research the laws and rules that apply to your NJ car accident case. Make sure you understand your rights, New Jersey’s auto injury laws, the applicable statute of limitations, and the provisions of your insurance policy. Also, look into how the insurance company actually deals with injury claims so you know what to expect from them.
Gather evidence as early as you can, including your immediate medical bills, a copy of the police report, photos of the accident scene, and related documentation.
Estimate the value of your damages (losses), which might include tangible costs such as hospital bills and lost wages as well as less tangible ones such as lower future earning capacity, pain, and suffering.
Step 2. Starting your claim
In New Jersey, you must contact your own Personal Injury Protection (PIP) provider first to pay for your initial medical bills. Once you’ve exceeded the PIP coverage threshold, you can then file a claim against the at-fault party’s insurance carrier. You can send them a formal demand letter stating why you hold the other driver liable for your injuries and how much you’ve valued your damages.
Step 3. Insurance negotiations
Once you’ve contacted the other driver’s insurer, expect to receive a low counter-offer from them. This is one of the numerous tactics that insurance companies are known to use during claims negotiations. You don’t have to settle with their early offers. You can go back and forth with the insurance adjuster regarding the valuation of your losses and other damages.
Step 4. Reaching the end of negotiations
If you and the insurance company agree on a settlement amount, follow it up in writing so you have a written record of what was agreed on. You will need to sign a settlement agreement – review this document carefully before signing it.
On the other hand, the negotiations might not reach a settlement at all. The process often fails due to any number of reasons, such as being stalled, having a deadlock, or the use of bad faith tactics.
Common Problems When Claiming Without A Lawyer
Injury claimants usually encounter “delay, deny, defend” tactics of insurance companies. An insurer might prolong the processing of a claim in an attempt to frustrate the claimant into accepting a low settlement offer. They might outright deny the liability of the policyholder, minimize the value of the injury, or defend their party using the many defenses available in a car accident case.
If the claimant has not built a strong case at this point or is unable to match the negotiating power of the insurance adjuster, it can be near impossible to obtain a fair settlement.
Another risk when self-representing is saying or doing something that the other party could use to damage the claim. Sometimes, even utterances like “I’m fine” can be used to devalue your injuries. Apologizing could also be interpreted as an admission of fault. In addition, any kind of delay in your medical treatment could be taken to mean that your case is not as serious as you claim. It is vital that you seek medical attention immediately after the accident, and avoid missing doctor’s appointments.
Pitfalls like these and many others exist throughout the claims process. The fact is that people who don’t hire a lawyer are far more vulnerable to losing their claim or receiving much less than they deserve.
If your injury is minor, you could probably attempt to settle on your own, but if a serious injury is involved and you are racking up substantial expenses, having an attorney in your corner is definitely the most advisable option. A good auto injury lawyer should protect you from costly mistakes, and level the playing field when negotiating with an insurance company.
Car Accident Settlement Video
Car accident settlement
The number one question I get almost every time I first initially meet with a client is, “Is it worth even pursuing this process? What kind of a settlement will I even get? Is it worth balancing out the time and the cost to go through this whole process?” They ask me, “Well, what kind of a settlement can I expect?” Any ethical attorney will explain to you that, that is an impossible question to answer early on in the case.
There is no way that we can tell what kind of an outcome would happen. There are too many variables. Number one, who are the insurance companies involved? Number two, what types of injuries do you have? Number three, what kind of treatment did you sustain? What kind of income did you lose? These are all things that oftentimes develop throughout the time of the case. So, in the beginning, we don’t know and the reality is that a settlement takes quite some time.
We never want to sacrifice your rights for a release of all claims against the other driver and their insurance company. What we are going to do is, we are going to take our time with you, monitor you, help guide you through this process, and then once we really understand the true nature of what you’ve been through or what you may endure the rest of your life, only then can we assess the value of your claim.
Car Accident Permanent Injury Settlement in New Jersey
Populated regions like New Jersey see their fair share of car accidents. If you have been in a car accident, then you may be entitled to receive compensation if the accident happened due to another party’s fault. Here are some things you should know about car accident compensation settlements in New Jersey.
No-Fault Auto Insurance in New Jersey
New Jersey is among states upholding the “no-fault” insurance system. Under this system, you should turn first to your insurance provider to cover your medical expenses even if it is from an accident and due to another party’s negligence. The upside is that you save time processing the payment as the system allows providers to pay for the medical expenses very quickly. There won’t be out-of-pocket expenses or delayed reimbursements on your side. However, the system also limits your right to sue the other party for damages covering pain and suffering unless your injuries are of specific gravity.
In New Jersey, there are two types of insurance policies known as Standard and Basic. The Standard Policy offers multiple coverage options including the chance to purchase added protection. The majority of people in New Jersey have this policy. The Basic Policy, on the other hand, is an option for people with only a few assets to protect or those having minimal family responsibilities.
For a Standard Policy, here are the details:
Bodily Injury Liability
- Minimum coverage is from $15,000 per individual to $30,000 per accident;
- Maximum coverage is $250,000 per individual to $500,000 per accident.
- Minimum coverage is $5,000 per accident;
- Maximum coverage is $100,000 or more.
Personal Injury Protection
- Minimum coverage is $15,000 per individual/accident;
- Maximum coverage is $250,000 or more.
There are two types of limitations to sue under the standard policy:
- Unlimited Right to Sue – you will have the right to sue the other party for any pain and suffering experienced due to the injury.
- Limited Right to Sue – you can only sue the other party for pain and suffering if you sustain permanent injuries.
For the Basic Policy, here are the coverage details:
- Bodily injury is not included but there is an option for $10,000 coverage for all individuals, per accident;
- Property damage – $5,000 per accident;
- Personal Injury Protection – $15,000 per individual, per accident, and up to $250,000 for specific injuries.
As for the limitation on suing, you won’t be able to sue the other party for pain and suffering unless it resulted in permanent injuries. You need to consult with your lawyer on the applicable terms in your case as state laws may also change at any time.
New Jersey Damages Cap and Time Limits
There might be a limit to the number of damages that could be awarded for your case, otherwise known as the damages cap law. In New Jersey, punitive damages come with this damages cap. Additionally, there may be a limit or deadline to your case depending on your situation. For example, you have two years to file a claim for a car accident in New Jersey. After two years, it’s impossible to file a lawsuit against the other party.
In New Jersey, you can file for compensation so long as you are not more than 50% at fault. You won’t be allowed to recover any compensation if you are more than 50% at fault.
Consult a lawyer to evaluate your case correctly. He or she can advise you on the best course of action and what steps to take next. At Grossman, we have the right people to assist you in your personal injury settlement case. Contact us today.
About Grossman Law
For over 20 years, Personal Injury Attorney Scott Grossman has been fighting for the rights of the injured throughout New Jersey. He has helped thousands obtain their fair and just monetary compensation to pay for medical treatment, pain and suffering, and more. Mr. Grossman and his legal team truly care about their clients and provide each with devoted and individual personal attention. Whether you have been the victim of an NJ motor vehicle accident, trucking accident, dog bite, brain injury, construction accident, pharmacy error, wrongful death, workplace injury or any other type of injury, we are here to help you recover the fair and just compensation you truly deserve.