NJ Car Accident Settlement
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NJ Car Accident Settlement
Although New Jersey is a no-fault state, you may still need the help of a car accident lawyer in certain circumstances. No-fault laws are in place to speed up getting compensation for medical expenses and eliminate the burden of establishing fault. However, under special conditions, you are still able to sue another driver who causes you serious harm.
You may also need the help of a car accident lawyer to get the best settlement from your own insurance carrier, especially if you're not familiar with the entire settlement process and the procedures involved. Morgan and Morgan can ensure you get the most money from your car accident claim. Let's take a look at how car accident settlements work.
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Morgan & Morgan
How Can a New Jersey Car Accident Lawyer Help Me?
We understand how stressful a car accident can be, as it takes a toll on you physically and emotionally. While money can't erase the damage, it can help to set you up for the future. The first step is to get an excellent settlement which means the most money possible. Hiring a car accident lawyer can help you achieve this. In fact, people that use lawyers can generally expect to get about 3.5 times more money than negotiating on their own.
Our car accident lawyers are experts in how to file and pursue a claim, but they also know how to successfully navigate insurance company tactics. Furthermore, we know how to put a price on the intangible, like pain and suffering and other losses you've incurred that are hard to quantify. Many people don't consider future expenses for things like ongoing medical care or a disability that will impact how much money they will be able to earn. Our car accident lawyers use their long experience to make sure you're compensated for everything, even the losses you didn't realize to consider.
How Much Money Should I Expect From a Car Accident Settlement?
This is an important question that is asked frequently. Unfortunately, it's not easy to answer until we've thoroughly investigated and analyzed all the facts of your accident because every claim is unique. Here are some factors that may impact your settlement amount:
- The extent of your injuries
- If you have any pre-existing injuries
- Your medical bills
- Anticipated future medical bills
- Property damage
- Your insurance policy limits
- The other party's insurance policy limits
- Your lost income
- Future lost income
- If you shared in fault for the accident
Pre-existing injuries to an area of the body that was injured further in the accident can complicate a claim because the insurance company will argue that their policyholder isn't responsible. The fact that the car accident caused further damage will have to be authenticated by a doctor. Still, the insurance company may have a doctor with a conflicting opinion. Another issue that may arise is medical bills. The insurance company's doctor may claim that treatments weren't needed and, therefore, they shouldn't pay. In this scenario, we may need to get testimony from an expert medical witness who can convince a jury or an insurance adjuster of the validity of the treatment. Fortunately, we have excellent relationships with expert medical witnesses who can support the damage caused by the car accident and verify necessary treatments.
Whether you shared fault for the accident is another complication. Often, your settlement will be reduced by the percentage of the fault. For example, suppose the other driver pulled out in front of you without looking because they didn’t want to be in a slow lane, but you were also speeding. In that case, you may be assigned a fault percentage, which will lessen your settlement.
Insurance companies may use a formula to come up with an amount to pay. Although it's not simplistic as this, here is a theoretical example using the scenario above:
The car that pulled out in front of you causes you to sustain a back injury. The medical bills for treatment come to $50,000, and you lose $40,000 in income because of missing work. Your economic damages are $90,000. Then they use a multiplier depending on the severity of injuries to come up with an amount for pain and suffering. This usually ranges between one through five. They use three because you needed surgery, and your back injury kept you from working and enjoying your life for many months. So your settlement would be $90,000 x 3 = $270,000. To ensure your settlement is negotiated for the maximum amount, hiring an experienced car accident lawyer is crucial.
What Should I Do After a Car Accident in New Jersey?
Car accidents happen in a flash giving us little time to react. However, there are steps you can take afterward that may help to win a personal injury claim, which are as follows:
Call the police - New Jersey law requires you to call the police if anyone involved is injured or killed or if the accident causes more than $500 in property damage to any of the parties. Furthermore, a police report can be valuable evidence for establishing fault. They will assess the accident scene, issue citations for traffic violations, interview witnesses, and compile their findings in the official report.
Collect information and document evidence - Take pictures of any injuries and damage to your vehicle. Get the insurance and contact information of other parties, as well as the contact information of any witnesses. They can be called upon to corroborate your version of the accident if there is a dispute.
Get medical care - Seeking medical treatment after an accident is crucial for your well-being and any potential insurance claim. Don't refuse medical care at the scene because an insurance adjuster may use this to argue that your injuries are not as serious as you make them out to be. When receiving medical care, be explicit about the extent of your injuries and how they occurred, as this will go into your medical records and can be used to strengthen your claim.
Contact Morgan and Morgan - Our car accident lawyers are experts at gathering and presenting evidence that will prove your personal injury claim. We also have the resources that a smaller law firm may not have access to, such as support staff and a powerful network of professionals that we can use to bolster your claim.
What if the Other Driver Doesn't Have Insurance?
Typically, if another driver causes you serious injury, you would file a third-party claim against their insurer. Suppose the other party doesn't have insurance. In that case, you could still file with your own insurance provider if you have underinsured or uninsured motorist coverage. This should pay for the damage to your vehicle and medical expenses up to the policy limit. However, it would be best if you discussed this with your insurance provider as soon as possible because there may be a time limit which could be as little as 30 days.
How Long Will It Take to Settle My Car Accident Claim?
This is another common question that is asked. Still, the answer depends on many factors. For example, if you end up taking the case to trial, it may be as long as two years. However, the timeframe will depend on the specifics of your unique situation. For instance, if your medical treatment has yet to conclude, it's not in your best interests to settle because you have yet to determine the total cost or extent of your injuries. It's best practice to have all the evidence before entering the negotiation phase with an insurance company.
Another issue that affects a car accident settlement timeline is which insurance company it is and how they view the claim. Many insurance companies have built reputations for playing hardball to avoid what they deem to be frivolous claims. Luckily, Morgan and Morgan have also built a reputation. Insurance companies know that we mean business, and if we're representing a client, the claim has merit. Furthermore, they know we’ll fight tooth and nail to make sure our client gets everything they deserve in compensation.
Our car accident lawyers are very knowledgeable about insurance companies and their processes, and which tactics they use.
When Can I Sue for a Car Accident in New Jersey?
When you're injured in a no-fault state like New Jersey, you must first collect compensation from your personal injury protection (PIP) insurance policy. If you're like many people, you may only carry the minimum amount of $15,000, which is rarely enough, especially if you suffered severe injuries.
Unfortunately, suppose you chose a "Basic" car insurance policy. In that case, you're automatically bound by the "limited right to sue" and can only step outside the no-fault system if you've suffered an injury that caused any of the following:
- The loss of a body part
- Significant disfigurement
- A displaced fracture (a bone broke and moved out of alignment, typically requiring surgery to treat)
- Loss of a fetus
- Significant scarring
- Permanent injury (the affected body part will no longer function normally or heal)
If your injuries meet any of these thresholds, you have the right to file either an insurance claim with the other party's insurance provider or file a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault driver. You could recover compensation for pain and suffering and other damages for non-economic losses, which are not available through a PIP claim.
Suppose you carry "Standard" coverage and choose the "Unlimited Right to Sue" option for your insurance policy. In that case, you're not bound by an injury threshold. You can pursue compensation from the at-fault driver regardless of the severity of your injuries.
How Long Do I Have to Sue After a Car Accident in New Jersey?
According to the statute of limitations, you have two years from the accident to file a personal injury claim in New Jersey. You have up to six years from the date of the accident to file a claim for property damage. While this sounds like a lot of time, starting as soon as possible is crucial since the longer you wait, the more challenging a claim or lawsuit will be. Insurance companies expect claims to be filed in a timely manner. Additionally, if you wait, vital evidence can be lost, witnesses can disappear, and even your own recollection of the accident can diminish.
Don't hesitate to contact Morgan and Morgan for a free case evaluation today. The sooner we get started, the sooner you can collect compensation for your car accident.