After a car accident that wasn’t your fault, it seems only fair that the other driver should have to pay for the dent in your bumper, your expensive medical expenses, and other accident-related expenses. However, in the state of New Jersey, this isn’t always the case. In fact, since New Jersey is what is known as a no-fault state, unless the injuries sustained in an accident are life-altering, your own insurance company will be called upon to pay the damages, even if you were not at fault. Of course, there are some scenarios where accident victims can and should file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver. I’ll explain this further below, as well as when a Northern New Jersey car accident attorney at Buttafuoco & Associates may be able to help.
New Jersey At-Fault Laws: Can I Still Sue?
In many states, the at-fault driver’s car insurance policy pays for accident damages, but in the state of New Jersey, you’re likely familiar with New Jersey no-fault laws. Under these laws, your own car insurance policy must pay for accident damages regardless of who caused the accident.
If an accident is not considered “serious” under New Jersey law, then you cannot legally sue the other driver, even if they were at fault. However, if an accident victim sustains injuries that can be defined as serious in the eyes of the state, a lawsuit is possible.
To qualify as serious, the victim’s injuries must involve:
- The loss of a fetus
- The loss of a body part
- A permanent injury which cannot be restored to function after an accident
- Major disfigurement or scarring
- Major fractures resulting in displacement
Understanding whether injuries qualify as serious under the law can be tricky, so working with a Northern New Jersey accident attorney can be incredibly helpful if not essential. At Buttafuoco & Associates, we have worked to protect victims’ rights and recover the damages they need to fully heal after a major accident. Our wrongful death attorneys also help families recover damages if a loved one is killed in an accident.
Are there Limits on How Much I Can Sue For?
Another important New Jersey law to know about is comparative negligence. Under comparative negligence law, each party is held responsible for the proportion of fault that is theirs. Depending on how fault is established and divided, the amount you are able to sue for after a serious injury will vary. The police report, witness statements, camera footage, and other evidence will be taken into account to establish comparative fault. If, even as the victim, you are found to be more than 51% at fault for the accident, you will not be able to sue.
In terms of what you can hope to recover in the case of a serious injury, you can sue for damage to your property, medical bills, wages you lost due to injuries, and pain and suffering (physical and/or psychological). Again, this can be challenging to work out without legal expertise, so connecting with a car accident attorney in Northern New Jersey for a consultation can help you better understand whether you have a case and how to value it. Buttafuoco & Associates can tell you more about your case, your rights, and how to move forward after a serious accident.
Do I Need a Car Accident Lawyer?
Whether or not you need a car accident lawyer depends on the specifics of your case. Most personal injury firms will offer a free consultation, as we do at Buttafuoco & Associates. During the case review, you’ll discuss the details of your case with the attorneys and they will explain your rights, as well as how to proceed with a lawsuit if they believe you have one.
To discover whether or not you have a case against the at-fault driver, get in touch with our car accident attorneys serving Northern New Jersey today.