In the aftermath of a car accident, victims often face a myriad of physical injuries, one of the most common being whiplash. Characterized by neck pain resulting from rapid back-and-forth movement of the neck, whiplash can lead to long-term discomfort and significant medical expenses. Many New Jersey residents find themselves wondering about their legal rights concerning this type of injury. Specifically, they ask: Can you sue for whiplash in New Jersey? The answer is nuanced, depending on several legal and medical factors. This article, prepared by The Epstein Law Firm, aims to provide a detailed overview of the legal landscape surrounding whiplash claims in New Jersey.

What is considered Whiplash?

Whiplash is typically associated with rear-end vehicle collisions but can occur in various types of accidents. Symptoms may not appear immediately and can include neck pain and stiffness, headaches, dizziness, and, in severe cases, blurred vision and memory problems. The impact of whiplash can extend beyond physical discomfort, affecting an individual's ability to work and perform daily activities. New Jersey's no-fault insurance system plays a critical role in how whiplash claims are handled. Under this system, individuals injured in car accidents generally turn to their own Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage for medical bills and certain other losses, regardless of who caused the accident. However, this does not mean that a lawsuit for whiplash is off the table.

Threshold for Suing in New Jersey

To sue for pain and suffering in New Jersey, including injuries like whiplash, the injured party must meet a certain threshold. This usually involves proving that the injury is "serious," as defined by state law. New Jersey law specifies that an injury must result in death, dismemberment, significant disfigurement or scarring, displaced fractures, loss of a fetus, or a permanent injury within a reasonable degree of medical probability, other than scarring or disfigurement, to qualify.

Limited vs. Unlimited Right to Sue

When purchasing auto insurance in New Jersey, drivers choose between a "limited right to sue" and an "unlimited right to sue" option. Choosing the limited right to sue means agreeing not to sue for pain and suffering unless the injuries fall into one of the categories defined as serious by the state. Conversely, selecting the unlimited right to sue option allows policyholders to pursue compensation for pain and suffering for any injury, regardless of its severity.

Pursuing a Whiplash Claim

For those who meet the criteria to sue for whiplash in New Jersey, the process involves several critical steps:
  • Medical Documentation: Immediate and comprehensive medical evaluation is crucial. Documenting your injuries and their impact on your life is essential for building a strong case.
  • Understanding Insurance Coverage: Review your insurance policy and the at-fault party's policy to understand the coverage limits and your options for filing a claim.
  • Statute of Limitations: New Jersey imposes a statute of limitations for filing personal injury claims, including those for whiplash. This is typically two years from the date of the accident, but exceptions can apply.
  • Consulting a Personal Injury Attorney: Navigating the complexities of a whiplash claim can be challenging. Consulting with an experienced personal injury attorney can provide invaluable guidance and increase your chances of a favorable outcome.
An experienced attorney can offer several advantages in a whiplash claim. They can:
  • Evaluate Your Case: Assess whether your injury meets the legal threshold for filing a lawsuit and advise on the best course of action.
  • Negotiate with Insurance Companies: Handle communications and negotiations with insurance providers, aiming to secure a fair settlement.
  • Litigate Your Case: If a satisfactory settlement cannot be reached, your attorney can represent you in court, presenting evidence and arguing on your behalf.

Compensation for Whiplash Injuries

Compensation in a whiplash lawsuit can cover various damages, including but not limited to:
  • Medical expenses (past and future)
  • Lost wages and loss of earning capacity
  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional distress
The amount of compensation depends on the severity of the injury, the impact on the victim's life, and the skill with which the case is presented, either in negotiations or in court.

Contact The Epstein Law Firm Today

Suffering from whiplash after a car accident in New Jersey presents a complex situation, given the state's no-fault insurance system and legal requirements for suing for pain and suffering. However, for those who meet the state's threshold for serious injuries, pursuing a lawsuit for whiplash is indeed possible. It requires thorough documentation, a strategic approach to insurance, and, most importantly, the guidance of an experienced personal injury attorney. At The Epstein Law Firm, our team is committed to supporting victims of car accidents through every step of their legal journey. We understand the nuances of New Jersey's laws and are dedicated to advocating for the rights and well-being of our clients. If you've suffered a whiplash injury and are considering your legal options, contact us to learn how we can help you navigate the path to compensation and recovery.  Contact us today at 201-231-7847 or schedule a consultation online to learn more.