If you've been involved in a car accident in New Jersey, you may find yourself facing numerous challenges, including medical expenses, property damages, and long-term emotional distress. In such cases, filing a car accident lawsuit can help you seek compensation for your losses and hold responsible parties accountable. However, navigating the legal process can be overwhelming without proper guidance. This article provides an informative guide on what to expect when you file a car accident lawsuit in New Jersey.

I. Meeting the "Verbal Threshold" for Filing a Lawsuit:

Before delving into the lawsuit process, it's essential to familiarize yourself with New Jersey's car accident laws. New Jersey follows a "no-fault" insurance system, which means that each driver's insurance company covers their medical expenses and lost wages regardless of fault. However, in certain situations, you may step outside the no-fault system and pursue a car accident lawsuit if you meet specific criteria, such as suffering catastrophic injuries or exceeding the limitations of your insurance coverage.

To step outside the no-fault system and file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver, New Jersey employs the "verbal threshold" or "limitation on lawsuit" option. To do so, your injuries must meet one of the following criteria:

  • Wrongful Death
  • Dismemberment
  • Significant Disfigurement or Scarring
  • Displaced Fractures
  • Loss of a Fetus
  • Permanent Injury (injuries that will not heal to function normally)

II. Determining Liability:

To establish a successful car accident lawsuit, you must determine liability, i.e., who is at fault for the accident. New Jersey adheres to comparative negligence rules, which means that the compensation you receive can be reduced based on your percentage of fault. Consulting an experienced car accident attorney can help you navigate the complexities of determining liability and building a strong case.

III. Car Accident Lawsuit Compensation:

During the trial, both sides will present evidence, call witnesses, and make arguments before a judge or jury. The judge's or jury's decision regarding fault and the sum of the award will be final.

1. Medical Expenses: This covers past and future medical bills related to your injuries resulting from the accident

2. Property Damage: You can claim the cost of repairing or replacing your vehicle and any other damaged property

3. Lost Wages: If your injuries led to missed workdays, you can seek compensation for the wages you lost

4. Pain and Suffering: Non-economic damages for physical pain, emotional distress, and reduced quality of life

5. Punitive Damages: In rare cases where the defendant's actions were especially reckless or malicious, the court may award punitive damages to punish the at-fault party further

IV. The Role of Insurance Companies:

Expect the involvement of insurance companies throughout the car accident lawsuit process. It's crucial to understand that insurance companies often aim to settle claims for the lowest amount possible. Be cautious when dealing with insurance adjusters and consider seeking legal representation to ensure your rights are protected and you receive fair compensation.

V. Negotiation and Settlement:

Before proceeding to trial, most car accident cases are resolved through settlement negotiations. Your attorney will work with you to calculate the full extent of your damages, including medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and property damage. They will then engage in negotiations with the at-fault party's insurance company to reach a fair settlement. If both parties agree on compensation, the case will be resolved without going to trial.

VI. Filing a Lawsuit:

If a fair settlement cannot be reached through negotiation, your attorney will file a lawsuit on your behalf in the appropriate New Jersey court. This initiates the formal legal process, during which both parties will exchange information and evidence related to the case. The defendant will be served with the complaint, and they will have a specified time to respond. This stage is known as "discovery."

VII. Discovery Phase and Interrogatory:

During the discovery phase, both parties exchange information and evidence related to the case. As part of this process, you will likely go through interrogatories - written questions presented by the opposing party that you must answer truthfully and under oath. An experienced attorney will guide you through this process, ensuring that your responses are accurate and well-considered.

What You Can Expect to Be Asked During the Interrogatory Phase:

1. Please state your full name, address, and occupation.

2. Describe in detail the events leading up to the car accident, including the date, time, and location.

3. Were you wearing a seatbelt at the time of the accident? If not, please explain why.

4. Do you admit liability or fault for the car accident? If not, please state your version of the events and the basis for your denial of liability.

5. Were you using any electronic devices (e.g., mobile phone) while driving at the time of the accident? If yes, please provide details.

6. Have you ever been involved in any other car accidents? If so, please provide the details of each accident.

7. Did you seek medical attention immediately after the accident? If yes, please provide the names and addresses of all healthcare providers you visited.

8. Have you fully recovered from the injuries sustained in the accident? If not, please describe the ongoing medical treatments and any permanent disabilities or limitations.

9. Were there any witnesses to the accident? If yes, please provide their names, addresses, and a summary of their observations.

10. Have you ever been convicted of any traffic-related offenses or crimes?

VIII. Pre-Trial Motions:

Before the trial, either party may file pre-trial motions, seeking to resolve specific legal issues or exclude evidence from the trial. These motions can significantly impact the case's outcome.

IX. Statute of Limitations:

It is essential to be aware of New Jersey's statute of limitations for car accident lawsuits. Generally, you have two years from the date of the accident to file a lawsuit. Failing to meet this deadline may result in the court dismissing your case.

Key Takeaway:

By understanding the New Jersey car accident lawsuit process and seeking experienced legal representation, you can navigate the complexities and work towards obtaining fair compensation for your losses. Remember to prioritize your safety after an accident and consult with a knowledgeable attorney to guide you through the legal proceedings.

Contact The Epstein Law Firm, P.A. Today for a Free Consultation About Your Car Accident Lawsuit

When faced with the challenges of a car accident lawsuit in New Jersey, you need experienced legal allies by your side. Look no further than The Epstein Law Firm, P.A. Our team of dedicated attorneys is here to provide you with the guidance and support you need to navigate the complexities of the legal process successfully.

At The Epstein Law Firm, P.A., we understand the physical, emotional, and financial toll that a car accident can take on your life. With years of experience in handling personal injury cases, we have a deep understanding of New Jersey's laws and insurance systems, enabling us to fight for the compensation you deserve.

Our commitment to excellence, compassionate approach, and tireless advocacy for our clients set us apart. We believe in personalized representation, taking the time to listen to your unique situation, and tailoring our strategies to your specific needs.

When you choose The Epstein Law Firm, P.A., you can trust that your case is in capable hands. We will diligently investigate the accident, determine liability, and build a strong case to maximize your compensation. Whether through skillful negotiation or assertive representation in court, we will tirelessly pursue the best outcome for you.

Don't face the aftermath of a car accident alone. Contact us today for a free consultation, and let us be your trusted legal allies. Together, we will seek justice and work towards securing the future you deserve.