You cannot seek monetary damages for personal injury if you did not get hurt in the accident, but you could recover your property damage or loss. New Jersey has a complicated automobile insurance system. People who drive vehicles in our state can choose between two kinds of insurance policies. One choice is the No Limitation on Lawsuit, also called Zero Threshold. With that type of policy, a policyholder is allowed to sue for damages in the event of a car accident, with no limitations.
If the individual purchased a Limitation on Lawsuit insurance policy, also called a Verbal Threshold policy, they cannot sue the negligent driver for pain and suffering compensation. A New Jersey personal injury attorney can guide you through this tricky legal web of suing for a car accident in New Jersey if you are not hurt.
No Wounds, but Property Damage
New Jersey is a no-fault car accident state, so people whose vehicles sustain damage in collisions usually file under their own automobile insurance policies. With no-fault, it does not matter who caused the crash. Everyone buys their own insurance and makes claims for repairs or replacement of their vehicles under their coverage.
Suing the Negligent Driver
What happens if you did get injured? Even if you have a Limitation on Lawsuit/Verbal Threshold automobile insurance policy, there are six situations in which New Jersey law allows you to sue the at-fault driver for injuries:
- Permanent injury
- Loss of fetus
- Displaced fractures
- Scarring or disfigurement
Most of the situations are determined objectively, meaning that medical evidence will show conclusively if someone is dead or has a displaced fracture. The most common issue is whether a person has suffered a permanent injury.
This question usually gets resolved through expert medical testimony that the wound will not heal back to normal or previous functioning level even with additional treatment. New Jersey law requires a doctor to complete a Certification of Permanency early on in the lawsuit.
Comparative Negligence in New Jersey
Sometimes, it is clear who was at fault. For example, the other driver ran a red light and crashed into your car while you were obeying the traffic laws. At other times, however, more than one person was at fault. Let’s say that the other driver ran a red light, but you were reading a text message on your phone and that distraction prevented you from taking evasive action. The jury assigned 90 percent of the fault to the other driver and 10 percent of the fault to you.
First, the jury determines the total amount of your damages, and then, they reduce that amount by the percentage of your fault. If your damages were $100,000, you could still get $90,000. If the other driver also got injured and had $100,000 in damages, they could not collect any compensation from you. New Jersey has modified comparative fault and does not allow any financial recovery for a person who was more than 50 percent at fault. We realize that New Jersey’s laws that apply to car accidents are confusing, so you might want to talk to a New Jersey personal injury attorney for an evaluation and an explanation of what is likely to happen in your situation. Get in touch with our office today for help with your case, we offer a free consultation.