After a serious motor vehicle accident, you may find yourself concerned about your financial well-being – especially as you make long-term plans for the future. While an insurance settlement may certainly help, car accident injuries have a way of upending our lives in permanent ways that may require funds for a more stable financial life. You may not want to sue unless absolutely necessary. So, then, when is it necessary?
Before you file your lawsuit
Because New Jersey is a no-fault insurance state, you will have to first file a claim with your own insurance company. This can benefit you in that you may receive compensation for immediate medical expenses faster than via other claim settlements.
That said, it may be necessary to sue if your insurance settlement does not cover the extent of your financial needs and pain and suffering. But your right to sue for pain and suffering may be limited because of the no-fault policy. Additionally, New Jersey is also a choice no-fault state with a verbal threshold – meaning there is a degree the injuries must meet before you can sue the negligent party. So, as you can see, whether you have the ability to pursue a lawsuit may depend on several factors. And then there is the comparative negligence element to consider.
Comparative negligence and how it applies to your case
New Jersey personal injury cases follow a modified comparative negligence standard. If the court finds you over 50% at fault for your accident, you will not recover any compensation. The amount you do recover, if the court finds you less than 50% at fault, will vary based on the determined percent of your responsibility. This means if you are 30% at fault, you may collect 70% of the amount for damages suffered. If, for example, the suffered damages amount to $80,000, you would collect 70% of that, or $56,000.
In New Jersey, you have two years from the date of your accident to file a personal injury claim. You would benefit your case most to prepare as close to the date of your accident as possible.