Understanding the laws that govern your state is essential to having a successful outcome in your legal dispute. One key component that can significantly derail your claim is whether your state is an “at-fault state” or a “no-fault state.” Both laws present a different degree of responsibility for who is responsible for paying for accident damages.
Morelli Law Firm was founded in 1998 and represents various types of personal injury claims, advocating for victims of car accidents, workplace injuries, product liability claims, and more. Our extensive knowledge regarding New Jersey’s operation as a no-fault state has served our clients well in many cases. This article will provide an in-depth analysis of how this regulation impacts you.
What Does Living in a “No-Fault” State Mean?
New Jersey is a no-fault state, meaning that if an accident happens, no matter who is responsible, each person’s car insurance is responsible for covering the cost of medical care. If you were in a car collision, your insurer would cover your injury expenses, and the other driver’s insurer would cover theirs regardless of fault.
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What Kind of Insurance Is Required in a “No-Fault” State?
No-fault insurance, also known as personal injury protection (PIP), is required and typically covers the operator of the vehicle, their passengers, and any qualifying family members. Having an attorney is not necessary to process PIP claims, but it is strongly recommended that you speak with a personal injury attorney regarding your legal options if you suffered serious injuries.
Coverage of PIP Insurance”>Coverage of PIP Insurance
The Automobile Insurance Cost Reduction Act mandates the purchase of auto insurance in New Jersey. This Act offers consumers the choice between regular auto insurance coverage and a basic policy, according to the New Jersey Department of Banking and Insurance. Personal injury protection (PIP), which is required for both kinds of auto insurance, must be obtained. The coverage does, however, vary.
Liability and PIP coverage under the regular policy may each be as little as $15,000 for each person/accident. PIP coverage, however, may also go up to $250,000 or more. Depending on the circumstances, it may exceed $250,000, notwithstanding the chosen restriction. Drivers may select to carry less coverage if they like, although the usual option for standard coverage is $250,000 by default.
Drivers are still required to carry a minimum of $15,000 in PIP coverage per person/accident under the basic policy, however, they are only required to carry up to $250,000 in coverage for some injuries. The “dollar-a-day” policy is another name for this kind of insurance.
How Is Accident Fault Determined in New Jersey?
Fault is not the main determinant of compensation for injuries in a no-fault state like New Jersey. Rather, regardless of who caused the accident, each participant involved is often liable for their own medical costs and associated damages. However, blame could still matter in some situations, including when the severity of the injuries exceeds the legal limits allowed by the state’s laws.
Due to the modified comparative negligence approach used in New Jersey, each driver may be liable for a share of the damages, depending on how negligent they were. A driver, however, can only be compensated for losses if they were only partially to blame for the collision. A driver cannot be awarded damages if they are determined to be at least 50% at fault.
Can New Jersey Accident Victims File a Suit?
In New Jersey, accident victims must select between one of two alternatives when purchasing insurance, which affects their ability to file a lawsuit.
- The verbal or tort threshold
- The absence of either a tort threshold or a lawsuit threshold
The tort choices (your right to sue) are known by a variety of names under various policies, but they all pertain to the same idea. The first option would restrict the kinds of injuries for which you may file a lawsuit, but under the second option, you may file a lawsuit for any injury.
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What Damages Are Recoverable for a New Jersey Collision Victim?
Since New Jersey is a no-fault state, there are restrictions on filing a lawsuit against the at-fault party, however, victims can seek additional damages beyond what’s covered by PIP insurance. If you selected the unlimited right to sue when choosing car insurance, you can be compensated for more types of losses, including:
- Pain and suffering
- Bodily injuries
- Property loss
- Other out-of-pocket damages
What Steps Should Be Taken to Recover Damages in a No-Fault State?
As discussed, fault is not a preliminary factor in New Jersey accident cases, but there are instances in which fault determination will be required. Even as a no-fault state, New Jersey has exceptions that allow victims to collect additional compensation from the responsible party. To support your claim and recover a settlement, consider the following:
- Report the accident: Contacting authorities to document the details of the incident puts the accident into perspective from many angles. Police reports serve as official documents that can be used in court as viable evidence.
- Heavily document everything: Keep a journal of your physical and mental health, take pictures at the scene of damage and injuries, and keep records of the witness’ contact information or medical records.
- Seek treatment: Getting medical care is important not only to preserve your health but also to document the results of your accident. Ensuring that treatment is sought quickly and routinely maintained will solidify your claim.
- Consult with a qualified personal injury lawyer: Even though New Jersey implements no-fault regulation, it is not always a simplified accident process. By contacting an experienced personal injury attorney, you will have someone to help you interpret laws relevant to your case, gather pertinent evidence, and present your case effectively if it goes to trial.