Almost everyone is involved in at least 1 car accident in their lifetime — and for most people, many more than that. While some car crashes involve serious injury or fatality, the majority result in minor injuries or no injury at all.
For residents of New Jersey, auto accidents are a far too common occurrence.
As the chart above shows, the number of crashes from 2001 to 2018 has ebbed and flowed, but remains fairly constant at or above 250,000 crashes per year — or nearly 700 every day.
While that might seem like a staggeringly high number of car crashes, there are more than 6 million licensed drivers in New Jersey.
Each state is either "at fault" or "no fault" when it comes to car insurance.
In New Jersey, the damages are paid by the driver who caused the accident (or that driver's insurance policy).
New Jersey requires each driver to have Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance. This covers your medical bills after an accident regardless of who was at fault. This would apply to you or any other person covered under your insurance policy.
There are 2 kinds of PIP coverage:
Home care coverage is optional. But if paying someone to maintain your household and provide childcare would be difficult for you, it would probably be a wise purchase.
If you're the driver who caused the accident, your Bodily Injury Liability insurance takes effect. This would cover a claim made by an injured person who was injured or killed because of your negligence.
New Jersey allows for a lawsuit to cover expenses outside PIP/no-fault insurance for accidents that result in one of these serious injuries:
Even though New Jersey is a no-fault state, sometimes the damages resulting from a serious car accident are so severe that they exceed the amount covered by a person's insurance policy. In such cases, the crash victim or their family may need to sue the at-fault driver by filing a personal injury or wrongful death claim.
In these cases, the following elements must be proven to successfully file suit:
Each state follows 1 of 4 fault systems.
Often, negligence isn't attributed to just 1 party. The court might find that both drivers had some level of negligence for the accident — in other words, it's not always one-sided.
Here's an example:
Driver Daisy is driving safely and at the correct speed limit. She sees a bicyclist in her lane and swerves to avoid hitting him. In doing so, she causes a head-on collision with Motorist Michelle.
Michelle was also driving safely, and she was in the lane approaching Daisy. But at the exact moment Daisy swerved to avoid the cyclist, Michelle reached behind her to hand a snack to her child in the back seat. In doing so, she couldn't react quickly enough to avoid a collision with Daisy.
Michelle suffers a traumatic brain injury and sues Daisey for $100,000.
The court finds that Daisy was, indeed, at fault for the accident. She should've realized that she couldn't pass the bicyclist and avoid oncoming traffic at the same time. The correct thing for her to do would've been to slow down and wait behind the cyclist until Michelle passed.
However, Michelle was negligent, too. Handing something to a backseat passenger could be construed as a form of distracted driving.
In this scenario, Michelle might be found to be 20% liable for the accident, so the court would reduce her total $100,00 award by 20% — to $80,000.
But if Michelle was found to be 51% liable, she wouldn't be able recover any damages whatsoever.
Comparative negligence means that if the plaintiff had partial responsibility for the accident, their damage amount is reduced by the percentage of fault. In New Jersey, the plaintiff can't recover any damages if their percentage of fault is 51% or higher.
A personal injury lawyer is the best person to provide advice and guidance after a car accident. When you consult with a lawyer, they will gather additional evidence and use the expert advice of actuaries, accountants, physicians, and other professionals who can provide accurate guidance for how much your settlement should be worth.
If you're looking for a New Jersey car accident attorney, the Enjuris lawyer directory is a great way to find help. Using this free resource, you can find a lawyer near you who will help you to recover the compensation you need after a car accident.