New Jersey Car Accident Lawyer
If you or someone you love recently suffered a severe injury in a New Jersey car accident, you can identify with the physical pain, emotional stress, and financial burden that comes with the injury. You cannot turn back the clock, and healing takes time, but you can take steps to eliminate some or all of the losses you’ve incurred.
If a negligent party caused your car accident, New Jersey law entitles you to sue that party in civil court for damages related to your accident and injuries. You shouldn’t have to absorb the economic shock of a car accident when another party caused you a personal injury.
If are in need of a car accident lawyer, contact the New Jersey personal injury attorneys at Jacoby & Meyers, LLP. Our team has extensive experience investigating car accidents, communicating with insurance companies, and helping accident victims recover damages for their preventable injuries. We serve clients throughout New Jersey from our offices in Edison and Newark.
Jacoby & Meyers, LLP’s Results in Car Accident Cases
The skilled car accident lawyers at Jacoby & Meyers, LLP, have been advocating for accident victims for over four decades, especially those involved in car accidents. The firm’s continued commitment to justice and professional excellence has resulted in settlements and verdicts for clients totaling tens of millions of dollars.
Some recent case examples include:
- $5,000,000 settlement for a client who suffered severe injuries in a multi-vehicle collision
- $1,272,000 settlement for a client who suffered a fractured wrist, a fractured foot, and permanent scars from car accident injuries
- $1,000,000 verdict for a client who suffered injuries because of an unqualified ambulette driver
- $740,000 settlement for a client who suffered injuries in a rear-end accident
- $400,000 verdict for a client who suffered injuries in a car accident when another driver ran a red light
These are only examples to demonstrate possible results, but they do not guarantee a specific financial outcome. Each car accident claim has underlying circumstances and distinctive facts that can add to or detract from the overall value of a case. The dedicated car accident attorneys at Jacoby & Meyers, LLP, have the resources and experience necessary to uncover the facts of your car accident and build a case against the at-fault party that gives you the best odds of receiving maximum compensation for losses related to the accident and your injuries.
When to Call a Lawyer After a New Jersey Car Accident?
Not all car accidents require legal counsel. In many situations, it is clear that you need a lawyer for representation, and it’s clear that you don’t need one for a minor fender-bender. However, the circumstances of many car accidents fall in between these two extremes. As a general rule, when you are unsure, you should take advantage of a free case evaluation with a qualified attorney.
Some examples of situations where it’s almost always in your best interest to consult with an attorney after a car accident include:
- Serious injuries. If you sustained one or more severe injuries that require you to take an ambulance ride, stay in the hospital, and miss work, you likely will face some significant financial loss. An experienced car accident attorney from Jacoby & Meyers, LLP, can help you recover some or all of those losses.
- Multiple plaintiffs or defendants. Car accidents can include more than one other vehicle. Multi-car crashes or pile-ups create a murky case involving several insurance companies and make it difficult for those involved to determine liability. A skilled car accident attorney can help sort through these situations and help clients maximize their compensation.
- Exhausted personal injury protection (PIP) coverage. New Jersey is one of about a dozen no-fault insurance states. This means that each driver involved in a car accident must file a claim under his or her own mandatory PIP coverage before seeking compensation from the at-fault driver’s insurance policy. Once you have met or exceeded your PIP coverage limits, a car accident lawyer can help you seek compensation outside of New Jersey’s no-fault insurance system.
- Denied claim. If your carrier or the other driver’s carrier deny your insurance claim, especially when liability is obvious, you need a lawyer to protect you. Insurance companies find all sorts of reasons to deny claims, including dubious reasons, like submission errors and other technicalities. Often, insurance carriers won’t play these games when legal counsel is involved.
- Death. If you lost a loved one as a result of fatal injuries in a car accident, you might be eligible for compensation in a wrongful death suit, depending on your relationship with the deceased.
Careless and Negligent Drivers Cause Car Accidents in New Jersey
In the last several years, the incidents of traffic crashes have increased in New Jersey. According to the New Jersey Department of Transportation, more than 278,000 traffic accidents occurred in just one year, including approximately 61,000 that resulted in one or more injuries and 524 fatal crashes. Negligence caused most of those accidents.
Many different situations can lead to a car accident, most of which are preventable. However, the vast majority of car accidents occur because of careless and negligent drivers. Examples of negligent driving behavior that can lead to a severe, sometimes deadly, car accident include:
The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that one-third of all car accidents involve speeding. Drivers who are rushed, running late, or simply lack patience may choose to speed when they get behind the wheel. Speeding makes it more likely that a driver will lose control of his or her vehicle and makes it more difficult to react to road hazards and other vehicles. Speeding also increases the impact of a car accident, making it more likely that those involved will suffer severe or fatal injuries.
Driving without enough sleep is commonplace for many in New Jersey and across the nation. Truck drivers, shift workers, and those with sleep disorders are most vulnerable to causing an accident, because they are drowsy or fatigued. Not having enough rest slows down reaction time and impairs the senses. In fact, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) claims that 18 hours without sleep impairs a driver to the same extent as someone who has a 0.08 blood or breath alcohol level after consuming alcohol.
Driving Under the Influence
Driving under the influence typically refers to alcohol use, but drug use can also impair drivers and cause severe car accidents. In either situation, enjoying cocktails at happy hours, celebrating with drugs or alcohol, drinking too much wine for dinner, and unwinding after a long week at work results in too many motorists driving under the influence. Controlled substances impact each person differently, making it common for someone to misjudge his or her level of impairment. These poor judgments can lead to severe and sometimes fatal car accidents.
New Jersey defines distracted driving as “any activity that could divert a person’s attention away from the primary task of driving.” Drivers have to focus on driving, so they can react to the information on the road, such as road conditions, hazards, and other drivers. Distracted drivers can’t react appropriately and thus put others at risk for severe injury or death. Examples of distractions, besides using cell phones and texting, include drinking, eating, adjusting the radio, adjusting climate controls, adjusting seats, combing hair, putting on makeup, daydreaming, reaching for dropped items, engaging in heavy conversations, and focusing on events outside of the car.
Defense Strategies in New Jersey Car Accidents
Those named as defendants in a personal injury lawsuit after a car accident will do everything in their power to avoid financial responsibility.
Tactics the defense might employ to reduce the value of your car accident claim include:
- Shifting the blame your way. The insurance company or their lawyers will try to blame you for the accident when possible. They will relentlessly review the facts and try to find anything that shows you contributed to the accident in some way.
- Downplaying your injuries. The defense might claim your injuries aren’t as bad as they seem, dispute the type and cost of medical treatment you needed or continue to need, and dispute the amount of time you need to heal before returning to work. If you’ve suffered catastrophic injuries, it’s likely the defense will also try to devalue the amount of future medical care you or your loved one needs. Finally, defense teams sometimes claim plaintiffs have preexisting injuries as a way to avoid liability.
- Making a low settlement offer. When insurance companies know their policyholder is partially or fully liable for damages after a car accident, they sometimes offer claimants or plaintiffs a quick settlement offer soon after the accident. These initial offers are meant to attract plaintiffs to waive their right to sue, take their money, and run. Yet, these initial offers are typically far less than what a plaintiff deserves for compensation after serious injuries and losses related to a car accident. It’s in your best interest to consult a lawyer before accepting any offer from an insurance company. Attorneys are trained negotiators, who can often obtain a higher settlement offer than you would on your own.
The car accident attorneys at Jacoby & Meyers, LLP, anticipate the tactics that defense legal teams and insurance companies will use in car accident claims and have the resources and experience to fight against them.
New Jersey Car Accident Frequently Asked Questions FAQs
Recent criminal proceedings led a 73-year-old Newton woman to admit that she was at fault for a three-car crash that seriously injured two people. When accepting a plea deal, the woman admitted to being nearly three times over the legal limit of alcohol impairment at the time the crash took place.
The accident occurred in front of the D&E Service Center on Route 206 near the Andover Borough border. The woman crossed over the double yellow lines into oncoming traffic causing a head-on collision. Her vehicle struck two other cars, causing one to spin around into opposing traffic lanes. One of the drivers was transported by helicopter to a regional hospital with serious injuries, while the other driver was transported by ambulance with minor injuries. The woman, who was sentenced to a 30-day period of home detention, was also seriously injured in the crash.
As one of the most densely populated states in the nation, New Jersey faces a major issue in car accidents. Each year, about 60,000 injury accidents occur on New Jersey roadways. Some common questions about car accidents asked by prospective clients include:
What is liability in a car accident?
Liability is typically understood as the state of being responsible for something. In the context of a car accident, liability is the reckless or careless action of another that contributed to causing the collision. For example, if a driver who is legally impaired causes an accident with another vehicle, they are the liable party. The impaired driver would be liable for any injuries or property damage sustained by the driver and occupants of the other car.
If I was injured in a car accident, do I have to file a claim with my own insurance company?
New Jersey is a no-fault insurance state. States who follow a no-fault approach require drivers to purchase insurance coverage that includes a Personal Injury Protection (PIP) policy when they register their vehicles. The minimum policy provides $15,000 to cover medical expenses, lost income, or other out-of-pocket expenses related to the accident. Generally, this is the first policy that an injured person will access for compensation, regardless of fault.
Can I still sue the at-fault driver, even if I have filed a claim on my PIP policy?
The short answer is that it depends. There are two types of auto insurance offered in New Jersey: a standard plan and a basic plan. The basic plan is for those who do not have family responsibilities or many assets they wish to protect. The basic insurance policy has a lower premium than the standard policy. However, it only provides the minimum amount of personal injury protection, bodily injury liability, and property damage liability coverage.
The standard policy provides policyholders with the choice between a limited or unlimited right to claim expenses from the party responsible for the accident.
Drivers who have the basic insurance policy or choose only a limited right to sue, may only file a claim against an at-fault driver if they sustained permanent injuries such as:
- Loss of a body part
- Significant disfigurement or scarring
- A displaced fracture
- Loss of a fetus
When a permanently injured party’s medical or property damage expenses exceed the limits of their personal injury protection policy, they may sue the at-fault driver for economic losses.
What damages can I seek to recover in a personal injury lawsuit?
If you suffered a permanent injury or have purchased a standard insurance policy with unlimited right to sue, you may recover the following damages:
- Medical expenses, including emergency treatment at the scene, transportation to the hospital, surgeries, medical equipment, diagnostic testing, hospitalization, prescription medication, and physical or psychological therapy related to the injury.
- Property damage to your car.
- Lost income if your injuries prevent you from returning to work or cause you to miss work to seek treatment.
- Loss of earning capacity if you become permanently disabled due to your injuries.
- Emotional and physical pain and suffering.
Can someone else be liable in a single-car crash?
While single-car accidents are often the fault of the driver, this isn’t always the case. If another party’s actions contributed to causing the collision, you may have the right to sue that party if you meet the above-mentioned criteria.
Liable parties in a single-car accident may include:
- The manufacturer or distributor of the parts that were used on your car, if those parts are defective.
- Other drivers, whose actions may have caused your accident, even if they were not ultimately involved in the accident.
- Governmental agencies tasked with maintaining the roadways if a roadway defect or an obstacle caused the accident. For example, the government may be responsible if overgrown vegetation blocked a driver’s view at an intersection contributing to the collision.
Accidents involving bicyclists or pedestrians are often referred to as single-car crashes. If the driver’s actions caused a collision with a pedestrian or cyclist, they may be liable for any resulting injuries or damage.
Can more than one person or entity cause a single accident?
Of course, a single accident may have multiple contributing factors and multiple responsible parties. Many accidents do not simply involve two vehicles with one clearly at-fault driver. Sometimes, multiple drivers contribute to causing the accident, and as such they share liability for any damages. Other times, another driver may have caused the accident but was not involved in the collision. Less frequently, someone who was not physically present at the scene may be liable for the accident. For example, an employer may be responsible if an employee causes an accident within the scope of their employment.
It is not uncommon for an accident to be caused by multiple contributing factors. For example, a rear-end collision may be caused by both defective brake lights on the leading vehicle as well as tailgating by the driver of the following vehicle. As long as you were not more than fifty percent at fault for the accident, you may collect compensation from other liable parties. Experienced personal injury attorneys regularly help injured victims identify all parties that may be potentially responsible for a car accident. When appropriate, an attorney may thoroughly investigate the circumstances leading up the accident to establish potential sources of liability.
Is there a limit on how much compensation I can receive?
Injured victims will likely be entitled to seek compensation for any economic expenses they incur as a result of the accident. In some cases, injured victims may also seek compensation for non-economic expenses—such as pain and suffering.
In some cases, injured victims may be entitled to an award of punitive damages. Punitive damages are not intended to compensate victims for expenses they have incurred. Rather, they are additional damages intended to punish the liable party when particularly egregious behavior caused an accident. In New Jersey, an award of punitive damages may not exceed five times the amount of compensatory damages or $350,000, whichever is greater.
What makes my car accident case eligible for a personal injury lawsuit?
Contact an attorney to evaluate whether the specific facts of your accident will permit you to file a personal injury lawsuit against the responsible parties. Generally, injured parties must hold a standard policy with either an unlimited or limited right to sue to file a personal injury claim. If the injured victim has only the basic insurance policy, they must suffer a permanent injury to file a suit that includes pain and suffering. Those who have exceeded the limits of their policy and still have remaining expenses may sue for those expenses. Most drivers may sue an at-fault party for property damage to their car.
In addition to insurance, establishing which parties bear legal liability is important in determining whether you are eligible to file a claim. If you are more than 50 percent responsible for the accident, you will not be permitted to pursue compensation from another party, even if they were also at fault. Additionally, the statute of limitations may dictate whether you are eligible to file a personal injury claim. The statute of limitations provides a time period within which injured parties may file a claim. If you attempt to file a claim after the time period expires, you will likely be barred from pursuing your claim.
The party that caused my car accident was arrested at the scene. Does that affect my right to file a personal injury lawsuit?
No, an arrest of an at-fault party at the scene of the accident does not prevent an injured party from filing a personal injury lawsuit. Individuals are arrested in conjunction with criminal charges. The government is responsible for proving those charges in criminal court. A conviction may result in financial penalties, incarceration, and other penalties. A personal injury lawsuit, however, is a civil matter independent of any criminal proceedings resulting from the accident. Personal injury claims provide a mechanism for injured victims to seek financial compensation for their injuries.
A liable party’s criminal conviction will not adversely affect the outcome of your civil personal injury claim. In fact, a conviction may positively support your claim that the other party was at fault for the accident.
What is the time limit for filing a personal injury lawsuit?
In New Jersey, the statute of limitations permits injured parties to file a personal injury claim within two years of the date of the accident. If the statute of limitations expires before you file your claim, you may be completely barred from pursuing compensation from the at-fault party. Don’t hesitate to contact an attorney. The sooner an attorney can begin working on a claim, the sooner they can prepare a case and, when appropriate, begin negotiating a settlement.
If I file a lawsuit, does that mean my case is going to court?
The resolution of personal injury claims does not always require the parties to engage in court proceedings. In New Jersey, like most other states, the vast majority of personal injury cases are settled out of court. During the settlement process, an attorney may negotiate with the responsible party’s insurance provider on an injured party’s behalf.
Any time the insurance company offers an injured party a settlement, the attorney must discuss the offer with the injured party they represent. You will ultimately decide whether you accept or reject the terms of the offer. If you accept, a settlement agreement will be drafted and signed by the responsible parties and the injured victim. Settlement negotiations may continue throughout the process anytime before a jury trial verdict. Judges often set a settlement conference before trial to facilitate an agreement.
However, if the parties cannot come to an agreement, the case may proceed to trial where a judge or jury will decide how much compensation an injured party deserves.
Do I need an attorney?
If your injuries require treatment, hospitalization, or missed time from work, you may benefit from the advice of our experienced New Jersey car accident attorneys. If you are having difficulty getting your PIP policy provider to pay your claim or the at-fault party’s insurance company offered a quick, low settlement, you should contact us.
New Jersey’s laws pertaining to insurance and personal injury lawsuits can be extremely complex. Our team at Jacoby & Meyers, LLP, regularly fights for the rights of injured victims to seek the compensation they are entitled to. Our experience has enabled us to successfully obtain compensation for many clients. Contact us today for a free consultation and case evaluation. We look forward to hearing from you.
Seeking Damages After a New Jersey Car Accident
Once you have met or exceeded your PIP coverage and decide to sue for damages in civil court, you can receive compensation for a wide array of expenses and losses related to a car accident and accompanying injuries. Settlements and verdicts potentially include compensatory and punitive damages. New Jersey courts reserve punitive damages for cases involving intentional harm or extreme negligence.
Courts typically award compensatory damages to accident victims, which may include compensation for the following:
- Medical expenses, such as ambulance and emergency services, hospitalization, diagnostic imaging, surgery, aftercare, travel expenses, and prescription medication
- Future costs of medical treatment when injuries require continued care or additional surgery
- Rehabilitation costs, including physical therapy, occupational therapy, behavioral therapy, and other specialties, as well as assistive devices, such as crutches, wheelchairs, artificial limbs, canes, and walkers
- Lost wages for missing work due to injury, hospitalization, and healing
- Future lost wages when an injury prevents a victim from returning to work or seeking future employment
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of consortium with a spouse
- Decreased quality of life
- Scarring and disfigurement
- Any other non-economic cost that might apply to your car accident injuries
Hire Our Experienced New Jersey Car Accident Lawyer Today
The knowledgeable and compassionate New Jersey car accident lawyers at Jacoby & Meyers, LLP, understand the challenges you face after sustaining severe injuries in a car accident. We can investigate your accident, handle the details of your claim, and advocate for you to recover compensation for the full cost of the losses related to your injuries. If you sustained injuries or lost a loved one in a New Jersey car accident, you shouldn’t have to deal with the financial aftermath when another party caused the accident.
“I highly recommend hiring Jacoby & Meyers should you ever find yourself injured in an accident, and an individual or company needs to be held accountable for their negligence.” -C.J.
If you choose Jacoby & Meyers, LLP, to represent you in your car accident claim, you don’t have to pay fees upfront to retain our services. We handle cases on a contingency fee basis and collect attorney fees from any compensation that we secure for you.
If you live in New Jersey, contact Jacoby & Meyers, LLP, online, call us at (877) 505-2368, or feel free to start a live chat with one of our representatives right now for a free case evaluation and to learn how we can help you after a car accident.