If you’re involved in a car accident in New Jersey, you’re probably wondering what to expect if you decide to make a claim for injuries or for vehicle damage -- from navigating New Jersey’s no-fault car insurance system to understanding the legal landscape if you are able to step outside of no-fault and file a personal injury lawsuit over the accident.
This page provides a guide to all of the New Jersey-specific resources on All-About-Car-Accidents.com, so you can understand key New Jersey laws that could affect your car accident claim, and learn when and how to get help from a New Jersey car accident lawyer.
After a car accident in New Jersey, the first thing to understand is that the state follows a “no-fault” car insurance system, which means you turn first (and sometimes exclusively) to your own car insurance coverage to get compensation for injuries and lost income.
As for the types and limits of coverage that New Jersey drivers are required to carry, they are:
New Jersey drivers can only step outside of the state's no-fault system -- and pursue a claim against the at-fault driver directly -- if the injuries qualify as “serious” under the state’s threshold. In New Jersey, that means an accident that results in dismemberment; significant disfigurement or significant scarring; displaced fractures; loss of a fetus; or permanent injury (other than scarring or disfigurement).
One wrinkle in New Jersey’s no-fault system is that the state allows a “choice” no-fault option. For more details on how this works, check out our New Jersey Car Insurance Laws article.
Remember that if you’re making a vehicle damage claim, no-fault does not apply, and you are free to file a claim under the at-fault driver’s property damage liability policy.
After a car accident, if your injury claim is serious enough to let you file a liability claim against the at-fault driver in New Jersey, there are a few state laws that you need to be aware of, starting with the deadline for filing a personal injury case in court.
In New Jersey, you have two years from the date of the car accident to get your case started by filing the initial complaint with the right branch of New Jersey’s civil court system. You can find this law codified New Jersey Statutes Title 2A, Chapter 14, Sections 2A:14-2 and 14-3.
Learn more about New Jersey laws that could impact your case in our article Car Accident Settlements in New Jersey.
You likely don’t need to hire a New Jersey car accident lawyer if you were involved in a minor car accident and are making a claim through your own car insurance company in line with New Jersey’s no-fault rules. As long as you’re comfortable doing so, you can probably handle that kind of claim yourself.
But if you suffered “serious injury” under New Jersey’s threshold for taking a car accident claim outside of no-fault -- or if you’re trying to prove that your claim should be exempt from no-fault under that threshold -- you might find that there is a lot more at stake, so discussing your situation with an experienced New Jersey car accident lawyer is probably a good idea.
A good car accident attorney knows how to handle the back-and-forth of settlement negotiation, how to anticipate and avoid obstacles in the process, and the best way to protect your rights at every stage in the case, including filing a car accident lawsuit in New Jersey’s court system if that is the right response to your situation.