If you’re contemplating a car accident lawsuit, you have probably wondered how much you could get from your claim.
Some plaintiffs have cases worth tens of millions of dollars, while others are eligible for only a few thousand dollars. It all depends on the facts of your unique case.
In any car accident lawsuit, your payout is based in large part on your damages—the harms and losses that resulted from the accident.
How much money you can sue for in a car accident claim in New Jersey depends on several factors, including:
The value of every car accident claim is different, which is why our attorneys treat every client as an individual with a unique set of circumstances, crafting a legal strategy that maximizes their potential for recovery. Our goal is always to identify and fully document your damages so you receive every dollar of compensation you deserve.
Auto accident compensation in NJ is usually paid by defendants’ auto insurance companies.
One factor that affects how much money someone can sue for in a car accident is the amount of insurance coverage available. Drivers in New Jersey buy bodily injury liability coverage, in amounts between $15,000 per person/$30,000 per accident and $250,000 per person/$500,000 per accident, as part of a standard auto insurance policy. Commercial auto insurance policies often have coverage limits as high as $1,000,000 or more.
If the defendant is uninsured or carries too little insurance coverage, the plaintiff may be able to get compensation from any uninsured motorist (UM) or underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage included in their own policy.
In NJ, the most important laws that affect car accident compensation include:
Generally, the more serious your injuries are, the higher the value of your car accident lawsuit is.
The purpose of the compensation awarded to you is to make you whole after the accident has caused you harm. How much money it takes to accomplish that depends on how much harm you suffered, and the extent of your injuries is an important factor in that determination.
As an example, lacerations are among the most common injuries that result from car accidents, but they can be different in size, depth, and severity. A small cut that requires no medical intervention and heals on its own without scarring may not be severe enough to warrant pursuing a case at all. A deep cut that covers a large part of the body, damages the nerves, requires surgical intervention to heal, and leaves the victim with permanent scarring is a serious injury that could qualify a person for a great deal of financial compensation.
Your injuries and the tests, procedures and therapies performed to treat them are documented in your medical records. Attorneys use these records to demonstrate the severity of your injury.
Under New Jersey law, injuries that don’t meet a certain threshold of severity may not entitle you to compensation for non-economic damages.
NJ policyholders choose between the Unlimited Right to Sue (also known as the “Zero Threshold”) option and the cheaper Limited Right to Sue (also known as the “Verbal Threshold” or “limitation on lawsuit”) option when purchasing auto insurance. Under the verbal threshold, you can’t pursue compensation for pain and suffering compensation if your injuries are not severe.
Even if you chose the verbal threshold or limitation on lawsuit option, you could still pursue a lawsuit for injuries that meet certain criteria of severity:
The verbal threshold only applies to compensation for non-economic damages like pain and suffering. Accident victims can sue for compensation for economic damages even if the verbal threshold applies.
Larger medical expenses correspond to more financial compensation.
Through your lawsuit, you can pursue compensation for the medical bills arising out of your accident. If your medical expenses exceed the PIP coverage limits you selected when purchasing your auto insurance policy, you are responsible for paying your remaining medical bills.
Some NJ drivers opt to save money on their auto insurance premiums by making their health insurance company, rather than their auto insurer, the primary responsible party in the case of an accident. If your health insurance company is the party paying the bills that arise out of your accident, you may be subject to many additional cost-sharing obligations, and the costs to see out-of-network providers may come out of your own pocket. Your health insurance company may demand that you pay back the medical expenses it incurred out of the settlement or jury award you receive.
In some cases, a car accident attorney may be able to negotiate down your medical bills so that you can keep more of your money.
Both the economic and non-economic effects auto accident injuries have on your life can affect the value of your claim. The difference between economic and non-economic damages is whether a clear numerical cost can be attributed to that loss.
Lost wages from missing work due to a disability or medical treatments are a significant part of many personal injury claims. Plaintiffs left with long-term disabilities may be able to sue for decreases in future earning potential. Income loss compensation amounts are calculated based on your usual income and employment prospects.
If your injuries prevent you from performing your usual tasks at home, you may have to temporarily or permanently hire someone else to do this work. You may be able to seek compensation for this expense, too, as part of your car accident claim.
For non-economic damages like pain and suffering, there is no clear numerical figure that corresponds with what you have been through. Your attorney will draw upon their experience to evaluate whether a settlement offer fairly compensates you for all your damages, including pain and suffering. To demonstrate the extent of your pain and suffering, your lawyer will highlight the level of pain you experience each day, your emotional state, and the activities and events you miss out on because of your injuries.
The statute of limitations in New Jersey gives auto accident victims two years to file a complaint (the legal term for a lawsuit). Certain circumstances, including being a minor at the time of the accident and pursuing a case against a government employee, may change this deadline. If you miss the statute of limitations, you lose your right to pursue a case.
Damage caps directly restrict how much money you can recover for certain types of damages in a legal claim. In NJ, there are no caps on economic or non-economic damages, but there are caps on punitive damages.
Rarely, a defendant in a trial may be ordered to pay punitive damages as punishment for particularly egregious behavior. Punitive damages awards in NJ are capped at five times the amount of your compensatory (economic and non-economic) damages or $350,000, whichever is greater.
An accident victim can sue a person or party who is at fault for the accident, but the amount of compensation they are entitled to may be limited by any fault they share for the accident. Generally, the more a party is at fault, the greater their responsibility for paying compensation.
Fault for an auto accident can be complex. When more than one party shares liability for the crash, it affects whose auto insurance company pays and how much a claimant is entitled to receive.
Under New Jersey’s modified comparative negligence law, you can pursue compensation as long as you were not more than 50% at fault, but your compensation is reduced by the percentage at which you were at fault. If your claim is worth $100,000 but your own actions behind the wheel make you 10% at fault for the collision, you would only receive $90,000. It’s worth exploring your options even if you may be partially at fault.
Fault for an auto accident can be split between multiple defendants, such as:
Your attorney will thoroughly investigate matters of complex liability to identify all parties that may have contributed to the auto accident so you can get the most money for your claim.
You can’t determine how much your case is worth without undertaking a thorough evaluation of the facts. Our experienced NJ car accident lawyers offer free, no-obligation consultations and no-win, no-fee legal representation. We will review the facts of your situation and evaluate your case for free. If you choose us to handle your injury claim, you’ll pay nothing unless we succeed in getting you compensation.
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