New Jersey Car Accident Settlement Process and Timeline

What comes to mind when you think of New Jersey? How about power? Not just commuters to the Big Apple, or behind-the-scenes movers and shakers, but figures like Chris Christie and Tony Soprano. But even the powerful have to deal with the headaches of everyday life, like car accidents. Christie had at least six accidents to deal with. And Soprano and his associates were crashing their cars all the time in his fictional take on New Jersey life.

But that's mobsters and politicians -- we're sure they have connections to take care of their accidents. What about regular people? What should they expect when settling car accident claims? Read on to learn more about the New Jersey car accident settlement process and timeline.

Do I Need to Report a Car Accident in New Jersey?

New Jersey's accident reporting requirements depend on how severe the accident is. If the accident resulted in an injury to a person, the driver responsible for the accident is required to call and file an oral report with the local police station as soon as possible. The same requirement applies if there is property damage of $500 or more. Of course, regardless of reporting requirements, you should exchange your insurance and contact information with the other car's owner.

In addition, a written report must be filed within 10 days with the New Jersey Vehicle Commission.

New Jersey Car Insurance Laws

New Jersey's mandatory minimum insurance requirements, which were lessened with the passage of the Automobile Insurance Cost Reduction Act, include coverage of:

  • Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance of $15,000 per person, per accident and up to $250,000 for certain injuries
  • $5,000 per accident

Note that New Jersey is a rare "no fault" insurance state -- a driver's PIP insurance covers her own injuries regardless of fault. However, drivers are advised to carry liability insurance as well, as if they are at fault, the other driver's PIP coverage may not cover all of the damages and the at-fault driver may be held responsible for any overages.

How Do Car Accident Settlements Work in New Jersey?

Cases almost never go to trial. Instead, the parties settle, rather than risk losing at trial. A settlement guarantees compensation. It also saves on attorneys fees and stress, both of which are found in abundance in a courtroom setting Instead, settlements allow the parties to control the outcome, typically meaning they drop the pending lawsuit after negotiating a mutually agreeable remedy and putting the terms of the settlement in writing.

New Jersey does not require mandatory settlement conferences in all cases, but judges are explicitly allowed to order a single such conference on a case-by-case basis before trial, as well as give the parties an opportunity to settle on the actual day of trial. Even without a judge's help, it is almost always the case that your attorney will discuss settlement options with you and the other party.

What Is the Average Car Accident Settlement in New Jersey?

Coming up with an average car accident settlement is virtually impossible, since cases vary widely -- bumping a parked car causes less pain, anguish, and property damage than a street racer who collides with spectators. What is more important is the amount of injuries in your particular case.

To determine a fair settlement amount in your case, the parties and their attorneys will likely consider:

  • The amount and evidence of fault and damages
  • Insurance coverage (insurance companies won’t pay more than policy limits)
  • Car repairs
  • Medical bills (past and future)
  • Pain and suffering
  • Lost wages from time away from work

How Long Do I Have to File a Car Accident Lawsuit in New Jersey?

New Jersey has a time limit (statute of limitations) for filing a legal case: you have two years from the date of the accident for personal injury claims and six years for property damage. This time limit is strict -- do not ignore it while your claim is pending with an insurance company, as insurance claims do not extend your time to file. Speak to an attorney early in order to ensure that you still have time to file a lawsuit if needed.

Get a Free Claim Review from a New Jersey Attorney

It is incredibly difficult to determine what your damages are and what a jury is likely to give you. A free claim review from an experienced New Jersey car accident attorney can help and potentially prevent other issues, like missing a filing deadline that could end your case before it begins. Never sign a settlement agreement without consulting an attorney first -- they are nearly always final and binding, and without the advice of an attorney, you could end up with an insufficient amount to cover your injuries or you could even waive claims altogether.

Next Steps: Search for a Local Attorney

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