New Jersey Car Accident Lawyer
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FIGHTING FOR NEW JERSEY CAR ACCIDENT VICTIMS
Reckless, distracted, or negligent drivers, as well as roadwork maintenance crews and faulty vehicle parts: any combination of these issues have the potential to cause serious accidents that can leave people with major physical injuries and expensive property damage. Car accident injuries can be life-changing, causing pain, suffering, and even death.
If you or a loved one were involved in a car accident in NJ time is of the essence as evidence from the accident needs to be preserved and documented to prove your case. For thoughtful, compassionate car accident help, contact the NJ car accident lawyers at Richard J. Hollawell and associates for a free consultation.
DO I HAVE A CAR ACCIDENT CLAIM IN NEW JERSEY?
Whenever a car accident occurs, you should always receive a car accident report or “crash report” from the police. In NJ, you can fill out a self-report form for a crash, but in almost all cases, filing a report with the police is your best chance of receiving compensation for your lost or damaged property and medical bills. Having an official police report makes your case much stronger when going before a judge, so even if you feel your accident was minor, it is always wise to get an official police report because chances are you need it later, especially if you are filing a car accident claim.
Of course, filing a police report is just one of many steps you need to take after having a car accident in NJ. In this article, we will discuss what to do after a car accident and how you can help ensure that you file a successful claim to get the money you need to get your life back on track.
WHOSE INSURANCE PAYS FOR A CAR ACCIDENT IN NJ?
New Jersey is a no-fault car insurance state, so after an accident, you typically need to file the claim under your own personal injury protection coverage to receive compensation for either property loss, medical expenses, or other related costs, regardless of who is at fault in the accident. New Jersey vehicle owners must have at least a basic insurance policy.
Under this no-fault policy, your insurance company will cover your financial damages for you, up to the policy’s limits. A no-fault claim can compensate you for your injuries but not for vehicle damage.
In the most serious cases, a driver can directly sue the at-fault driver outside those parameters. That includes accidents that involve death or severe injuries, such as:
- Significant scarring or disfigurement
- Loss of a body part
- Loss of a fetus
- Permanent injury
- Displaced fracture
WHAT ARE SOME COMMON CAR ACCIDENT INJURIES
Every car accident has different circumstances, and the intense forces involved in a crash can cause any number of various injuries, ranging from minor scrapes and bruises to more severe injuries, such as life-altering traumatic brain injury. However, even injuries that may seem insignificant at first, such as whiplash, can cause far more physical damage than is first apparent. It’s important to remember that after a serious car accident, your adrenaline will flow, causing you to feel less pain than you are actually experiencing.
Some common car accident injuries include, but are not limited to:
Brain and Head Injuries
Head injuries are among the most common injuries resulting from a car accident. Their severity can vary, but all can be dangerous and seriously affect your health and quality of life, including injuries like:
- Concussions: Concussions are caused by an impact that makes the brain strike the inside of the skull, causing swelling and trauma to the brain.
- Piercing: Debris from the outside environment, as well as pieces of the vehicles involved in the accident, can cause penetration wounds when they impact a skull, usually resulting in severe bleeding and brain injuries.
- Diffuse axonal injuries: These injuries occur when a sudden twisting motion causes damage to the brain and surrounding structures, causing the brain structures to tear.
Chest and Abdominal Injuries
An impact to the chest or lower torso can cause injuries to vital internal organs like the heart, liver, and kidneys. Even when the damage to these organs isn’t as severe, you can still suffer from painful injuries like muscle strains, fractured bones, and bruised ribs.
Knee and Leg Injuries
Car crashes are a very common cause of broken bones because of the large forces involved during a crash. The bones cannot handle the load and break when this force impacts the leg. These forces also create a large potential for joint damage as any twisting motions cause the joints to bend in awkward ways or twist, causing tearing of the soft tissue.
The neck has a close connection to the central nervous system. As such, any damage to the neck area can result in a number of serious injuries, such as ligament damage, vocal cord damage, and even emotional disorders.
Whiplash is a specific type of neck injury caused by a snapping motion in the neck during a car crash. When whiplash occurs, the soft tissue in the neck tears and swells, leading to lasting neurological issues like neck pain, shoulder pain, migraines, and dizziness.
LIST OF CAR ACCIDENTS BY STATE
Car accidents are a significant concern in many states across the United States, and New Jersey is no exception. As of 2023, New Jersey is seeing a lower rate of car accidents compared to some of the top offenders in the list of car accidents by state, but there is still plenty of room for improvement.
According to the 2020 New Jersey State Police Fatal Motor Vehicle Crash Summary, there were a total of 247,000 car accidents in New Jersey in 2020. These accidents resulted in 61,000 injuries and 524 fatalities.
When comparing car accident statistics to other states, New Jersey does have a lower rate of car accidents compared to more populous states. For example, Texas had over 370,000 car accidents in 2020, and California had over 322,000 car accidents. However, it’s important to note that New Jersey is a much smaller state in terms of land area and population compared to Texas and California. Whereas Texas has 29 million people and California has 39 million, NJ has only 9 million, meaning the per capita car accident rate is significantly higher.
Regarding car accident fatalities, New Jersey also has a lower rate than many other states. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), New Jersey had a fatality rate of 0.81 per 100 million vehicle miles traveled (VMT) in 2019. That is lower than the national average of 1.11 fatalities per 100 million VMT. In comparison, some states had much higher fatality rates, such as Mississippi, with a rate of 1.85 per 100 million VMT, and Wyoming, with a rate of 1.56 per 100 million VMT.
LEADING CAUSES OF CAR ACCIDENTS IN NEW JERSEY
The leading causes of car accidents in New Jersey are as follows:
- Distracted driving: This is the leading cause of car accidents in New Jersey, accounting for over 25% of all accidents. Distracted driving can involve anything that takes your attention away from the road, such as texting, talking on the phone, eating, or adjusting the radio.
- Speeding: Speeding is another major factor in car accidents. When drivers exceed the speed limit, they have less time to react to hazards and are likelier to lose control of their vehicles. Speeding is a factor in about 15% of car accidents in New Jersey.
- Driving under the influence (DUI): DUI is a serious problem in New Jersey and a leading cause of fatal car accidents. In 2021, drunk and high drivers were responsible for 35% of all fatal car accidents in the state.
WHAT SHOULD I DO AFTER A CAR ACCIDENT?
You must act immediately if you or a loved one has been involved in a car accident. The State of New Jersey requires that you report the accident to law enforcement if it involves injury, death, or more than $500 in damage to the vehicles or property. You must then submit a written report to the NJ DOT within ten days of the accident.
Of course, even if your accident does not meet the above requirements, reporting the car crash to law enforcement is always a good idea. Car issues may arise a few days later, as well as medical issues. Having a document of the accident helps to prove to your insurance that your injuries, or damages to your vehicle, were caused by the crash and not another issue.
Besides calling law enforcement or emergency services, you also should do the following:
- Note details about the road conditions/weather at the time of the accident.
- Make solid observations about the accident, such as what you saw and what each car and driver was doing when it occurred. Also, identify all potential witnesses.
- See a doctor as soon as you can after the accident.
- Take photos of the vehicles, the accident scene, your injuries, and anything else pertinent to the accident.
These steps can help solidify your case and provide the proof needed to compensate you for your financial losses or injuries.
WHAT DO I NEED TO PROVE IN A CAR ACCIDENT CLAIM IN NEW JERSEY?
The statute of limitations in New Jersey for filing a claim in a motor vehicle accident case is two years. Therefore, it is imperative that you file your claim before this time period is up. If you decide to bring a lawsuit against the other party involved in the car accident, you will need to prove fault on the part of the other party, as well as prove that you and/or your property suffered damages in the accident.
A skilled New Jersey car accident lawyer can help you prove that the other party was responsible for the crash by thoroughly investigating the accident scene, viewing traffic and surveillance cameras, and other methods. If your crash involved a drunk driver, a breathalyzer or blood/urine tests will be important for your case.
You can also use eyewitness statements, the police report, records of your medical treatment post-accident, cell phone records (which can determine if they were using their phone while driving), and photos of the accident scene to prove your case. That is why gathering information immediately after the car accident and maintaining all of your records related to the accident, whether medical financial or otherwise, is crucial. All of this information is vitally important and will ultimately make all the difference between losing or winning your case.
In one of our own motor vehicle accident cases, we successfully sued a bar in Trenton, New Jersey, for over-serving one of their patrons. The patron then left the restaurant and got behind the wheel of a vehicle even though his blood alcohol level was over four times the legal limit. As a result, he got into an accident that seriously injured two of his passengers (our clients). The driver lost control of the vehicle and crashed into a wall. The passengers were Sergeants in the Air Force. They sustained life-altering and career-altering injuries due to this horrific and preventable crash. The passengers were compensated $1,075,000 in total, representing one of NJ’s top car accident payouts.
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO GET A CAR ACCIDENT PAYOUT?
When trying to sort out how long it takes to get a payout for a personal injury suit, it’s important to remember that the vast majority of personal injury cases are settled before they reach trial.
That means that the amount of time it takes to receive a settlement is much shorter than an extended trial could take. It generally takes one to two months to receive a car accident settlement. While every case will be different, once a settlement is reached, the insurance company will require that you sign a release.
Once you have signed the release, the victim expenses are paid (things like car repair and medical bills), attorney fees are paid, and then you are awarded your compensation.
WHAT ARE YOU ENTITLED TO IN A CAR ACCIDENT?
If you are not at fault in a car accident, you can file an insurance claim with the other driver’s insurance provider or contact an attorney and file a lawsuit against the appropriate parties. In both cases, you can get compensation for the losses you suffered. Compensation will cover medical expenses, property damage, lost wages, and pain and suffering. In a lawsuit, you and your attorney must prove that your injuries wouldn’t have happened if the other driver hadn’t been negligent.
In a situation where you’re at partial fault, you can get compensation for the same types of damages, but it will be at a reduced percentage depending on how much fault you bear for the accident. That is what is known as comparative negligence. A New Jersey car accident lawyer can help you understand what your comparative negligence portion might be if you, in fact, believe that you were partially at fault in the accident.
HOW SHOULD I ACT AFTER A CAR ACCIDENT?
A car accident can be a shocking and overwhelming experience, so it is important that you know ahead of time what steps everyone should take after a car accident. To have the best chance at proving the other party was at fault and winning your case, you’ll want to make sure that you take the following steps immediately following the accident:
- Protect the scene: If you have flares, you may need to use them, but at the very least, put your hazard lights on. Protecting the scene isn’t only for the benefit of others on the road and your own safety.
- Contact the police: You should contact the police even if there isn’t a serious injury. Many states require that you contact the police after a crash, and most insurance companies require a police report to make a claim for vehicular damage.
- Take pictures: You’ll want to do all you can to make a record of the crash and gather evidence to make your case. That includes taking pictures of things like damage to the vehicle and visible injuries that you have.
- Report the accident: You’ll want to contact your insurance provider to find out what coverage applies and begin your insurance claim process.
- Seek medical treatment: You should seek medical treatment as soon as possible after a car crash, even if you don’t think you’ve been injured and feel okay. It is of the utmost importance that a medical professional examines you. It is the best way to catch any developing injuries and to create a medical record that can tie any personal injuries to the crash.
- Contact an attorney: If you or a loved one has been involved in a car accident, you’ll want to contact an experienced personal injury attorney to make sure all of your legal interests are being looked after
HOW DO I GET THE MOST MONEY FROM A CAR ACCIDENT?
The amount of money you can win following a personal injury claim related to a car accident in New Jersey will depend on the specific details of your case. However, there are some steps you can take to maximize your compensation.
The first step is to document as much as possible to make sure you have evidence to support your case. The second step is to contact a personal injury lawyer. A knowledgeable attorney can help you get the largest possible award by negotiating settlements and prosecuting your case.
HOW LONG DOES A NJ CAR ACCIDENT LAWSUIT TAKE?
The amount of time a car accident lawsuit takes to resolve depends upon the specifics of the case. Still, there are a few timelines that are more common, ranging from a few months to possibly a few years. For the most part, the majority of car accident lawsuits will be settled out of court after about two months. However, depending on the severity of the injuries of the people involved (meaning the monetary cost of the damages is higher) or whether a lawsuit plays out in court, the case could take years to resolve.
WHAT IS THE AVERAGE PAYOUT FOR A CAR ACCIDENT IN NEW JERSEY?
The amount you could get in compensation will vary depending on the specific details of your case. Still, on average, a car accident settlement will be anywhere from $15,000 to $28,000. The size of the payout will largely depend on the severity of the injuries to the victims involved.
The payouts also tend to be higher if the negligent driver was operating the vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
Although there is no exact formula, insurance companies have analyzed statistics to calculate roughly how much your claim may be worth to predict what a jury could potentially award you if the case were to reach trial. That helps them determine the payout they initially offer you and is why you should always speak with an attorney before accepting an initial offer from an insurance company.
Remember, insurance companies are not looking out for your best interests and are always trying to settle for the lowest amount possible. As a former insurance adjuster, Richard Hollawell is well-versed in the techniques insurance companies use to limit your payouts. Working with a NJ personal injury lawyer like Richard Hollawell and his team can increase the amount you receive.
WHEN SHOULD YOU HIRE AN ATTORNEY FOR A CAR ACCIDENT?
There is no way to know exactly when you should hire an attorney to address a car accident issue. If you have a problem, we recommend contacting an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible to ensure that an expert assesses those problems as soon as possible.
However, if you’re unsure if you need a personal injury lawyer and are wondering when the right time to look into hiring one may be, the best time to contact an attorney is once the claims process becomes uncomfortable for you. By this point, you probably don’t want to handle it alone.
SHOULD I GET AN ATTORNEY FOR AUTO ACCIDENT?
Whether or not you should get an attorney for a car accident depends on several factors, including the accident’s severity, the extent of your injuries, and the amount of your financial losses.
Here are some general guidelines to help you decide whether or not to get an attorney:
- You should always consult with an attorney if you are injured in a car accident. Even if your injuries seem minor, they could have long-term consequences. An attorney can help you understand your legal rights and options, and they can negotiate with the insurance company to get you the compensation you deserve.
- If the other driver was at fault for the accident, you should strongly consider getting an attorney. The insurance company for the at-fault driver is likely to offer you a settlement that is less than what you are entitled to. An attorney can help you get the full compensation you deserve for your medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other damages.
- You should get an attorney if the accident is serious, resulting in significant injuries and damages. An attorney can help you navigate the complex legal process and ensure that you get the medical care and financial compensation you need.
Even if you are unsure whether you need an attorney, it is always a good idea to get a consultation. An attorney can assess your case and give you an honest opinion about whether or not you would benefit from legal representation.
WHAT HAPPENS IF SOMEONE SUES ME FOR A CAR ACCIDENT?
In general, if you’re found to be at fault in a car accident, you can file a claim to your insurance provider to defend you as long as you had insurance coverage when the crash occurred. In this case, they can help prevent a judgment against you. You should contact your adjuster to find out what they’re doing to represent your interests.
However, if you did not have insurance coverage at the time of the crash, you’ll likely need an attorney.
HOW DO YOU WIN A CAR ACCIDENT LAWSUIT?
You cannot take concrete steps to guarantee that you win your case. However, there are steps you can take to be proactive following a crash that will give you the best shot at winning.
These steps include the following:
- Get medical help immediately: If possible, you should seek medical care right after a crash, even if you don’t think you suffered an injury. Do this for two reasons. One, it could improve your health outcomes because some common injuries from a car accident, like internal bleeding, can have delayed onset and be difficult to diagnose. Two, it creates a paper trail tying any potential injuries you may have to treat in the future and the time of the accident.
- Limit communication: After you hire a lawyer, let them represent you. Don’t speak to outside parties regarding the crash without your lawyer, and refrain from commenting on anything possibly related to the collision or your injuries on social media because what you post there could be used against you and weaken your case.
- Keep documents: You want to keep as many records as possible related to your case. That means hospital bills, car repair receipts, medicine costs, and records of time away from work. A journal could help as well. You never know what could come up that may become an important part of your case down the road.
- Negotiate smartly: Sometimes, after a painful accident, it’s common for people’s emotions to get involved. However, it’s important not to allow those emotions to add to your pain.
Everyone wants the compensation they think they deserve. Still, when it comes time to settle, your lawyer can give you a good idea of what a jury would likely say about your case and what a good deal would be.
WHAT SHOULD I DO IF I THINK I HAVE A CAR ACCIDENT CASE?
If you or a loved one were involved in a car accident, time is of the essence, and evidence from the accident needs to be preserved. Pursuing legal action against another driver or pursuing compensation from an insurance company can be tedious, and you need an expert motor vehicle lawyer on your side.
Contact the skilled New Jersey car accident lawyers at Richard Hollawell today at 1-800-681-3550, or fill out our contact form, and we will begin working for you immediately.