Recovering your losses after a debilitating injury can be such a confusing process, it can compound the suffering from your physical and emotional distress. Not only are you working through medical issues and pain, but now you have to navigate the process of how to recoup your losses.
In the state of New Jersey, there are further laws and restrictions that govern how and when you can file your injury claim in order to get your life back. From timing the claim filing process to limiting who can be blamed, to capping the amount of money you can expect to be paid, New Jersey’s personal injury laws can be daunting to decipher.
New Jersey Statute of Limitations
Each state government enforces a statute of limitations that means you must file your personal injury claim within a certain time period or else all claims are null and void.
In New Jersey, the statute of limitations on personal injury claims is two years. That means that you only have two years from the date of your injury to gather all necessary information together in order to file your claim.
While this may seem like a long time, it is important to note that no extensions may be given, which could hinder your chances at compensation. Recovery time does not factor into this statute of limitations, either. You must file every required document, including proof of all expenses in less than two years from the date of your injury, not the date of your medical care.
If you fail to meet this deadline for filing your claim, you could lose out on all reimbursement of medical care costs, loss of property and even loss of future wages.
Shared Fault, No Fault, and Comparative Negligence in New Jersey
Besides limiting your time frame to file your claim, the state of New Jersey also has very specific regulations on sharing blame and fault in accidents.
For car accidents only, New Jersey is a no-fault state. This means that any injuries from a car accident can only be filed against your insurance company if they are deemed less than “severe injuries.” This no-fault car accident rule also means that your general damages multiplier can be lower because pain and suffering claims are limited.
For injury cases other than car accidents, New Jersey followed shared fault rules. This means that both parties will assert that the other side has some shared blame for the accident. In settlement cases, the lawyers and insurance companies will determine the percentages for the blame, which then reflects on the amount of compensation that can be claimed. For court cases, the judge and jury weigh in on the allocation of blame.
This resulting percentage amount is referred to as comparative negligence. If one party is deemed 80% responsible for the accident, and you are assigned the other 20% of the blame, then your resulting compensation can be no more than 80% of the total costs incurred.
For example, if you suffered a slip and fall accident that was assigned an 80% – 20% shared fault. The property owner was assigned 80% of the blame for not keeping the walkway clear. But you are assigned 20% of the blame for distracted walking while reading your smart phone.
When it comes time to file your claim for reimbursement of your medical bills, your loss of wages, loss of personal property, and rehabilitation, you can only claim 80% of those totals. If your expenses totaled $10,000, you would only be entitled to receive $8,000 because of New Jersey’s comparative negligence and shared fault laws.
$10,000 x 80% shared fault = $8,000 maximum compensation
New Jersey Caps Personal Injury Damages
In addition to time and fault limitations, New Jersey also has a cap on the total dollar amount you can claim for punitive damages in personal injury cases.
The punitive damages refer to the amount you may receive based solely on the fault of another party. This is the price of their blame, over and above any and all expenses you could receive.
New Jersey limits the punitive damages to either a maximum $350,000 or five times your compensated damages, whichever amount is greater.
Using the above example:
$8,000 max compensation x 5 (max damages cap) = $40,000 max punitive damages
Seek Counsel to Navigate New Jersey’s Strict Personal Injury Laws
Because of all of these limitations and restrictions set by the state of New Jersey, it is important to hire an experienced New Jersey personal injury attorney to help you through the process. Know your rights, but get the help you deserve.