If you've been involved in an auto accident in New Jersey, you're likely looking at a complex process to get compensated for your injuries and property damage. New Jersey and New York are both no-fault insurance states which means that your own auto insurance is the primary insurer for your claims after a car accident, regardless of who was at-fault in the incident. However, it may still be possible to file a claim against the at-fault driver’s policy or another entity that may bear liability for the accident.
Basic vs Standard Car Insurance Policies in New Jersey
In order to understand what you can claim after a car accident in New Jersey, it’s helpful to understand the differences between the basic and standard policies available. A basic policy is the lowest amount of insurance coverage available, by law. While basic policies are the least expensive options, they have very limited coverage. As the State of New Jersey’s Department of Banking and Insurance notes, “The Basic Policy should be considered by those with few family responsibilities and few real assets. It can provide a transition for younger drivers who are just beginning work, providing a basic, minimum protection when they may be least able to afford more comprehensive coverage.”
What you can claim, how much and what complexities are involved highly depends on the type of auto insurance you carry as well as the auto insurance policy of the other driver.
Property Damage Claims
When a driver hits someone’s vehicle or other people’s property otherwise suffers damage from the accident, you can file a claim for property damage. If your vehicle is damaged in an accident you cause, collision coverage applies to damage to your vehicle as the result of that collision with another car or object. Keep in mind that collision coverage is an option for both basic and standard policies.
If the accident was caused by the other driver, property damage liability ranges from $5,000 - $100,000 or more on standard policies but caps at $5000 for basic policies. In order to file a claim for property damage, the other driver must be at fault and you must be able to prove liability.
Personal Injuries Claims
When a driver or the passengers suffer injuries from an accident and obtain medical treatment, the costs could be covered by personal injury protection (PIP), up to policy limits, and/or bodily injury liability. The minimum amount of personal injury protection insurance a driver must purchase in New Jersey is $15,000 -- regardless of whether or not they choose the Basic or Standard policy. Drivers can opt for coverage amounts as high as $250,000 with a Standard policy. Keep in mind, these coverage amounts are intended to pay for your medical expenses and optionally lost wages if you are injured in an auto accident. Even for relatively minor injuries, $15,000 may barely put a dent in the medical expenses.
If the other driver caused the car accident and that person has bodily injury liability coverage, you can file a claim against the driver’s policy. These types of policies have two limits. The first is a maximum amount available for the costs of injuries to an individual. The other policy limit applies to total costs for an accident no matter how many people were injured or their total combined costs.
What Medical Costs are Covered in a Car Accident Claim?
Policies can vary but generally most medical costs would be covered in a claim, so long as they are deemed medically necessary. In some cases, your PIP coverage may have a deductible or your health insurance policies come into play, those may have deductibles or copays as well. Putting aside those exceptions medical expenses that are covered in a car accident claim include:
- Ambulance service
- ER care
- Surgeries and hospitalization
- Rehabilitation services
- Medical devices and the cost of retro-fitting a home or car
In addition to medical expenses, you may be able to claim lost wages from your time away from work as well as intangible losses like pain and suffering or the loss of enjoyment of life.
Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Claims
In New Jersey, uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage is optionally available under a standard policy. When another motorist causes an accident and does not have insurance or enough insurance coverage to pay for all costs for the accident victims, the underinsured motorist coverage will pay claims up to policy limits. Those claims could be medical costs, property damage costs, or a combination of both.
What Should You Do If You Were Injured in a Car Accident?
Especially in cases of serious injury, you should contact a personal injury lawyer who specializes in car accident cases. An experienced car accident attorney can build a case and advocate for fair compensation for your losses. Even if you’re only dealing with our own PIP coverage, an insurance company may be pressuring you to settle quickly or denying or devaluing your claim. A lawyer will negotiate with insurance companies and can often secure higher compensation amounts than going it alone.
Brandon J. Broderick, New Jersey Car Accident Lawyers
Working with a lawyer with extensive experience in car accidents can make all the difference in the outcome of your case. Why risk being unfairly compensated and not having recourse to fix it? When you hire a car accident lawyer from Brandon J. Broderick, you are assured a passionate team fighting for your best interest and putting your needs first. We work on contingent fees that are only collected if we win your case. If we don’t win, you don’t pay.
Contact Brandon J. Broderick, Attorney at Law, for a free consultation. With our proven track record of success with car accident settlements and our commitment to client care, we can turn your setback into a comeback.