Car accident claims do not necessarily result in a settlement. Car accident settlements often depend on your injuries, property damages and other losses as well as liability for the accident. Even though a settlement isn’t guaranteed, that should not stop you from pursuing a claim and seeking compensation.
What to Know About Filing a Claim
Before you can receive a settlement after a car accident, you must first file a claim. In no-fault states like New Jersey and New York, your own mandated personal injury protection (PIP) policy will be the first or primary insurer, regardless of fault in the accident. If your PIP policy does not cover all of your losses, you may also be able to file a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurer.
If you’ve been in a car accident, it's critical to call police to the scene or file a self-reported accident report with the police if they do not come to the scene. In New Jersey, you must file a report for any accident resulting in more than $500 in damage, which is a very minimal amount.
After the accident, you can also start the process of filing a claim with your insurance provider. However, you should not give a recorded statement to the insurance company until speaking with a car accident attorney. Even if you believe your own PIP insurance will cover the costs of your losses, it’s in your best interest to review your case and your rights with an experienced lawyer.
Liability in Car Accident Claims
Proving another driver or third party is liable for the car accident is essential to your claim, if you intend to file against another party’s insurer. Most often, the legal concept of negligence is used to prove another party’s liability. Negligent driving encompasses a wide range of behaviors (or lack thereof) including:
- Failure to yield the right of way
- Distracted driving
- Drugged or drunk driving
- Driver fatigue
It may be possible to file a claim against a third party, often a manufacturer of vehicle parts, the business owner of a commercial vehicle or a ride-sharing company. An experienced car accident lawyer can advise you if a third party could bear some or all of the liability for losses related to the auto accident.
The amount of a car accident settlement depends on several factors, including the severity of your injury and the evidence available providing liability. Many claims seek compensation for the costs of medical expenses, lost income and intangible losses like pain and suffering.
In the aftermath of a car accident, it's common for the insurance company to offer an early settlement amount. While it may be tempting to take the offer, accepting the first offer without a full medical diagnosis is not a good idea. If you settle too quickly or before you have a full medical prognosis, you won’t know the full value of your claim since you won’t know what expenses you face in the future. Once you understand your condition, the expected length of your recovery time, the treatments you might need, and your long-term outlook, you’ll have a better idea of what the full extent of your losses will be.
No matter what an insurance adjuster may say, you have a right to reject a settlement offer from the insurance company. Accepting an offer will require you to give you important rights, including the ability to file a lawsuit for your injuries. That is why it is so important to understand the full value of your claim and to know that you can and should reject any offer that doesn’t fairly compensate you for your losses.
Time Limits for Filing a Car Insurance Claim in New Jersey
The time limit for filing a personal injury lawsuit for a car crash in New Jersey is 2 years from the date of the crash. After this time frame, it’s extraordinarily difficult to file a claim and your case will likely be dismissed. It’s extremely important to start the process as soon as possible after an injury, since filing after the time limit may forever bar your claim.
Get Help with Your Car Accident Settlement
If you have been the victim of a motor vehicle accident, you deserve to fully recover for any physical, emotional, and mental injuries you suffered and l have a right to compensation for your injuries. At Brandon J. Broderick, our car accident lawyers have decades of experience building evidence to prove liability, negotiating with insurance companies and winning maximum compensation for our client.
With our proven track record of success and our commitment to client care, the attorneys of Brandon J. Broderick can get you the settlement and justice you deserve. Contact us today for a free consultation.