After a car accident, many New Jersey residents wonder whose insurance they should call. If you believe the accident wasn’t your fault, should you call the other driver’s insurance company? New Jersey’s no-fault car insurance laws make for a unique situation in the state.
Whose Insurance Should You Call After an Accident in New Jersey?
You should call your own insurance company first, regardless of who you believe is at-fault for the accident. You may have to file two claims – one with your insurance company and another with the other driver's insurance. Because New Jersey is a no-fault car insurance state, you must first file a claim with your own insurance.
How New Jersey’s No-Fault Insurance Laws Affect Your Claim
New Jersey, like New York and a handful of other states, have no-fault car insurance laws. These laws dictate that your own Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance is the first, primary insurer in the event of any accident. Even if you weren’t driving or were a pedestrian hit by a car, your own PIP insurance first applies.
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. These coverage amounts are intended to pay for your medical expenses and optionally lost wages if you are injured in an auto accident.
PIP insurance does not cover property damage, aka damage to your car and its contents, and it does not cover intangible losses if you are injured – such as pain and suffering or mental anguish.
When to File a Claim with the Other Driver’s Insurance
There may be multiple reasons you can still file a claim with the other driver’s insurance. For instance, if your own PIP insurance does not cover the full cost of your medical expenses and the other driver is at-fault, you may be able to file a claim against their insurance policy.
If your own car insurance has a “limitation on lawsuit” policy in New Jersey, you can only file a claim outside of the no-fault system if you have one or more specific injuries. Those injuries deemed to be serious injuries include:
- Loss of limbs or dismemberment
- Significant Disfigurement or Scarring
- Broken bones or fractures
- Loss of an unborn child
- Permanent Injury to a body part that will never heal
If you selected “no limitation on lawsuit”, the above list of injuries does not apply and you are free to pursue a claim against the at-fault driver regardless of a specific injury.
It can be difficult to navigate New Jersey’s car insurance laws and then determine if you have a valid claim against the at-fault driver without the help of an attorney. It may be possible that a third party bears some liability in the accident. For instance, if faulty brakes caused a vehicle to not be able to stop adequately, the defective car part manufacturer could be held liable.
Get Help After a New Jersey Car Accident
Even though New Jersey is a no-fault state and your own insurance will cover your losses after an accident, that doesn’t mean the process is straight-forward. Insurance companies may still devalue or deny your claim. If you have questions about your insurance coverage after an accident, contact the New Jersey car accident attorneys at Brandon J. Broderick, Attorney at Law.
When you hire our attorneys, 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 us 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.