What is New Jersey’s “Serious Injury” Threshold for Personal Injury Cases?
After a car accident, you may wish to sue a negligent driver for compensation. Often in New Jersey, victims can only file a lawsuit if their injuries meet the state’s serious injury threshold for personal injury cases.
In most cases in New Jersey, car accident victims can only file a lawsuit against a negligent driver if their injuries meet the serious injury threshold. Otherwise, victims may have to turn to their personal injury protection (PIP) insurance to recover compensation. Serious car accident injuries include death, dismemberment, displaced fractures, and loss of a fetus, among others. This threshold applies to most drivers and passengers in New Jersey covered by PIP, excluding motorcyclists. If you are eligible to sue after a car accident, our attorneys can help you can recover economic and non-economic damages in New Jersey.
We’re dedicated to helping car accident victims in New Jersey hold negligent drivers accountable. For a free case evaluation with the New Jersey car accident lawyers at The Carrion Law Firm, call today at (718) 841-0083.
What is the Purpose of the Serious Injury Threshold for Personal Injury Cases in New Jersey?
New Jersey is a no-fault state for car accidents and most other vehicle accidents. This means that, in many cases, victims’ primary recovery method after a crash is to file a claim with their personal injury protection insurance, not a lawsuit. In order to bring a compensation claim against a negligent driver, victims may have to meet the serious injury threshold.
The purpose of New Jersey’s no-fault insurance laws and its serious injury threshold for personal injury cases is to avoid litigation in cases where insurance can more easily cover the cost of a victim’s injuries. Essentially, after a car accident resulting in more minor injuries, victims may have to turn to their personal injury protection insurance for compensation, regardless of who is at fault for a collision, unless they have purchased an unlimited right to sue option for their PIP. Victims can file a claim with their insurance carrier and recover compensation. Pursuing a lawsuit is generally allowed when victims sustain a serious injury, according to N.J.S.A. § 39:6A-8(a).
While New Jersey’s serious injury threshold for personal injury cases limits lawsuits in the state, it can also create confusion for victims who are unsure whether or not they are permitted to sue a negligent driver. Our Newark car accident attorneys can explain how the serious injury threshold and the state’s no-fault laws might factor into your case so that you can move forward in your recovery.
New Jersey’s Definition of a Serious Injury for Personal Injury Cases
Understanding New Jersey’s definition of a serious injury is important for car accident victims to learn if they have a valid claim against a negligent driver. Our attorneys can explain the injuries permitted under the serious injury threshold and how your injuries compare to these definitions.
Because of the state’s no-fault insurance laws, only certain injuries are considered serious enough to warrant litigation after a car accident in New Jersey. According to N.J.S.A. § 39:6A-8(a), the following injuries meet the serious injury threshold in New Jersey:
- Significant disfigurement or significant scarring
- Displaced fractures
- Loss of a fetus
In addition to the injuries mentioned above, any injury deemed permanent by a physician may be considered a serious injury in New Jersey. An injury generally meets the definition of permanent when it cannot be healed without medical intervention.
While some of the injuries included in New Jersey’s definition of a serious injury are clearly severe, such as death, dismemberment, and loss of a fetus, others are broader. Because of that, some victims may be unsure whether or not their injuries are serious enough, according to New Jersey’s standards, to warrant litigation. Reach out to our attorneys to take advantage of all the options available to you after a car accident. Our lawyers can assess your medical records to determine if your injuries meet the definition of a serious injury in New Jersey.
Who Does New Jersey’s Serious Injury Threshold for Personal Injury Cases Apply To?
The serious injury threshold for personal injury cases applies to all persons covered under a personal injury protection insurance plan and injured in a car accident, apart from those who purchased an unlimited right to sue option. This includes a wide variety of victims, from pedestrians to passengers.
If you are injured in a car accident, you may have to abide by New Jersey’s serious injury threshold for personal injury cases. All drivers in New Jersey are required to purchase personal injury protection insurance. The basic coverage does not have an unlimited right to sue option, which can be purchased if you wish to avoid the state’s serious injury threshold for filing a lawsuit in case of a future car accident.
Your PIP insurance covers certain losses after a car accident. It applies to most vehicle accident situations, including if you are injured as a pedestrian, bicyclist, or passenger in New Jersey. Even negligent drivers can turn to their PIP insurance for compensation for their injuries since New Jersey is a no-fault state for car accidents. That means New Jersey’s serious injury threshold applies to most car accident victims covered by a basic PIP plan.
Are There Exceptions to the Serious Injury Threshold for Personal Injury Cases in New Jersey?
While the serious injury threshold applies to most types of vehicle accidents in New Jersey, there is one notable exception. Motorcyclists are not covered by personal injury protection insurance, meaning they never have to meet the serious injury threshold in order to sue a negligent driver for compensation.
In New Jersey, motorcycle accidents are excluded from the no-fault system. Personal injury protection insurance does not cover motorcycle accidents, meaning injured motorcyclists cannot file a claim even if they have PIP insurance as a driver in New Jersey.
Because of this, motorcyclists do not have to meet the serious injury threshold to pursue a compensation claim against a negligent driver. Since filing a lawsuit may be your only way to recover sufficient damages as a motorcycle accident victim in New Jersey, reach out to our attorneys immediately after a crash.
In addition to motorcyclists, drivers who purchase an unlimited right to sue option, also referred to as a no limitation on lawsuit option, for PIP insurance are excluded from the serious injury threshold for certain damages in New Jersey, according to N.J.S.A. § 39:6A-8(b). However, these victims can only sue for pain and suffering caused by a negligent driver in New Jersey unless they meet the serious injury threshold.
How to Prove You Sustained a Serious Injury in Your New Jersey Personal Injury Case
Proving that you sustained a serious injury and are permitted to file a lawsuit against a negligent driver in New Jersey can be difficult. To improve your chances of success and recover the compensation you deserve, turn to our New Jersey car accident lawyers for help.
Proving a serious injury in New Jersey requires considerable evidence. First, victims must prove that they have sustained injuries that meet the serious injury threshold and do so using certified medical records. Our Elizabeth car accident lawyers will encourage you to get immediate and continuous medical treatment after a collision so that there is ample evidence of the extent of your injuries and your prognosis.
To avoid liability for a victim’s serious injuries in a car accident claim in New Jersey, defendants might argue that a victim’s pre-existing conditions or another accident entirely are to blame for their damages. To prevent this from impacting your claim, our attorneys will explain the difference between pre-existing conditions and your current injuries and gather evidence that proves that a negligent driver caused your injuries in New Jersey.
Failing to compile the necessary proof of serious injuries can cause victims to lose their right to recovery via a car accident lawsuit in New Jersey. For victims of serious injuries, filing a lawsuit may be the only way to recover the necessary compensation, as the policy limits on their PIP insurance might be insufficient.
Compensation for Victims that Meet the Serious Injury Threshold in New Jersey
Call our attorneys if you sustained serious injuries in a car accident in New Jersey and meet the criteria to file a lawsuit. Our Linden car accident lawyers can help you recover considerable compensation against a negligent driver so that you can begin healing after a devastating collision.
Serious injuries, like traumatic brain injuries, loss of limb, and fractures, might result in expensive medical treatment for car accident victims in New Jersey. Severe injuries might also make a victim unable to work, resulting in detrimental lost wages. If you meet the serious injury threshold in New Jersey and file a claim against a negligent driver, you can recover total compensation for your economic losses.
Economic damages can compensate victims for financial losses related to an accident. To provide sufficient proof of damages, our New Jersey car accident lawyers will gather evidence of medical bills, lost wages, and other out-of-pocket expenses incurred because of a negligent driver’s actions. There is no limit on economic damages in New Jersey car accident lawsuits, allowing victims to recover compensation for all financial losses.
When car accident victims in New Jersey sustain serious injuries, they may experience severe emotional distress. Anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and other difficulties are common for New Jersey car accident victims. Suppose your mental well-being has been affected as a result of a driver’s negligence, and you also meet the serious injury threshold. In that case, you may recover non-economic damages in a lawsuit for compensation in New Jersey.
Non-economic damages attempt to compensate victims for the emotional difficulties they experience in the aftermath of a car accident, like pain and suffering. Providing proof of damages can be challenging, which is why our attorneys may advise you to keep a journal detailing your experiences or seek help from a therapist following a car accident in New Jersey. There is no cap on non-economic damages for car accident victims in New Jersey.
What if You Don’t Meet the Serious Injury Threshold for Personal Injury Cases in New Jersey?
Unfortunately, not all car accident victims in New Jersey meet the serious injury threshold for personal injury cases. Because of that, not all victims are permitted to sue a negligent driver for compensatory damages in a car accident claim. While that can seem discouraging at first, there are other paths to recovery, which is why victims should always reach out to our attorneys.
The serious injury threshold for personal injury cases in New Jersey limits which victims can file a lawsuit after a car accident. So, not all victims can sue after a crash that results in injury or property damage. In that case, you may be able to file a claim with your PIP insurance. Suppose your coverage is insufficient to cover the cost of your injuries. In that case, you may be able to file a claim with a negligent driver’s liability insurance or your own health insurance.
Upon learning about the serious injury threshold, victims in New Jersey might automatically think their injuries don’t qualify them to file a lawsuit. However, just because it initially appears that way, doesn’t mean it’s so. During a case evaluation with our Belleville car accident lawyers, you may learn that your injuries are severe enough to file a lawsuit, according to the state’s definition of a serious injury. So, it always benefits victims to reach out and seek a consultation, as they may be eligible to file a compensation claim against a negligent driver in New Jersey.
Call Our New Jersey Lawyers About Your Serious Injury Case Today
If you recently sustained a serious injury in a car accident in New Jersey, our attorneys can help. For a free case evaluation with the Orange, NJ car accident lawyers at The Carrion Law Firm, call today at (718) 841-0083.