Because of the way insurance works in New Jersey, the best time to think about whether you want to sue is before you have your accident. Decades ago, in an effort to simplify claims, New Jersey adopted no-fault auto insurance. Under the no-fault plan, policyholders purchase person injury protection (PIP) and file claims with their own insurer, without having to prove someone else is liable for the accident. Only after they reach the limits of their PIP coverage do injured parties have to seek compensation from another driver’s liability insurance.
While no-fault law cut down on negligence lawsuits, it also tended to create adversarial relationships between policyholders and their own insurers, who were often just as slow to pay claims for their own customers as they had been for third parties. But no-fault law also shortchanges injured parties when it comes to recovery for pain and suffering.
When you purchase a New Jersey auto insurance policy, you have two options: unlimited right to sue and limited right to sue. Neither affects your right to recover for your economic losses, such as medical bills or lost income, but they greatly affect your right to claim pain and suffering and other noneconomic losses, such as loss of quality of life, loss of enjoyment of life, and loss of consortium.
With the unlimited right to sue, you can file a claim for pain and suffering for any physical injury you sustain. With limited right to sue, you get the immediate benefit of lower premiums, but if you get into an auto accident, you cannot recover for pain and suffering unless your injury is “permanent” within the meaning of the law. Thus, you can only sue for pain and suffering if your injury involves:
This law was enacted to encourage quick settlements of insurance claims and to keep minor injuries from being litigated in court. However, it ignores the reality we see in our practice: injuries that do not qualify as permanent can still require a long convalescence and inflict significant pain. The law also has the unintended consequence of discriminating against the poor, who are often compelled to surrender their right to sue in exchange for affordable car insurance.
At Seigel Law, we strongly recommend retaining your full rights to your day in court, but we realize that each driver must make decisions based on their own economic circumstances.
Seigel Law represents victims of auto accidents in Bergen County and throughout New Jersey. Contact us online or call 201.444.4000 today for a free consultation and case evaluation.
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By Teresa R Perez - January, 2018
I have had a great experience thus far. The personal injury process is stressful and they have been helpful and courteous in getting me the right referrals. I was injured while visiting NJ and live in another state, my case is not an easy one but they are working diligently to help. I appreciate the personalized attention and highly recommend this firm.Read More
By Miriam Smith-Leone - December, 2017
The law office was great with my back and neck injury. They directed me to the right doctors and got me a huge settlement. Being a single mom, it help pay off all my debt and bills. Me and my kids can have a bill free christmas, with plenty of food and happiness, stress free. They are the best ever and I would highly recommend them to anyone rich or poor, who has been in an accident and need legal help...Read More
By L C - October, 2017
After the misfortune of suffering an injury, I had the good fortune to choose Seigel Law to represent me. During my initial meeting with Jan Seigel, I found him to be extremely confident and reassuring---he totally put me at ease. I was represented by Mark Mc Bratney---an EXCELLENT attorney. He was supportive and professional through the entire process, and provided an excellent outcome for my case.Read More
By Liliana Paredes - October, 2017
Honest, trustworthy and very straight forward. In unvarnished truth Jonas Siegel will tell you exactly where you stand and what direction you should go. Jonas has tenacity coupled with a degree of tenderness, but never losing site of the end goal, which is to protect, defend and have the best outcome for his clients. I defenetly recoment this law firm. Thanks for helping me out in my case.Read More
By Oren Goldshmidt - September, 2017
I'd like to thank everyone at segal law for the amazing experience they provided me. From the moment I stepped in to the end of the case , segal and his team delivered exactly what they promised. I couldn't have received any better treatment from a law firm. Any concerns, questions or problems I had were addressed and dealt with accordingly...Read More
"The lawyers at Seigel Law know how to get you the results you want. Jan Seigel and His team returned every one of my phone calls, listened to me and worked with me to a desirable outcome. Seigel Law definitely goes above and beyond to protect the injured." - B.M.
"After my car accident, my life turned into a disaster. Dealing with everything became impossible. Jan Seigel and his people helped me with every aspect of my injuries and the insurance companies so I could focus on healing. They helped me through everything and they got me what I was due." - M.P.
"I found the personnel to be very efficient, and work very quickly. I'm happy that I was referred to this firm, because I found that I was very comfortable working with them." - F.V.
"Amazing. I have to say they were very supportive and were able to give me tons of information. I didn't feel rushed and felt they truly cared about my well-being. Their website is also extremely helpful and well setup." - T.D.