The New Jersey statute of limitations allows a person injured in a car accident to file a lawsuit within two years of the accident. In exceptional cases, there may be a reason to extend that deadline, but most injured parties lose their right to claim injury after two years. However, that is the legal answer. The practical answer is much different.
In practice, if you are injured in a car accident, you should make a claim as soon as possible. This is because you must be able to prove that the accident was the cause of your injury. The longer you delay in making a claim, the easier it becomes for a defendant to deny responsibility for your injury. A judge or jury might also suspect that there was an intervening cause for your injury and you are simply blaming the car accident so you can collect.
The best way to remove suspicion about an intervening cause is to seek medical attention immediately after your accident. Injured parties often delay going to a hospital, thinking they’re “just a little shaken up,” when they actually have serious latent injuries. Adrenaline can mask the pain of injuries that you will feel hours later. But even a gap of a few hours is enough for a defendant to claim you’re hiding an intervening cause for your injuries. That accusation becomes more plausible with every day you delay seeking treatment.
We understand why injured parties hesitate to go to the hospital. These days, many people are dealing with high-deductible health insurance policies, so they could wind up paying out of pocket for ambulance and emergency room services. But when you see a medical professional immediately to document the harm you suffered, there’s a much greater chance that you can make a successful claim that will reimburse your medical expenses and also compensate your pain and suffering.
Many accident victims sustain latent injuries, such as a slipped disk, that manifests later and keeps getting worse over time. Only later do they connect their pain with the accident. This type of claim can still be viable, especially if your doctor agrees that an auto accident is likely to cause such an injury and you do not have a prior history of injury in that precise area.
For answers to your questions about auto accident injuries, call Seigel Law at 201.444.4000 or contact us online. We offer free consultations to injured clients in Bergen County and throughout New Jersey.