When Can You Sue Another Driver Over Injuries in a N.J. Car Accident?

If you are injured in a motor vehicle accident in New Jersey, your right to recover damages may be limited by the state’s no-fault insurance law. Because New Jersey’s law offers different coverage options, your right to sue the driver who caused the accident largely depends on the type of insurance you have chosen.

No-fault law means that after an auto accident, each driver must initially seek compensation from their own insurance company, no matter which driver was at fault. Suing another driver for damages beyond what your own policy provides is possible only if you have chosen certain types of insurance coverage. If you chose a Basic policy, you do not have a right to sue the other driver at all. Basic policyholders can only get compensation through the no-fault provisions in their policy, which include the following:

  • Personal injury protection (PIP), which pays for your medical expenses and those of your passengers. The minimum coverage is $15,000 but most drivers choose the $250,000 option for additional cost.
  • Uninsured motorist coverage, which covers you if the other driver was driving without proper insurance.

If you chose a Standard insurance policy rather than Basic, then you may have the ability to sue the other driver. Standard policies come in two types: the “lawsuit limitation” policy or the “no limitation” policy. If you have a lawsuit limitation policy, also known as a verbal threshold policy, then you have the right to sue the at-fault driver only if you suffered one of these six types of damages in the accident:

  • Death of a family member
  • Dismemberment
  • Significant disfigurement or scarring
  • Displaced fractures
  • Loss of a fetus
  • Permanent injury, where a body part will not recover to a normal level of function even with treatment

Any family members in your vehicle who were injured in the auto accident are subject to the same limitation on their right to sue.

If you have a no limitation policy, also known as a zero-threshold policy, then you can sue the other driver even if you haven’t suffered one of the six injuries listed above. In other words, your right to sue is not limited by the type or severity of your injuries. No-limitation policyholders can also recover pain and suffering damages, which are usually not available with the lawsuit limitation option.

If you’ve been injured in an auto accident in northern New Jersey, get help from an experienced lawyer at Seigel Law in Ridgewood. Call our office at 201-444-4000 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation today.

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