If you have been in an accident or were injured in some way in New Jersey due to the careless or negligent actions of someone else, you may be able to file a personal injury claim to recover damages for your injury and losses. However, in order to do so, there are some essential steps you should take to safeguard your rights and increase your chances of receiving a fair award.
You will need to prove that you were injured, you suffered damage and that this was the result of the actions or inactions of someone who owed you a duty of care. Gather any and all evidence and documentation regarding your accident or injury. This includes the names and contact information of witnesses, insurance company agents, and involved law enforcement. Medical documentation is especially vital.
The following information is helpful when filing your claim:
- Medical records
- Medical expenses for your injuries: past, current and future
- Any existing disability or disfigurement
- Lost wages due to your injuries and treatment
- Any related property damage
- Pain and suffering you have experienced; physically and emotionally
- Additional out of pocket costs you incurred due to your injuries, such as a rental car or hiring someone to help with household chores you were unable to perform
Statute of Limitations
The statute of limitations determines how much time you have to file your personal injury claim. This is largely dependent upon the type of claim you are filing. For the majority of New Jersey PI claims alleging negligence, the timeframe is two years. Strict liability, wrongful death and defective product claims, with some exceptions, follow this two-year timeframe. However, suits for assault and battery or defamation must be filed within one year. The laws are further complicated if you were a minor when you sustained your injury or you are suing a public entity including a County, State or Municipal entity or other affiliated institution. Experienced legal counsel can explain these laws and help you file your claim in time.
Review Your “Share” of Liability
In New Jersey, a modified comparative negligence rule applies. This means you will typically not be able to recover damages if you carry more than 50% responsible for the injury for which you are suing. This assessment is made by the jury as the finder of fact, and is assessed on a case by case basis. Thus, it is important to review the facts of your case within the context of applicable law in order to prepare your case for the best possible outcome. An experienced PI lawyer can assist you with this.
Complaint and Filing Procedure
In NJ, most personal injury claims are initiated in the New Jersey Superior Court by filing a Complaint. The Complaint details the facts of your case and sets forth the legal bases for your claim. It must be accompanied with a Civil Case Information Statement, which summarizes the type case you are filing and identifies special circumstances, needs or requirements. If your papers are conforming and in order, the court will file them and assign your case a discovery track and pre-trial judge. You must then serve the people and/or companies you’ve sued with a copy of the papers filed with the court. Once served, the defendants will have 35 days to file an Answer or otherwise plead.
As you can see, filing a personal injury claim in New Jersey can be a complicated process. In addition to the general procedures outlined above, there may be other rules that apply to your case such as in certain motor vehicle actions (which may require a certification from a licensed physician attesting to the permanency of the injury) and medical and professional malpractice claims (that require an affidavit of merit from a professional having the same background and training as the individual who is being sued). Therefore, the smart move is to consult an attorney who can explain your rights and guide you through the legal process. The insurance companies and corporate concerns have lawyers handling their case, and so should you. If you are in need of legal counsel for your New Jersey personal injury claim, Contact Us today for a free consultation.