When Does New Jersey Allow Me to File a Car Accident Lawsuit?

Posted on behalf of James Lynch on February 21, 2019  in Car Accident News. Updated on November 15, 2023

online car insurance shoppingIf you want compensation for pain and suffering from a car accident, you must file a lawsuit – your car insurance policy will not provide compensation for these damages. However, New Jersey places certain limitations on your right to file a lawsuit after a car accident. You should learn about these limitations because they can influence your decision-making when you shop for insurance.

Our New Jersey car accident lawyers help victims fight for compensation for medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering and more. Request a free, no obligation consultation today to learn what legal options are available after an auto accident caused by negligence.

Unlimited vs. Limited Right to Sue

Under New Jersey law, motorists have the option to purchase two types of automobile insurance policies: standard and basic.

Standard Policies

Standard automobile insurance coverage policies in New Jersey are much like the types of auto insurance policies available in other states. These are the minimum coverage requirements in New Jersey:

  • Bodily injury liability – $15,000 limit per person; $30,000 limit per accident
  • Property damage – $5,000 limit per accident
  • Personal injury protection – $15,000 per person, per accident

You can also purchase the following coverages in both a standard and basic policy:

  • Uninsured/underinsured motorist – This pays for property damage or bodily injury in a crash with an uninsured driver, or one who does not have enough coverage to pay for your damages.
  • Collision and comprehensive – This pays for damage to your vehicle caused by a crash with another vehicle or object.

A standard policy gives the holder a choice between an unlimited right to sue or a limited right to sue in the event of an accident.

With the unlimited right to sue, you have no limitation on filing a lawsuit to pursue compensation for pain and suffering. With the limited right to sue, you cannot file a lawsuit for pain and suffering unless you suffer one of the following injuries:

  • Significant scarring or disfigurement
  • Loss of body part
  • Displaced fracture
  • Loss of fetus
  • Permanent injury, which occurs when a body part or organ will not heal and function normally with more medical treatment
  • Death

Basic Policies

Basic policies require the same minimums for property damage and personal injury protection ($5,000 per accident and $15,000 per person, per accident for personal injury protection). However, you are not required to purchase bodily injury liability. If you do purchase it, you are limited to $10,000 in coverage.

Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage is not included and not usually available to add. Some insurance companies give you the option to purchase comprehensive and collision coverage in your basic policy, some do not.

Under a basic policy, the policyholder only has a limited right to sue. This means you cannot sue for pain and suffering unless you suffered one of the injuries listed above.

Why Do People Purchase Basic Policies?

Basic policies cost less in insurance premiums than standard policies, making them an attractive option for some. Generally, those who purchase basic policies have few familial responsibilities or assets. Younger drivers often select these policies due to affordability.

The trade-off for the affordability of a basic policy is the lack of protections. The coverage on a basic policy is much more limited, and holders do not have an unlimited right to sue.

With a basic policy that has no liability coverage, the policyholder is responsible for noneconomic damages caused by the accident, as well as some economic damages. Assets are at risk and a portion of the policyholder’s wages may be deducted each pay period if an accident judgement is entered against him or her.

What is the Deadline for Filing a Lawsuit?

In New Jersey, injured victims have a time limit of two years from the date the injury happens to file a lawsuit for damages. This is known as the statute of limitations.

New Jersey follows a choice no-fault system for car accident claims. If you buy a basic car insurance policy, any personal injury claim resulting from a car accident must be made against your own policy using the policy’s personal injury protection coverage.

It does not matter which partly was responsible for the accident – all claims are filed against your insurance. Personal injury protection claims do not include compensation for pain and suffering or other noneconomic damages.

Contact Our Qualified Lawyers for Help

If you were injured in an accident in the state of New Jersey, you can work with our skilled legal team. Our car accident lawyers evaluate your claim and inform you of the legal options that may be available for pursuing compensation in a free consultation.

We represent car accident victims on contingency – which means you pay us nothing unless we successfully obtain compensation.

Call our attorneys at (800) 518-0508 .

* Results may vary depending on your particular facts and legal circumstances.

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