Whose Car Insurance Policy Should New Jersey Crash Victims File a Claim with?
One of the first questions accident victims have after a crash is whether to file a claim with their own auto insurance policy or the insurance policy of the driver who caused the collision.
New Jersey’s laws are unique in that you may have to file a claim with both insurers. Below, we discuss why you need to file a claim with your own insurance first and when you may be able to file a third-party claim.
If you have any questions about this process, you should call our car crash lawyers in New Jersey as soon as possible. The consultation is free and there are no upfront fees.
WHY AM I OBLIGATED TO FILE A CLAIM WITH MY OWN INSURANCE COMPANY?
New Jersey is a no-fault state, which means that all drivers are required to carry a Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance policy to cover any injuries they suffered in an accident. This is no-fault coverage, which means you can use it even if you are at fault for the crash.
PIP insurance only covers the economic damages from your injuries, such as medical bills and lost wages, up to the policy limit you have chosen. The minimum coverage amount for PIP in New Jersey is $15,000, but you can purchase up to $250,000 in coverage.
PIP insurance does not cover are non-economic damages such as pain and suffering, and property damage.
WHEN CAN I FILE A CLAIM WITH THE AT-FAULT DRIVER’S INSURANCE?
Because PIP does not cover certain damages, but you still need them paid for if you did not cause the crash, you may need to file a third-party claim with the at-fault driver’s liability insurance. There are multiple scenarios when you may be able to do this.
As PIP does not cover the cost of repairing your vehicle, you may be able to file a claim with the at-fault driver’s property damage coverage. Just as every driver in new Jersey is required to carry PIP insurance, they are also required to carry property damage liability insurance. When you file a claim for property damage you may be able to get all or some of the following covered:
- Vehicle repair costs
- Vehicle replacement costs
- Rental vehicle costs
- Replacement/repair costs of other damaged property
You may also be able to file a third-party claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance if your economic damages exceed the amount of PIP coverage you have. For example, if you have a $15,000 PIP limit but your medical bills are $20,000, then the bodily injury liability insurance of the at-fault driver may pay the difference. It is important to note that not every driver has bodily injury liability insurance, but most do.
You may be able to file a lawsuit against the at-fault party to recover additional compensation. However, the type of insurance policy you purchased affects your ability to file a lawsuit. Some policies only allow injury victims to file a claim for bodily injury if they suffered one of the following:
- Loss of a body part
- Permanent injury
- Traumatic brain damage
- Spinal cord injury
- Disfigurement or scarring
- Displaced fracture
- Loss of a fetus
SHOULD I CALL AN ATTORNEY BEFORE FILING A CLAIM?
Before you speak to either your own insurance company or the liable party’s, you should consider calling an experienced attorney.
Insurance companies look for any reason to deny or devalue claims and often ask for recorded statements from injury victims so they can use things you say to them against you. With help from one of our knowledgeable attorneys, you may be able to avoid saying the wrong thing to inadvertently hurt your claim.
Once the insurance company knows you have an attorney helping you file a claim, they are likely to act in a fairer manner.
CALL US TODAY TO SCHEDULE A FREE CONSULTATION
If you were injured in an accident and need to file an injury claim, but do not know where to start, call our knowledgeable attorneys at the Lynch Law Firm, PC today. We are prepared to help you through the legal process from start to finish to help maximize your compensation for medical bills, lost wages and other damages.
The consultation is free, and we do not charge you anything up front. We also do not get paid unless we successfully recover compensation on your behalf. We have fought hard to protect our clients’ rights for decades. Let us do the same for you.
Call (800) 518-0508 to schedule a free consultation.