When you are injured in a car accident in New Jersey, there are several steps you need to take to assert your legal rights. One of these steps is determining how much you are entitled to recover. Whether you have an auto insurance claim, a “third party” claim or both, it is up to you to calculate your losses and make sure you receive the full compensation you deserve.
How Much Can You Recover After a Car Accident in New Jersey?
So, how much can you recover? The answer to this question depends on numerous factors—all of which are unique to you and your accident. As a result, there is no “magic number” that you can put forward to secure a settlement, and the only way to calculate your losses is to carefully and critically assess the long-term effects of your accident-related injuries.
With this in mind, here are five important factors that will have a direct impact on the amount you can recover for your car accident injuries in New Jersey:
Factor #1: The Financial Costs of Your Injuries
The first factor that requires consideration is how much your injuries are going to cost you. This includes not only your costs in the short term but in the years – and potentially decades – to come as well. The types of financial costs that can be recovered in New Jersey car accident claims include:
- Medical Bills and Other Treatment and Recovery-Related Expenses – Under New Jersey law, if someone else was at fault in your car accident, you can seek compensation for all of the current and future out-of-pocket costs of your injuries. In addition to medical bills, this includes costs such as filling prescriptions, purchasing medical supplies and assistive devices, and seeking physical and psychological therapy.
- Other Out-of-Pocket Costs – As a car accident victim in New Jersey, not only can you recover compensation for the expenses you incur (and will incur in the future) in relation to your medical needs, but you can recover compensation for your other out-of-pocket costs as well. Some common examples of recoverable costs in New Jersey car accident claims include transportation costs, home modifications, and hiring housekeepers and other service providers.
- Loss of Income and Loss of Future Earning Capacity – If you are unable to work as a result of your car accident injuries, then you can seek just compensation for your loss of income as well. This includes all forms of income (i.e., wages, salary, commissions and tips) and benefits (i.e., paid time off, health insurance and retirement contributions). If you are unable to work in the future, you can also seek compensation for your loss of future earning capacity.
Factor #2: The Non-Financial Costs of Your Injuries
The second factor you need to consider is how your injuries will impact your life beyond these direct financial costs. New Jersey law allows for the recovery of various non-financial losses in car accident cases as well. This includes losses such as:
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional trauma
- Post-traumatic stress
- Loss of companionship and consortium
- Loss of services and support
- Loss of enjoyment of life
Unlike the financial costs of car accident injuries, there is no way to place an exact dollar amount on your non-financial losses. Instead, non-financial losses are calculated either based on: (i) a multiple or your financial losses, or (ii) a daily (or “per diem”) rate that is determined by the severity of your injuries. An experienced New Jersey personal injury lawyer can determine which option makes the most sense in your case, and your lawyer can fight to secure maximum compensation on your behalf.
Factor #3: Who was At Fault in Your Accident
The third factor that will influence the amount you can recover is who was at fault in your car accident. If the other driver (or a third party) was 100 percent at fault in your accident, then you are entitled to recover 100 percent of your losses. However, if you were up to 50 percent at fault, then your financial recovery will be reduced in proportion to your percentage of fault.
If you were 51 percent or more at fault, then you are not entitled to any compensation under New Jersey law. As a result, even one percent can make a huge difference, and you will need to work with an experienced New Jersey personal injury lawyer to make sure that you are not unjustly denied compensation for your financial and non-financial losses.
Factor #4: How Much Auto Insurance Coverage is Available
The fourth factor that requires consideration is how much auto insurance coverage is available. If your losses exceed the available insurance coverage (which may include coverage under both your and the at-fault driver’s insurance policy), it is possible that the coverage limits will effectively cap the amount you can recover. However, this is not always the case, and you will want to consult with an attorney to determine if you have other options available.
Factor #5: Whether You Have a “Third Party” Claim
The final factor to consider is whether you have a “third party” claim. This is a claim against a party other than the driver who hit you. Common third-party claims include those against:
- The at-fault driver’s employer (if he or she was working at the time of the accident)
- A vehicle manufacturer or dealership
- A repair or maintenance shop
- A state and local road authority
If you have a third-party claim, you can seek compensation above and beyond the available auto insurance coverage. If your losses are substantial, this could prove essential to securing the full compensation you deserve under New Jersey law.
Schedule a Free Consultation with a New Jersey Personal Injury Lawyer Today
Have you been seriously injured in a car accident in New Jersey? If so, we encourage you to contact a New Jersey personal injury lawyer promptly for a free consultation. To find out how much you may be able to recover, call us at 877-435-6371 or tell us about your accident online today.