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Personal Injury/Negligence: Automobile and Car Accidents

NJ Injury Lawyer

People involved in car accidents in New Jersey generally should seek the advice of a personal injury attorney as soon as their medical issues are addressed. In fact, a person involved in an automobile accident with injuries should consult with an attorney immediately! Legal and financial issues are complex and relate to what happened, who is at fault, what the insurance situation is and when the accident happened. Failing to consult with a NJ injury lawyer may mean that you are not properly compensated for your injuries or the pain and suffering that you experience.

Typically, a claim for personal injuries (and property damage as well) arises when two cars collide and one driver is at fault for the accident. The claims are usually made against the at fault (negligent) driver’s liability (car insurance) carrier. If the insurance claim is not settled, a lawsuit must be filed against the driver; the insurance company will then hire a lawyer to defend its insured. If the at fault driver does not have insurance, has inadequate insurance, or if the accident is caused by a hit and run driver, then a claim is made against your own uninsured or UIM motorist coverage. If you do not have that coverage, you may never receive adequate repayment for your injuries. Please see our page on UIM coverage for more information on this subject.

Frequently, the injured person in an accident can not afford proper medical treatment for their injuries or rehabilitation. An attorney can frequently arrange for necessary medical treatment by medical  providers where the treatment is given as needed and payment is postponed to those providers until the case settles. Those medical providers get paid out of the settlement proceeds.

It is important to consult a NJ injury lawyer after you are involved in an accident because failing to file your claim within a proper time frame, also called the Statute of Limitations, may mean that you cannot file it at all. The Statute of limitations can be difficult to calculate for a lay person. Generally, personal injury claims must be brought within two (2) years of the date that the accident occurred or the claim arose.  It can vary if the injured person or at-fault party are deceased, fraud is involved, a foreign object is left in your body by a doctor or in certain other limited circumstances. Further, if a government entity caused harm, a proper written notice must be provided to the government entity in a much shorter period of time. This can be as short as 3 months (90 days).

The money, also called damages, that a person injured in a car accident can receive includes reimbursement for all medical expenses and future medical expenses. Medical expenses are based on actual medical bills for care that the injured person received. Future medical expenses are based on testimony regarding the likely cost of long term care. Even if health care insurance has paid for medical bills, an injured person is entitled to be compensated for the full amount as if that individual had personally paid the bills. Under certain circumstances, a medical insurer may seek reimbursement from the person who received the care.

Additional damages include pain and suffering and future pain and suffering; lost wages and future lost wages; and in some cases loss of consortium (e.g. sex with your partner). The money paid for Pain and suffering is meant to compensate you for your actual pain and suffering as a result of the injury. Future pain and suffering takes into account how long your condition will continue and its effect on your daily life. If you are out of work due to an accident related injury, you are entitled to be compensated for your lost wages. Even if you were paid through sick leave or vacation leave, you are also entitled to be compensated for the same amount as if you were not paid. You are also entitled to be compensated for future lost wages, particularly when you are unable to return to the same type of work or to work at all. 

Damages are paid in a lump sum at the end of the case either through settlement or jury verdict. Once the final amount is determined, you cannot seek additional amounts in the future for the same accident.

As you can see, these situations are very complicated. If you or a loved one is involved in a car accident, please take good care of yourself and your injuries. Then be sure to call an attorney at our NJ injury law firm to ensure that your rights are protected. And ALWAYS wear your seatbelt.

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Helmer, Conley & Kasselman, P.A.

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