Injured in a NJ Auto Accident-How Does an Car Accident Lawsuit Work?
For those injured in a car accident in New Jersey, it is important to consult with a New Jersey Personal Injury Attorney as soon as possible. Most NJ personal injury lawyers will provide a free initial consultation and work on a contingency fee basis so there is really no downside to consulting with one. It will give you an opportunity to review your rights and responsibilities.
THE ACCIDENT SCENE
As soon as an auto accident occurs, word of the accident spreads pretty quickly. Generally, the police find out immediately as someone calls them from the scene. Later, a police report is generated and made available to the public. If there are injuries reported to the police at the scene, the police will call an ambulance to take those injured to the hospital unless they refuse treatment. Those requiring an ambulance and a hospital visit often forget that auto insurance is the primary insurer in NJ for the medical bills incurred from the accident unless health insurance was previously chosen as primary on the insurance application.
INJURED IN A NJ ACCIDENT
For those that elect to obtain the services of a personal injury attorney in NJ, the lawyer and the client will enter into a retainer agreement. The attorney will usually work on a contingency fee basis under the retainer agreement. This means that the client pays nothing up front. The lawyer will take his or her fee at the end of the case out of any recovery.
LIMITATION ON LAWSUIT THRESHOLD
Most New Jersey residents have a limitation on lawsuit threshold on their auto insurance policy. A limitation on lawsuit threshold prevents those injured in a car accident from filing a lawsuit against the party that caused it unless they fall into one of six exceptions:
- Significant Disfigurement or Scarring
- Displaced fracture
- Loss of a Fetus
- Permanent Injury (an injury to a body part that has not and will not healed to function normally)
THE PERSONAL INJURY LAWSUIT
After signing up with a NJ Personal Injury Attorney, the lawyer will have to collect the client’s medical records and review the law to determine whether there is a case. This is based upon the lawyer’s opinion and many times lawyers disagree. Assuming there is a case, the lawyer will file a Complaint on behalf of the client. It is then incumbent upon the defendant to file an Answer. The discovery period begins as well. Discovery is the period in which the plaintiff and the defendant exchange information. In a car accident case, this generally involves exchanging medical records, answering written questions, answering oral questions at a deposition and undergoing medical examinations. The discovery period can take over a year to complete.
Once discovery is over, the matter will go to arbitration. Arbitration is like a mini-trial before an arbitrator. An arbitrator is an experienced lawyer in the community with no connection to the case who is selected at random to review it. Witnesses can testify before the arbitrator. Medical records are reviewed by the arbitrator. A decision will then be made by the arbitrator as to how much the case is worth.
Arbitration in non-binding and, therefore, either party can reject the arbitrator’s decision. If either party rejects the arbitrator’s decision, the matter will be listed for trial. Most trials for car accident cases are over within a week. At trial, witnesses such as the plaintiff, the defendant, the medical doctors, witnesses of the accident, experts, etc…are called to testify. The lawyers for the plaintiff and the defendant will give opening and closing statements as well. Following the closing statements, the jury will then decide the issues. In a car accident case, the issues generally pertain to who was at fault for the accident, whether the plaintiff’s injures met the limitation on lawsuit threshold and how much to award in compensation.
So, when does the car accident case settle?
A car accident case can settle at any moment during this entire process. There are many, many factors that go into when and whether the case settles. Unfortunately, it varies on a case-by-case basis. Sometimes, it doesn’t settle and a trial is necessary.
NJ PERSONAL INJURY LAWYER – THE SLOAN LAW FIRM
If you have been injured in a NJ car accident, it is a good idea to discuss the matter with a NJ Personal Injury Lawyer. The Sloan Law Firm handles auto accident cases throughout New Jersey and can be reached at (908) 358-2938 to discuss any matter. Thank for reading.
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