Can I Recover Compensation for Pain and Suffering after a Car Accident?
Pain can take many forms—physical, mental, emotional, and financial. While no-fault insurance will usually kick in to cover many of the financial losses stemming from an accident, coverage is limited to economic damages and doesn’t include compensation for emotional distress, loss of enjoyment in life, pain and suffering, and other intangible losses.
As such, you may need to bring a lawsuit against the motorist responsible for causing the wreck in order to pursue such damages. However, as New Jersey is a no-fault insurance state, taking legal action is only possible under specific circumstances. In this article, we’ll look at the state’s threshold for filing a lawsuit and which damages may be available in your car wreck claim.
What is the Threshold for Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit in New Jersey?
As New Jersey is a no-fault auto insurance state, you will need to file a claim with your own insurer to recover compensation for medical bills and other damages stemming from an accident, regardless of who caused the wreck. However, if your injury meets the state’s threshold for a “serious injury”, you may also be able to bring a claim directly against the at-fault driver. (Keep in mind that if you selected “no limitation on lawsuit”—often referred to as zero threshold—when purchasing your coverage, these restrictions may not apply.)
For an injury to meet the state’s threshold, it must fall under one of the following categories:
- Loss of limb
- Broken or fractured bones
- Significant disfigurement or scarring
- Permanent injury that can be deemed as a medical probability
- Loss of unborn child
While no-fault insurance typically doesn’t cover non-economic damages stemming from an accident, bringing a case against the liable parties will allow you to seek compensation for pain and suffering in addition to other intangible losses.
Common Damages in a Car Accident Case
New Jersey employs a modified comparative fault system for personal injury cases. Under this system, an injured plaintiff may not recover compensation from another party if the plaintiff’s negligence outweighs that of the party/parties he or she is bringing the claim against. Additionally, if you are partially responsible for causing the accident, a judge or jury may decide to reduce your financial award by your percentage share of fault.
With this in mind, let’s take a look at the types of damages that may be available in your case:
- Economic Damages: This category of damages generally encompasses any monetary losses resulting from an accident such as lost earnings, property repairs, medical expenses, home modifications, replacement services, and physical therapy.
- Non-Economic Damages: The full impact of a serious wreck goes beyond bills, invoices, and receipts. Victims often experience considerable pain and suffering, emotional distress, and are unable to engage in activities that once brought them joy. As a personal injury victim you may be able to recover compensation for such intangible losses. However, these types of damages can be difficult to quantify, so you will need convincing evidence to demonstrate the effect your injury has had on your everyday life. Such evidence can include your personal injury journal, psychiatric reports, and expert witness deposition.
- Punitive Damages: If you can prove that the at-fault motorist acted extremely recklessly or intentionally harmed you, you may be able to make a case for punitive damages. Punitive damages are intended to punish the defendant and to discourage others from carrying out similar acts. Under New Jersey law, a punitive damages award is capped at $350,000 or five times the amount of compensatory damages, whichever total is greater.
Speak to a Car Accident Attorney in New Jersey Today
If you were injured in a car accident, you may be able to recover compensation for pain, suffering, and the other damages you incurred. At the Clark Law Firm, we can assess your claim, answer your questions, and discuss how we may be able to assist with your claim.
Gerald Clark and his team of hand-picked attorneys have obtained some of the largest settlements and verdicts in New Jersey. From the moment you pick up the phone, our legal team will treat you and your family with the respect, professionalism, and sensitivity you deserve. To request a free case assessment, dial 1-877-841-8855 or head over to our Online Contact Page.