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Determining Fault in New Jersey Car Accidents

Determining Fault in New Jersey Car Accidents >

Determining Fault in New Jersey Car Accidents Image

Following a car accident in New Jersey, it’s common to feel shaken, confused, and overwhelmed. Beyond the physical injuries and emotional trauma, you may have serious worries about your finances due to medical expenses and lost income. If another driver caused the accident that injured you, you may have the right to recover compensation. But how is fault determined in a car accident in New Jersey?

New Jersey’s Car Insurance System

Yes, New Jersey is an at-fault state. New Jersey has a “choice no-fault” car insurance system in place, in which your personal injury protection (PIP) coverage will pay for medical bills and expenses and lost income up to your policy limit, irrespective of who was at fault for the accident. If your injuries and losses exceed your policy limit, you may have grounds to sue the other driver or another party if they were at fault.

However, PIP does not provide compensation for pain and suffering. Instead, New Jersey affords drivers the option to select between two policy types:

  • A less expensive “limited right to sue” policy that restricts your ability to bring a pain and suffering claim against the at-fault driver except in cases of serious or permanent injury
  • A more expensive “unlimited right to sue” policy that allows you to sue the at-fault driver for pain and suffering damages for any injury

Even if you chose the “limited right to sue” option, you can still step outside the no-fault system and file a claim against the other driver for pain and suffering if you experienced:

  • Dismemberment
  • Significant disfigurement or scarring
  • Displaced fractures
  • Loss of a fetus
  • Permanent injury (to a reasonable degree of medical probability)
  • Death

Most New Jersey car accident claims involve negotiating fair settlements with auto insurance companies. Insurers have teams of adjusters and attorneys fighting to pay out as little as possible. You need a battle-tested car accident lawyer to advocate for your interests, level the playing field, and achieve the most favorable outcome possible.

How to Prove Fault in a Car Accident

How is fault determined in a car accident? To recover compensation after a crash, you must show that the other driver or another party acted negligently and that negligence directly led to the accident and your injuries. Some of the most common examples of driver negligence include:

  • Speeding
  • Reckless driving
  • Distracted driving (e.g., texting, eating, adjusting the radio)
  • Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  • Disobeying traffic signs and signals
  • Failing to yield the right of way
  • Following too closely (tailgating)
  • Unsafe lane changes
  • Driving while fatigued

To prove the other driver engaged in these or other negligent behaviors, your attorney will conduct a detailed investigation to uncover all available evidence. This insurance fault determination rules may include:

  • Police accident reports
  • Photos and video footage of the accident scene
  • Witness statements
  • Cell phone records
  • Medical records documenting your injuries
  • Reports from accident reconstruction experts
  • Vehicle “black box” data
  • The other driver’s history of traffic violations or accidents

How to Tell Who Is at Fault in an Accident Report

Insurance fault determination rules apply to New Jersey as well. Under New Jersey law, you must immediately report any accident causing injury, death, or property damage over $500 to law enforcement. The responding officer will secure the scene, coordinate emergency medical care, and conduct an initial investigation. The officer will then complete a written accident report detailing their observations and findings.

While police reports are not always admissible in court, insurance companies rely heavily on them when determining fault and deciding whether to pay a claim. Therefore, the information in the report must be complete and accurate.

When reviewing an accident report to assess fault, here are some of the key sections to focus on:

  • The narrative or description of the accident, including the officer’s opinions on contributing factors like speeding, intoxication, or vehicle malfunctions
  • Diagrams showing the position and direction of travel of each vehicle
  • Location of damage on the vehicles
  • Statements from drivers, passengers, and witnesses
  • Any citations issued to the drivers
  • Road, weather, lighting, and traffic conditions
  • Mitigating factors like obstructed views or animals in the roadway

An experienced car accident attorney can analyze the police report and the other evidence and build a compelling case for why the other driver is at fault. 

What Happens If I’m At Fault for a Car Accident?

Determining Fault in New Jersey Car Accidents Image 2In adherence to New Jersey law, every driver must possess a minimum level of liability insurance. This insurance is designated to cover costs associated with bodily injury and property damage resulting from their responsibility in an accident. The specified minimum liability limits of the standard New Jersey car insurance policy are:

  • $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident for bodily injury
  • $25,000 per accident for property damage

If you cause an accident, this coverage kicks in to compensate the other driver up to the limits of your policy. If the other driver’s losses exceed your insurance limits, they can sue you for the difference. That’s why many drivers choose to purchase additional liability coverage for more robust financial protection.

Causing a serious accident can also expose you to traffic or criminal charges for behaviors like speeding, reckless driving, texting while driving, or DUI. You may face significant fines, license suspension, and even jail time. Contact an attorney right away if you are accused of causing a crash. A skilled car accident lawyer will provide the strong advocacy you need to minimize negative consequences and protect your driving privileges.

Contact an Experienced New Jersey Car Accident Lawyer Today

Don’t know how is fault determined in a car accident? After a severe crash, the last thing you should worry about is battling with insurance companies or trying to prove the other driver’s fault. Let the dedicated attorneys at Brach Eichler Injury Lawyers handle every aspect of your claim, giving you the peace of mind to focus on healing.

Our highly skilled legal team in Roseland, NJ, has recovered over $425 million in settlements and verdicts for our clients and will work tirelessly to maximize your compensation. Contact us today for a free consultation to discuss your rights and options after a crash. Call (973) 364-8300 or complete our online form to get started.

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Written by: Brach Eichler Injury Lawyers Last Updated : July 12, 2024
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