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Personal injury lawsuits are relatively common in the United States, with over 400,000 claims made each year. Only about 4% of those claims make it to trial. The most common personal injury claims are made after an auto accident, with over half of all cases involving a car accident. In New Jersey, personal injury cases can be complex due to their joint liability and comparative negligence laws regarding these types of lawsuits. If you have been injured in an auto or another accident, make sure you do your due diligence and seek the proper medical care before seeking legal advice.

In this article, you will find information regarding specific personal injury laws for New Jersey, liability guidelines for the state, as well as information regarding how much compensation can be received in a personal injury lawsuit, the statute of limitations in New Jersey, and other pertinent information.

Damages Recoverable Law in New Jersey

In New Jersey, after an accident where an injury occurs, whether it’s at a business or due to an auto accident, the victim of the accident can be within their right to file a personal injury lawsuit for certain lost damages under New Jersey’s damages recoverable law. Under this law, if the victim of the accident where the injury occurred suffers lost wages, lost future earning ability, property damage, and physical and emotional pain and suffering, they may be able to sue for the cost of those damages. Additionally, if the victim has incurred medical expenses from the injury, they may also collect on those. If the victim requires any additional costs for household help because of their injuries, those may also be added to the lawsuit.

New Jersey Joint Liability Law

In most cases where a plaintiff is suing more than one defendant in a personal injury lawsuit in New Jersey, the defendants are both liable for damages to the plaintiff. In rare cases, however, if one defendant is found to be 60% at fault or more, that lone defendant will be liable for all damages to the plaintiff. They will have full responsibility to recover proportionate damages from any other defendants involved, but they must do so separately from the original personal injury lawsuit involving the plaintiff.

Product Liability Law

According to a New Jersey law on product liability, any product manufacturer may be liable for injuries caused by one of their products to a consumer. The joint liability law can also come into play for these types of scenarios, especially if products are made jointly by one or more product manufacturers. 

New Jersey’s Comparative Negligence Law

In most personal injury cases, one party typically goes after damages from the responsible party. However, there are cases where both parties may be at blame for each party’s injuries, or the person you’re trying to hold accountable for the injuries claims that you are also to blame for both of your injuries. If it is found that you do share at least some of the fault for the accident, it can affect the total compensation you receive in the lawsuit.

New Jersey’s modified comparative negligence rule states that if your personal injury lawsuit ends up going to trial, the amount of money and compensation you’re entitled to will be reduced by “an amount that is equal to your percentage of fault for the accident.” The stipulation to this rule is that if you are found to carry more than half of the legal obligation to the accident, you will receive no compensation at all. All courts in the state of New Jersey are obligated to follow this rule only if the personal injury lawsuit goes to trial. 

For example, if you are involved in a car accident, and you are found to be 20 percent at fault, and the other party is found to be 80 percent at fault, you will only receive 80 percent of your compensation. If the payout is $10,000, you would only receive $8,000 before legal fees.

New Jersey’s “Choice No-Fault” Insurance System

New Jersey’s “choice no-fault” car insurance system applies only to car accidents. All drivers are required to have car insurance for their vehicle, and they can choose between a “Basic” or “Standard” policy when purchasing their car insurance. The “Basic” insurance option is a form of no-fault car insurance, meaning any injury claim after an accident must be made with the injured driver’s own personal injury protection (PIP) coverage, regardless of who was at fault for the accident. In these claims, there is no compensation for non-economic damages such as pain and suffering. It does, however, expedite the payment of most of the out-of-pocket losses.

The only way someone in New Jersey can file a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault driver outside of this system is if the crash resulted in the loss of a body part, significant scarring or disfigurement, or loss of a fetus, permanent injury, a displaced fracture, or death.

New Jersey’s “One Bite” Rule for Dog Bites

In many states, dog owners are mostly protected from liability when their dog bites someone for the first time and injures them, as long as they have no reason to believe that the dog posed a threat. Many states call this a “one bite” rule. However, New Jersey makes dog owners liable for all bite-related injuries, regardless whether the animal poses a threat and regardless of the animal’s past behavior. This revised statute (New Jersey Revised Statutes section 4:19-16) states that “the owner of any dog [that bites someone who is] in a public place, or lawfully on or in a private place, including the property of the owner of the dog, shall be liable for such damages as may be suffered by the person bitten, regardless of the former viciousness of such dog or the owner’s knowledge of such viciousness.”

New Jersey Business Liability Insurance Requirements

In New Jersey, the only types of business insurance required by state law are workers’ compensation and liability insurance. Any business in the state that has one or more employees can get this coverage through a private insurance carrier or qualify to be self-insured. As of 2022, business owners and landlords in the state are required to carry a minimum of $500,000 of liability insurance for property damage, deaths, or injuries that may occur at their properties. The new law also states that landlords of multi-family homes must carry a minimum of $300,000 of liability insurance for property damage, injuries, or deaths that occur on the property. 

These insurance policies protect business owners from financial loss resulting from injuries or damage that happens on their property or within their business. The business owner must maintain this liability insurance policy that includes, but is not limited to, commercial general liability insurance, personal liability, or an umbrella policy of no less than $500,000. Most business owners in New Jersey carry a General Liability insurance policy that protects them against third-party bodily injury, property damage, advertising injury, and personal injury. Insurance companies offer BOP policies for business owners, combining property and liability coverage.

How much can someone sue for an injury in New Jersey?

The amount for which someone can sue in New Jersey is dependent on several factors. The first factor is liability. New Jersey’s comparative negligence law means that in the event of an accident, both parties can share equal responsibility for the accident. The amount for which a single victim can receive is dependent on their ability to establish fault in the other party. The second factor for how much someone can sue for is damages. The amount a single party can sue for is based on the actual economic and non-economic losses that occurred in the accident. The more damages a party can prove, the greater the compensation will be. New Jersey does not have a cap or limit on how much someone can receive in compensation.

Statute of Limitations in New Jersey

Every state in the country has a time limit for people who have been injured in an accident to file a lawsuit. New Jersey’s statute of limitations for personal injury lawsuits gives the victim two years from the day of the accident to go to court and file the lawsuit against the person who caused the harm or business where the harm occurred. Once the two years are up, most courts in New Jersey will refuse to hear the case. Extensions can be given under special circumstances. If the injury case is filed against the New Jersey state government or a local government in the state, the limitation is shorter for certain circumstances.

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