When Do You Have The Right To Sue For Personal Injury In New Jersey?

By Mark S. Tepper, Esq.

Tepper, Scherling & Berliner, LLC
570 West Mount Pleasant Avenue
Suite 101
Livingston, NJ 07039
Phone: 973-577-7620
Fax: 973-740-1785

In New Jersey you basically need two (2) things to happen in order to sue for monetary damages for pain and suffering if you are injured in an accident.

Firstly, someone else, or entity, must be at fault for the accident, as well as the injuries.

Simply stated, and by way of illustration, if a person is a passenger in an automobile that is rear ended by another vehicle, then the person has a case because he or she is not at fault for the accident. In this scenario, the driver of the vehicle causing the rear end collision is at fault. Therefore, the passenger may sue the other driver who caused the accident.

The driver of the vehicle which caused the rear end accident, however, cannot sue for his or her personal injuries resulting from the accident as this particular person caused the accident, and is at fault.

Therefore, the first step as above is that someone, or entity, is at fault for the accident. The second step is to determine the nature and extent of the injuries, or how badly you are hurt.

In order to sue for monetary damages for pain and suffering, there must be injuries causally related to the accident. If a person is involved in an accident that is not his or her fault, but is not injured, then there is no case for pain and suffering. Simply stated, you must be injured in an accident in order to sue.

The second step involving injuries can be somewhat tricky concerning automobile accidents in New Jersey. This is because of the New Jersey thresholds which are choices on your own automobile insurance policy which control your right to sue.

Basically, there are two (2) types of choices, or thresholds, listed on an automobile insurance policy which controls the right to sue for monetary damages for pain and suffering.

These thresholds are based upon the severity, and permanent nature and extent of your injuries. You get to choose which threshold you want on your automobile insurance policy. If you fail to choose a threshold, your insurance company will automatically give you the threshold which will severely limit your right to sue.

The first threshold choice, or option, is the "Lawsuit Limitation Option" or the "Verbal Threshold", which both mean the same thing.

Under the "Lawsuit Limitation Option" or "Verbal Threshold Option", an injured person requires a very serious injury in order to recover monetary damages for pain and suffering even if the other driver is 100% at fault.

If a person selects the "Lawsuit Limitation Option" or "Verbal Threshold" on their own automobile insurance policy, then in order to sue someone who caused the accident in an automobile case, the injured person must satisfy one (1) of the six (6) types of injuries described verbally as follows:

Type 1- Death

Type 2- Dismemberment

Type 3- Significant disfigurement or scarring

Type 4- Displaced fractures

Type 5- Loss of a fetus

Type 6- Permanent injury (which occurs when a body part has not and will

not heal to function normally with further treatment)

The second type of choice or option that a person may choose in New Jersey is the "No Limitation", or "Zero Threshold", which are the same thing.

A person who has selected the "No Limitation" or "Zero Threshold" is not required to meet the above six (6) types of injuries. The "No Limitation" or "Zero Threshold" allows a person to sue if the person is injured without limitation as to the severity of the injury.

Unfortunately, many cases are denied, or dismissed by the court, or lost by jury verdict if the person has elected the "Lawsuit Limitation" option or "Verbal Threshold" option.

Of course, Tepper, Scherling & Berliner recommend the "No Threshold" or "Zero Threshold" as the correct choice, and to protect our clients.

It is very important to contact an attorney as soon as possible after any accident for consultation. This is because there are time limits and constraints concerning lawsuits. Under certain circumstances, persons or entities require early notification, such as a ninety (90) day notice requirement for lawsuits against the State of New Jersey, its subdivisions, agents, or employees.

The general personal injury Statute of Limitations in New Jersey is two (2) years from the date of the accident. There are, however, considerations concerning any time limitations and it is therefore necessary to consult with an attorney as soon as possible after an accident.

This explanation of when you have the right to sue for personal injury in New Jersey is for informational and educational purposes only, and shall not be construed as legal advice.

Please contact Tepper, Scherling & Berliner should you have any questions concerning your right to sue if you are injured in an automobile accident case, and for legal advice.

Please remember that overall, Tepper, Scherling & Berliner have recovered over One Hundred Million Dollars ($100,000,000.00) in insurance benefits for our clients. We are very skilled in all types of personal injury matters, and have a competent and knowledgeable support staff. We welcome all calls for representation.