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Common Misconceptions About Car Accident Claims in New Jersey

The Law Offices of Gold, Albanese & Barletti, LLC  July 5, 2024

Dealing with the aftermath of an auto accident is difficult enough. Family and friends may think they're being supportive by offering advice, but they may lead you down the wrong path. Always defer to legal experts and medical professionals for guidance after being involved in a car accident

Believing in any myths or misconceptions can jeopardize your claim and impact your ability to recover damages. At The Law Offices of Gold, Albanese & Barletti, LLC, our dedicated personal injury attorneys are here to debunk these misconceptions and provide you with accurate legal information so that you can make informed decisions about your case. 

Misconception 1: You Can Only File a Claim if You Were Perfectly Following Traffic Laws 

New Jersey follows a comparative negligence rule, noted in NJ Rev Stat § 2A:15-5.1 et seq. (2013). Under these laws, you are still eligible to file a claim even if you partly contributed to the accident. The critical factor is that your level of fault must not exceed the other party's.  

For instance, if you were found to be 30% at fault and the other party 70%, you can still recover damages. However, your compensation will be reduced by your percentage of fault. Therefore, if the total damages were $100,000, you would be entitled to $70,000. This equitable approach underscores the importance of consulting a legal expert to determine fault percentages accurately. 

Misconception 2: You’ll Definitely Be Fully Compensated by the Insurance Company 

Although New Jersey is a no-fault state, meaning your own insurance typically covers your initial medical expenses and lost wages (Personal Injury Protection or PIP), this doesn't guarantee complete compensation for all your losses.  

NJ Rev Stat § 39:6A-8 (2013) outlines the conditions under which you may step outside the no-fault system to pursue further damages against an at-fault driver, such as if the injuries result in significant disfigurement, fractures, or a loss of a body function.  

Insurance companies are businesses, often aiming to minimize their financial liability. Without skilled legal representation, victims may only receive partial compensation, insufficient to cover the long-term costs of injuries, rehabilitation, and lost earning capacity. 

Misconception 3: Minor Accidents Don’t Require Legal Action 

Even minor accidents might warrant legal consultation due to potential hidden injuries and delayed symptoms. Injuries like whiplash or concussions may initially seem minor but could result in long-term health complications and substantial medical bills.  

NJ Rev Stat § 17:28-1.9 (2013) requires that any injury claim must be substantiated with thorough evidence, which is easier to collect and secure with professional legal assistance. An attorney can help gather medical records, accident reports, and witness testimonies to ensure that all injuries are documented and that you receive fair compensation. 

Misconception 4: You Don’t Need a Lawyer If You Have Insurance 

Having insurance does not negate the need for legal counsel. Insurance companies are for-profit entities and could undervalue or deny your claim to maximize their profits.  

NJ Rev Stat § 17B:30-13.1 (2013) regulates unfair claim settlement practices, mandating that insurers must handle claims in good faith. However, without a lawyer's advocacy, you might not fully leverage these protections.  

An experienced accident lawyer can help you make a claim that's compliant with relevant laws and counter any tactics employed by the insurance company to reduce your compensation. 

Misconception 5: You Have Plenty of Time to File a Claim 

New Jersey’s statute of limitations for personal injury claims is stipulated under NJ Rev Stat § 2A:14-2 (2013), which generally allows two years from the date of the accident to file a lawsuit. Missing this deadline typically results in losing your right to pursue legal action for your injuries. Prompt legal action is vital not only due to this time constraint but also because it helps preserve crucial evidence that supports your claim. Waiting too long could mean that witness memories fade, physical evidence diminishes, or surveillance footage is deleted, severely weakening your case. 

At The Law Offices of Gold, Albanese & Barletti, LLC, our knowledgeable attorneys will ensure that you navigate these legal intricacies effectively, making well-informed decisions to optimize your compensation. 

Partner With an Experienced Car Accident Attorney

Being involved in a car accident can be both physically and emotionally draining. Allowing misconceptions to influence your decisions can further complicate your path to recovery. At The Law Offices of Gold, Albanese & Barletti, LLC, our attorneys are dedicated to protecting your rights and guiding you through the legal maze. We will work tirelessly to secure the compensation you deserve for your injuries and losses. 

Contact us at The Law Offices of Gold, Albanese & Barletti, LLC, today to schedule a straightforward case evaluation with our seasoned car accident attorneys. Let our committed legal team steer you through the complexities of filing a claim and seeking damages. We proudly serve clients throughout Morristown, New Jersey, as well as surrounding areas across New Jersey, New York, and Boston, Massachusetts.