QUESTION: Is there a Statute of Limitations for personal injury claims?
Yes. In New Jersey, a Plaintiff has 2 years from the date of incident to file their lawsuit. If your lawsuit is not filed within the 2 year limit, you may lose your right to file your lawsuit.
QUESTION: What is negligence?
In New Jersey, negligence is defined as conduct which falls below the standard established by law for the protection of others against unreasonable risk of harm. Simply put, negligence is when someone fails to act as a reasonable person would in the same circumstances.
QUESTION: What is needed to establish negligence?
In New Jersey, a plaintiff must prove 4 elements to establish a claim of negligence against a defendant:
- Duty of care: The plaintiff must demonstrate the defendant had the duty to act as a reasonable person would in regard to preventing injury.
- A breach of duty: If the plaintiff proves the defendant had a duty of care, he or she must then establish the defendant failed in their obligation to exercise reasonable care.
- Causation: The plaintiff must effectively connect the defendant's breach of duty with his or her injuries. The damages must be within the scope of what the defendant could have reasonably foreseen as a result of his or her actions.
- Damages: The plaintiff must have experienced actual harm as a result of the negligence. If the plaintiff did not sustain any actual harm or injuries, there is no basis for any compensation, regardless of how defendant acted.
QUESTION: In order to have a personal injury claim, does my "injury" need to be physical?
No. Personal injury claims can also involve claims of injury to a person's mind or emotions. For example, if someone acts negligently and causes you emotional distress from their actions, you may have a personal injury claim and be entitled to compensation for your injuries.
QUESTION: What is the difference between compensatory damages and punitive damages?
Compensatory damages are designed to give the plaintiff justice for their damages and make them "whole" again. Examples of compensatory damages are medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. For example, if you are rear ended in a car accident, your lost wages, medical expenses, and pain and suffering would be compensatory damages that you would be entitled to. There is no limit on the amount of compensatory damages you can be awarded.
Punitive damages are designed to punish the defendant for their actions and deter others from acting in the same way. For example, if you are hit by a drunk driver, you can be awarded punitive damages to deter others from driving drunk. Punitive damages have a limit of 5 times your compensatory damages or $350,000, which ever is greater.
QUESTION: If I am partially at fault for an accident, can I still recover compensation for my injuries?
Yes. New Jersey operates under a "Comparative Negligence Rule". As long as your fault is less than 50%, you can still recover damages. For example, if you received $1,000,000 in damages as the result of a car accident, but where 10% responsible for the accident, you would receive $900,000.
$1,000,000 minus 10% = $900,000
QUESTION: I was hit by a car while crossing the street. The insurance company of the car driver wants to speak with me. Should I speak with them prior to speaking with my attorney?
No. Insurance companies are trained to try and influence your answers to shield them from liability. This means you could lose out on some or all of your compensation for your claim if you speak with them before you talk to your attorney.