Trying to manage the aftermath of an injury is a difficult process. You need time to rest and recuperate, but you also have bills to pay, and the cost of your medical care only exacerbates the issue. Not to mention the pain and general disruption to your life.
If someone else caused your injury, whether purposefully or by accident, you may not need to deal with these challenges on your own. Through a personal injury lawsuit, the person who hurt you may be required to pay you financial compensation for medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering, in an attempt to put you in the position you’d be in had the injury not occurred.
Every state has different laws and procedures for correctly filing a personal injury lawsuit, so it’s important to pay specific attention to New Jersey’s rules.
A personal injury lawsuit is a civil suit you can file to recover monetary damages from someone who injured you. The amount of money awarded to you can typically include the injury’s economic costs, like doctors’ bills for short- and long-term medical care, or non-economic costs, like emotional distress. In New Jersey, there’s usually no cap on how much money you can recover for economic or non-economic costs.
Many types of injuries can serve as the basis for a personal injury claim, so long as someone else caused them. This can include intentional or accidental injuries.
An intentional harm is the result of someone else’s purposeful actions that injured you, whether or not the harm itself was actually purposeful. If someone intentionally pushes you and you fall and break your arm as a result, it typically won’t matter if they meant to hurt you or they only meant to move you; it often only matters that the push itself was intentional.
These cases are usually charged as assaults or batteries in the civil court. You’ll need to prove that the other party made intentional contact with you. Intent, in these cases, usually means that they either wanted to make physical contact with you, or they had a strong reason to know that their actions would lead to physical contact with you.
Accidents happen, but when that accident hurts someone else, they shouldn’t have to handle the fallout on their own. Two types of accidental injuries in particular could make a strong case in a personal injury suit: negligence and strict liability.
Negligent injuries are injuries that weren’t caused on purpose, but could have been avoided if the injurer had acted more reasonably. If you’re hit by a car while the driver was texting, you could have a case for negligence, because your injury may have been prevented if the driver operated their car within the scope of New Jersey’s road safety laws and generally understood practices of reasonable care.
It’s important to keep in mind that New Jersey is a comparative negligence state. That means if your actions contributed to the circumstances of your injury, you may be unable to get all, or even any, of the money you’re trying to claim. So if that texting driver hit you, but you were crossing the road at a “don’t walk” sign, the courts may say that your carelessness also led to your injury. They will then determine how at fault they think you are and reduce your compensation accordingly.
If you sued the driver for $10,000 but the court finds you were 30 percent at fault, you’ll likely only receive $7,000 for the 70 percent of the damages that they deemed not your fault.
However, if the court finds you were more than 50 percent at fault, you’ll likely be barred from recuperating any money from the other party.
Not all accidents are negligent, however. Someone else may hurt you even though they took all the necessary safety precautions. That doesn’t automatically mean they don’t have to compensate you for the harm they caused, though. In cases of strict liability they could be responsible for paying you damages, even if they took appropriate precautions.
Strict liability often comes into play for “abnormally dangerous activities.” If a construction crew is blasting rocks near the highway and you’re hit by falling debris, they may still be strictly liable, even if thy followed the appropriate safety measures. Product liability and dog bites are other common causes for strict liability.
To file a personal injury suit, you’ll need to fill out the appropriate paperwork at the court. You’ll also need to gather evidence to support your case, like medical records, police reports, or witness information.
One of the most important things to keep in mind when preparing to file your lawsuit is the statute of limitations: the timeline you have to file your lawsuit. In New Jersey, the statute of limitations on personal injury cases is two years from the time the injury occurred. Wait longer than two years without a valid exception, such as temporary incapacitation following the injury, and the court may not hear your case at all.
There are usually a lot of steps and a lot of paperwork involved in filing a lawsuit. If you make any mistakes, you might need to start part of the process over again, or you may even hurt your chances of recovering the money you’re owed. A local personal injury attorney could help you analyze your case, file your paperwork, and represent you in court, which may lead to better outcomes for you.
Injuries cost money, including time away from work, medical bills, and other complications. Before taking legal action or trying to negotiate a settlement on your own, you should talk to an attorney about your case. You can search LawInfo’s legal directory to find a local personal injury attorney about the merits of your case. This one step can level the playing field, help you protect your rights, and put you in the best position for recovering the compensation that you deserve.