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LEGAL QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS

AUTOMOBILE ACCIDENTS 

Q: What should I do if I am involved in a car accident?

A:  Here are 10 tips which will protect you if you are involved in an accident:

1. Call the police.

2. Get immediate medical care.

3. Exchange insurance and registration information.

4. Obtain the names and addresses of any witnesses.

5. Don’t discuss the accident with the other driver.

6. Do not admit fault.

7. Report the accident to your insurance company.

8. Photograph the vehicles and the accident scene.

9. Follow-up with medical care for your injuries.

10. Call an experienced personal injury attorney to learn if you are entitled to compensation for your injuries.

CALL 732-244-0500 for a FREE telephone consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney.

Q:  How are medical bills paid?

A:  Under New Jersey’s No Fault Act, medical bills associated with a motor vehicle accident are normally paid through your automobile insurance company (unless you have selected an alternate source of medical bill payment, such as your health insurance company). Medical bills should be submitted to your insurance company to be paid under your personal injury protection benefits (PIP), and all forms required by your insurance company should be filled out.

Q:  How much will my insurance company pay toward my medical bills?

A:  There is an initial $250.00 deductible, then the car insurance company pays 80% of medical bills under a medical fee schedule established by the State Department of Insurance. After $5,000.00, the car insurance company pays 100% under the fee schedule until the insurance company terminates future treatment based upon an independent medical exam (IME). The deductible and 20% co-pay portion of the bills should be sent to your health insurance company.

Q:  Should I speak with the other driver’s insurance company?

A:  No. Refer them to your lawyer. The insurance representative may misinterpret your statements. Frequently, they will record your conversation which may be used against you later.

Q:  Should I cash any checks from an insurance company sent to me to cover my damages?

A:  Not without legal advice. Cashing a check may prejudice your future rights regarding the accident.

Q:  If I am injured, can I make a claim against the driver who caused the accident?

A:  It depends on your insurance policy and the nature of your injuries. If your policy contains the "limitation on lawsuit option" also know as the "verbal threshold" you must suffer one of the following types of injuries to be entitled to compensation for your pain and suffering:

Type 1 - Death

Type 2 - Dismemberment

Type 3 - Significant disfigurement or scarring

Type 4 - Displaced fracture

Type 5 - Loss of a fetus

Type 6 - Permanent Injury (a permanent injury occurs when a body part has not and will not heal to function normally)

Also, courts have held that a person subject to the verbal threshold must prove their injury by using "objective medical evidence".

Q:  Are there cases where the Limitation on Lawsuit Threshold or Verbal Threshold doesn’t apply?

A:  Yes, the verbal threshold does not apply to the following persons:                            

A person who elects the "no limitation on lawsuit option" also known as "no threshold" on their insurance policy.

A spouse or child residing in the household of a person who has elected the "no limitation on lawsuit option".

A person who is not required to maintain their own New Jersey Automobile Insurance PIP coverage (for example a person who does not own a vehicle and does not reside with an immediate family member who owns a vehicle).

A person who suffers an injury caused by a motor vehicle which is not an "automobile covered by PIP insurance" (for example, a commercial vehicle).

Out-of-State residents who are injured in New Jersey accidents and whose own insurance companies are not authorized to conduct business in the State of New Jersey.

Q:  What happens if I’m involved in an auto accident with someone who has no auto insurance or has very minimal coverage?

A:  Your auto insurance policy may provide coverage which protects you if the other driver does not have insurance or is underinsured. Your Uninsured Motorist (UM) / Underinsured Motorists (UIM) coverage will determine how much protection you have in these circumstances.

Q:  Is there a time limit to file a law suit for personal injuries?

A:  Yes. As a general rule, there is a two (2) year statute of limitations for pain and suffering claims in New Jersey. This means that if a lawsuit is not filed within two (2) years of the date of the accident, you will be forever barred from making such a claim. It is important that you consult an attorney as soon as possible after an accident so that the claim can be properly investigated and a claim made in a timely fashion.

Q:  If I make a claim for personal injuries, how do I pay my lawyer.

A:  Most personal injury cases are taken on a "contingency" basis. This means that no legal fee is paid unless you receive money for your injuries. At that point, your fee will be a fixed percentage of the recovery (normally 1/3).

CALL 732-244-0500 for a FREE telephone consultation with an experienced Personal Injury Attorney.

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Law Office of Joseph Pinizzotto
189 Route 37 West Toms River, NJ 08755
Phone: 732-244-0500 Fax: 732-286-0629