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Law Offices of John Morelli
A Personal Injury Firm Serving All Of South Jersey

How NJ Auto-Claim Law Differ From Other States

All fifty states have laws in place which deal with compensation for injuries from auto-accidents, and each state's laws are different from the other. New Jersey is one of only two states in the nation to use the Personal Injury Protection system, or PIP, which guides the handling of auto-claims in the State.

Dealing with the Personal Injury Protection System

The Personal Injury Protection system funnels the medical costs resulting from auto-accident injuries through automobile insurance. After getting into a car accident, unlike in other states, it is auto-insurance which then pays for the victim's medical care out of PIP. Because of this, many auto-insurance companies in New Jersey make it more difficult than in other states to successfully pursue a claim due to the amount of incentives they have to NOT pay for expensive medical procedures and care. Insurance companies actually often see it as cheaper to fight a claim legally than pay for it out of PIP. This can leave an injured person in limbo for months as they wait to have any medical care approved by some insurance representative whom they have never met before and who often times actually receive bonuses based on the number of claims they reject.

Recovering Damages

Not every injured plaintiff is entitled to recover damages for the injury he or she sustains. Besides the injury, the plaintiff must also establish, through credible and relevant evidence, that the defendant is legally responsible for his or her injuries.

In order to do so, the plaintiff must present proof of causation both in terms of actual, factual causation and with regard to "proximate," or legal, causation. Whether legal causation is established depends on the facts and circumstances of the particular matter in question.
In some personal injury actions, legal causation may be established if the plaintiff can show that the defendant engaged in intentional conduct, meaning that the wrongdoer intentionally or purposefully harmed the plaintiff or knew that the conduct in which he or she engaged gave rise to a substantial likelihood that harm would result.

Negligence and Issues of Fault

Other personal injury actions are based on a looser concept of fault called negligence. Under the negligence theory, a defendant is held liable for the results of actions, or inaction, when an ordinary person in the same position should have foreseen that the conduct would create an unreasonable risk of harm to others.

Still other types of personal injury actions are based on strict liability, which is a no-fault system under which liability may attach regardless of the fault of the various parties, including the plaintiff. Strict liability may be applied in products liability cases, such as when a manufacturer or seller of a defective product puts that product into the stream of commerce and users are injured.

The defendant can be held liable as a result of either the actions that are taken, or actions that are not taken. A driver who fails to stop at a red light and hits another vehicle, injuring the driver and/or passengers therein, is liable based on her negligent acts, for example.

And a property owner who fails after a reasonable time to clear the ice and snow from the front steps of a business open to the public may be liable for his inaction if a patron falls and breaks her leg when attempting to enter the premises.

How Attorneys Handle These Laws

Lawyers can help ensure that their clients receive the maximum amount of damages recoverable by law. Some of the items for which injured parties are legally entitled to compensation include past and future lost wages; past and future medical expenses; damages for both physical and emotional pain and suffering, again both past and present; and damages for disfigurement.

Sometimes, a close family member of the injured person, such as his or her spouse, may also be entitled to damages, often referred to "loss of consortium damages," which are intended to compensate the loved one for the loss of the injured party's services and companionship.

Punitive Damages

And punitive damages are awarded when the defendant's conduct was particularly egregious and the court or jury determines that the defendant should be punished by paying an amount above and beyond the plaintiff's actual damages, which awards will also serve to deter others from engaging in similar wrongful conduct.

If you have been involved in an auto accident and are looking to speak to an attorney, call 856-616-1300. Dealing with injuries as a result of a car accident can be a difficult process. Even if you just have a question or concern, call today to see if an attorney is right for you.

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