Car accidents, though jarring, disturbing and painful, are more than a common occurrence in our lives. In fact, the United States sees about 6 million car accidents annually, and though this number is surprising, it’s even more shocking to know that in the U.S., approximately 90 people die in car accidents every single day. Additionally, out of those 6 million annual car accidents, about 3 million people are injured, and of that 3 million, 2 million sustain permanent injuries. These are harrowing numbers. To make matters worse, most of these people were harmed due to driver negligence. Simply put, these accidents could have been prevented.
Fortunately, the silver lining is that our firm exists to help the wrongly injured receive the financial compensation they deserve and need to have a swift, affordable recovery. Below, we have compiled a guide containing answers to some of the most frequently asked questions regarding car accidents. If you are someone who has been injured in a car accident, or you know someone who has, please read on and reach out to our experienced New Jersey personal injury attorneys to learn more about car accidents, what to do after them, and how our firm can help you through the claims process.
What are the most common causes of car accidents?
Car accidents are caused by several different factors. Sometimes, they are simply inevitable. People get caught in dangerous snowstorms, deer run into the road at the last second, etc. However, as mentioned above, the most prevalent cause of car accidents is driver negligence. Perhaps the two biggest threats on the road are distracted driving and driving under the influence. Distracted driving can come in many forms, however, unsurprisingly, the most common is texting and driving. This is an extremely dangerous, yet preventable action.
In other cases, drivers will get behind the wheel after having a drink or taking a controlled substance and cause an accident. These accidents are frequently the most devastating, as drunk or drugged drivers have far less control over their vehicles than they would otherwise–often resulting in head-on collisions from crossing over double-yellow lines, and other horrors of that nature.
That being said, speeding is perhaps just as dangerous as the two aforementioned types of negligence, if not a close third. Though we all know speeding is dangerous, people still do it, and if you were injured by a speeding driver, they are most likely liable, especially in rear-end crashes. The last common type of driver negligence is driving while fatigued. Though we cannot help being tired after a long day of work, it is always best to grab an extra cup of coffee or take certain additional precautions to ensure you do not drive while drowsy or fatigued. If someone crashes while asleep at the wheel, you can bet that accident was their fault.
What should I do after a car accident?
Car accidents happen in a matter of seconds, which is why they catch us so off-guard, allowing us little, if any time to react. However, with a plan in place beforehand, you can take action to increase your chances of winning your personal injury claim. After an accident, you should always do the following:
- Call the police. They will send an ambulance, which will take you to a hospital for treatment. However, the ambulance will probably take at least a few minutes to arrive, and you have to use that timeframe wisely.
- While you wait, politely ask the negligent driver for their insurance information and take pictures of the scene of the accident.
- Ask any witnesses for their contact information so they may corroborate your claim if need be.
- Once you have received medical treatment at the hospital, ensure your doctor provides you with all documentation regarding your injuries, their extent, and where/when they occurred. You may use this information to bolster your personal injury claim.
- Reach out to an attorney. Our attorneys are trained and battle-tested in gathering and presenting evidence to prove our clients’ personal injury claims. In fact, our firm has nearly 50 years of combined experience in doing exactly that, and we are ready to put that experience to work for you.
What is PIP?
New Jersey drivers are covered by PIP, or Personal Injury Protection. PIP is no-fault insurance that ensures at least a portion of your medical bills and lost wages are covered, should you get in a serious accident. Unfortunately, PIP rarely covers the entire amount of damages, especially if your injuries required multiple surgeries or several overnights spent at the hospital. When this happens, you should hire an attorney who is ready to fight for the full amount of compensation you deserve.
Can I sue for a car accident that was partially my fault?
New Jersey has what is known as a “comparative negligence law” in place. This law states that even if you were partially at fault for an accident, you may still sue the other negligent driver’s insurance company. However, the court must first determine which driver was more at fault and adjust compensation accordingly. For example, if the court decides you were 30% at fault for an accident, it will dimish your compensation by 30%. Rather obviously, it helps tremendously in this situation to have an experienced personal injury attorney who can effectively state your case.
What should I do if the other driver doesn’t have insurance?
Generally, when people are injured in car accidents, they will sue the other motorist’s insurance company for their negligence. However, if you were hit by an uninsured motorist, it further complicates the matter. Fortunately, you may still seek financial compensation via UM insurance. UM insurance stands for underinsured or uninsured motorist coverage. This insurance exists so that if you were injured by an uninsured motorist, you may file a claim with your own insurance company, where they should compensate you for the damage to your car, as well as your medical bills, up to a certain dollar amount. That being said, time is of the essence–in many cases, your insurer will only grant you 30 days to file an underinsured or uninsured motorist claim, so you cannot make the mistake of waiting.
If you do not have UM insurance and were injured in an accident with an uninsured motorist, the collision coverage part of your policy may compensate you for damages to your car, though it will not cover your medical bills. No matter the specifics of your case, our attorneys are here to help you win the compensation you need to get back on your feet again.
If I was injured as a passenger in my friend’s car, will I have to sue them directly?
We get this question a lot. You were riding along in your friend’s car when suddenly, he crashed, and you sustained injuries as a result. Though the accident may have been your friend’s fault, you still don’t want to sue him–he’s your friend, and it was only an accident. However, meanwhile, medical bills are piling up, and you are most likely still physically in pain. It’s a complicated situation.
Fortunately, many of our clients are pleased to learn that there is a “best-of-both-worlds” scenario, as long as you hire an experienced attorney. The truth is, generally, our firm will only sue your friend’s insurance company, meaning in many cases, you can win the compensation you need, without costing your friend a dime.
What happens if I’m injured in an Uber or Lyft?
Though we tend to think of ridesharing services, such as Uber and Lyft as affordable, safe alternative means of transportation, the truth is, they are not without risk. That is why Uber and Lyft have a liability coverage system in place to help all those wrongly injured in Uber/Lyft accidents. Their liability coverage is as follows:
- Period 0: This is when the Uber/Lyft driver is not logged into the rideshare app and gets into an accident. In this case, Uber/Lyft will not provide coverage.
- Period 1: This is when the driver gets into an accident while he or she is logged in, yet has not accepted a ride. Under these circumstances, Uber/Lyft provides liability coverage for an accident that is the driver’s fault, up to $50,000 per person injured in the accident, $100,000 total injury liability per accident, and $25,000 property damage liability.
- Period 2: Period 2 is when the driver crashes after he or she has accepted a ride and is en route to pick up the passenger. Here, liability coverage increases to $1 million.
- Period 3: This is when the driver crashes with the passenger in his car. In this case, the company will provide $1 million in liability coverage, plus limited coverage for damage to the driver’s car and uninsured motorists’ coverage.
It is worth noting that Uber/Lyft accidents are oftentimes more complex than standard auto accident cases, for several reasons. That is why you need an attorney who knows the ins and outs of the claims process on your side. Generally, you will file these claims against the rideshare service’s insurance company, rather than with the rideshare service itself.
How long does a car accident lawsuit take?
The answer to this question varies, depending on the complexity of your case. For example, if the party responsible for your accident is fairly obvious, we may reach a favorable settlement within a few months. However, there are other circumstances where, if your case goes to trial, it may take a year or more to completely resolve.
Will my accident case have to go to trial?
Many clients worry that when they file a lawsuit, they will have to spend days, weeks, or even months in court. Our firm is happy to say that in most cases, we can obtain a favorable outcome on your behalf in a pre-trial settlement without ever having to go to trial. Though it is not a guarantee, the odds are in your favor when you retain the legal services of McNerny & McAuliffe today. Our firm understands that you want to move on with your life as soon as possible, however, the truth is, there are circumstances where more time is necessary, and going to trial can drastically (and positively) affect the ultimate payout of your injury claim.
How long do I have to sue after being injured in a car accident?
New Jersey law grants the wrongly injured a certain amount of time to file personal injury lawsuits, known as the statute of limitations. Since the statute of limitations for car accidents in New Jersey is two years, you will, generally, have two years from the date of your accident to sue the negligent motorist. This statute of limitations also applies to many other types of injury lawsuits, including slip-and-fall injuries, product liability cases, dog bite injuries, and wrongful deaths. Do not wait to file, for if you wait too long, you will most likely be barred from suing. Our firm is ready to begin the claims process immediately–all you have to do is ask.
What should I bring to my initial consultation with a personal injury attorney?
When you schedule to meet with our attorneys, it is always best to bring the following information with you, if at all possible:
- Pictures and videos of the accident and its aftermath.
- A personally-written statement recounting the accident in its entirety.
- Medical documents describing your injuries, their origin, and how they affect your daily life.
- Your insurance information.
- Communications between you and the negligent motorist or their insurance company. These can include texts, emails, phone calls, or otherwise.
- The police report filed at the scene of your accident.
- Eyewitness contact information, such as phone numbers, business cards emails, or even verbally-recorded voice memos that you captured at the scene of the accident.
Though this may sound like a lot, the truth is, the more information you provide, the better your chances of winning your claim. We will use all the above information to analyze and construct your case as effectively as possible. In many situations, our firm can work to obtain additional useful information, such as security camera footage of your accident. Oftentimes, negligent persons or dishonest witnesses will deny your access to security camera footage–when this happens, we can subpoena that footage on your behalf.
The bottom line–if you have been injured in a car accident, our firm is ready to guide you through the legal process, protecting your rights every step of the way. That being said, though this guide is a useful resource, the truth is, the best resource is a knowledgeable, trustworthy, and compassionate legal team who can fight, tooth-and-nail, for the financial compensation you deserve. Fortunately, you have just found that firm in McNerny & McAuliffe.
Contact an experienced Hackensack, NJ Car accident attorney
When someone is injured due to another party’s negligence, it is only right that they receive the justice they deserve. As a victim, your only job is to call us, and we will take it from there. Please, do yourself a favor and do not wait. If you or someone you know was injured in an accident and is seeking financial compensation, contact the legal team at McNerny & McAuliffe today. Our firm is also experienced in handling legal matters relating to divorce, family law, criminal law, and more. We are here to help.