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New Jersey Statute of Limitations in Car Accident Cases

February 1, 2021 By Cerussi and Gunn P.C. Legal Team

A statute of limitations is a law that imposes a time limit on your ability to file a car accident claim in New Jersey. It is extremely important to act quickly to take legal action after a car accident to avoid missing your deadline. Doing so can protect your right to recover compensation as well as preserve key evidence connected to your car accident case.

New Jersey’s Statute of Limitations on a Car Accident Case Is 2 Years

According to New Jersey Revised Statutes section 2A:14-2(a), unless an exception exists by law, every action for an injury caused by another person’s wrongful act, default or neglect must be brought within two years of the date of accrual of the cause of action. This is New Jersey’s statute of limitations, which places a deadline from the date of most accidents, including car accidents.

For the most part, if you attempt to bring a car accident case against a defendant more than two years after the car accident happened, the courts in New Jersey will refuse to hear your case. Even if the courts do accept your case, the defendant will most likely attempt to block your action by proving that you filed your claim too late.

Why Do Statutes of Limitations Exist?

In civil law, statutes of limitations restrict an injured party’s right to hold someone liable legally responsible for his or her losses. The point of a statute of limitations is to save people from having the threat of a lawsuit hanging above their heads without end, which the law holds would be more unjust than just, as well as to make the justice system more efficient.

Statutes of limitations are different in each state. They also vary according to the specific type of case. For example, the statute of limitations on a car accident lawsuit may differ from that of a medical malpractice case. The deadline may also vary based on other factors, such as your age at the time of the injury. It is important to learn your statute of limitations if you wish to have a valid claim to damages after an auto accident in New Jersey.

Are There Any Exceptions to the Statute of Limitations?

As stated directly in the law in New Jersey, there are some exceptions to the statute of limitations for a car accident case. A common allowance is the discovery rule. This rule enables a victim to toll, or extend, New Jersey’s statute of limitations if he or she does not discover the injury right away. If you were not diagnosed with whiplash until two days after your car accident, for example, you will have two years from the date of your diagnosis rather than the date of the crash to file.

Another exception exists for underage victims. If the injured party was a minor under the age of 18 at the time of the car accident, the victim may have longer than two years to bring a claim. In New Jersey, the courts will typically toll the statute of limitations for a minor until two years after he or she reaches the age of 18, regardless of how long this is from the date of the car accident.

You may also have a different statute of limitations if you are filing a wrongful death claim for the loss of a loved one’s life in an auto accident in New Jersey. You must initiate this type of claim within two years of your loved one’s death, not necessarily within two years of the date of the car accident. Finally, if you are filing a claim for only property damage, you will have six years for initiating a claim.

It is also important to note that if you are bringing a claim against the government, such as for a crash caused by an on-duty police officer, you will only have 90 days from the date of your crash to file. If you are unsure about the date of your specific statute of limitations, as well as whether it is possible to extend your deadline, consult with an attorney.