If you get injured in an accident where you suspect another person was at fault, you may be able to file a personal injury claim in pursuit of financial compensation. The exact legal process that will ensue after you file an insurance claim or lawsuit depends on the specific details of your case. However, most personal injury claims in New Jersey go through essentially the same steps.
First, you will focus on obtaining medical treatment for your injury. Medical care is a critical step, as many insurance companies will deny a claim if the claimant does not obtain an official injury diagnosis from a physician. Go to a hospital or doctor in New Jersey immediately after an accident. If you can, obtain copies of your medical records and x-rays for use during the legal process.
Many insurance companies require claimants to file as soon as possible – often within at least three days of the date of the accident. You can call either your insurance company or the insurance provider of the party you believe is at fault for your accident to file an initial claim.
If you were injured in an auto accident, New Jersey’s no-fault law means you would file a claim with your own provider first. The initial claim will only involve the basic facts of the accident. Expect a phone call from an insurance claims adjuster soon after you file to collect more details about your case.
Before you proceed with sending an insurance company your demand letter, consult with a personal injury lawyer in New Jersey for legal assistance. You can trust the advice you receive from an attorney; an attorney will want to maximize your compensatory award, while a claims adjuster will want to minimize your payout
Find a personal injury lawyer near you with experience in your practice area and a history of successful case results. If the lawyer decides to accept your case, he or she can help you craft an insurance demand letter that fully describes your injuries and requests an adequate amount for your medical expenses and other losses. A lawyer can also guide you through the rest of the personal injury claims process.
The insurance company that receives your claim will investigate the facts. The insurer will assign a claims adjuster to contact all parties involved for interviews. When it is your turn to answer questions, use a lawyer’s advice to avoid incriminating yourself. Do not admit fault for the accident, do not sign anything from the insurance company and do not accept a settlement before speaking to a lawyer. The rest of the investigative period may involve analyzing medical records and evidence, revisiting the crash scene, and assessing vehicle damage in person.
Once the insurance claims adjuster completes his or her investigation, the adjuster will submit a written recommendation to the insurance company to either accept or reject your claim. If the insurance company accepts your claim, you will receive an initial settlement offer. At this point, you and your attorney can negotiate the value of the settlement until you achieve a fair amount. A lawyer can make sure an insurance company does not take advantage of you or devalue your losses.
The majority of personal injury cases in New Jersey do not go to trial. If the insurance company rejects your claim or fails to offer a fair settlement amount, however, your lawyer can help you with a personal injury trial.
During a trial, your lawyer and the defendant’s lawyer will present each side of the case to a judge and jury. The jury will then decide whether or not to rule in your favor as the plaintiff. A successful trial will result in a jury verdict awarded to you. An unsuccessful trial will find the defendant not liable for your injuries, at which point you may be able to file an appeal.
Hiring a lawyer from the very beginning of your personal injury case can help you successfully work through all of the necessary steps in New Jersey.