Filing a Claim After a New Jersey Car Accident
When someone is involved in a car accident, one of the fastest ways for that person to get compensated for any resulting injuries or property damage is to report the accident and file an insurance claim. Generally speaking, because New Jersey is one of a dozen states that follows the no fault automobile insurance scheme, oftentimes, people injured in car accidents must report said accidents and file insurance claims with their own insurance carriers even if it was another driver who caused the accident and their injuries. However, in certain scenarios, those injured in car accidents may file what is called a third-party claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance carrier. When this occurs, a representative of the at-fault driver’s insurance carrier who is handling the claim – often called an insurance adjuster – will reach out those who file a third-party claim in order to get a statement from the claimant. Providing a statement to the at-fault driver’s insurance adjuster, however, can adversely impact the strength and value of your claim for a variety of different reasons.
Below, we discuss New Jersey’s automobile insurance scheme and how talking to the at-fault driver’s insurance adjuster can weaken or destroy your claim.
New Jersey’s No-Fault Automobile Insurance Scheme Explained and When a Third-Party Claim can be Filed
As stated above, New Jersey follows what is known as the no-fault insurance scheme. This means that, if a car accident occurs in New Jersey between the state’s residents, then the drivers involved in the crash will have to file insurance claims for the injuries they sustain with their own insurance carriers regardless of who caused the crash. Filing a claim with their own insurance company allows the injured to recoup the cost of medical bills or lost wages an accident caused the injured to accrue. However, depending on the extent of the injuries, if there was property damage in addition to personal injuries, and if the driver has what is called a Basic Policy or a Standard Policy, third-party claims may be filed with the at-fault driver’s insurance carrier.
If injured drivers have the Basic Policy, then they must file insurance claims for injuries they sustain with their own insurance carriers unless the accident caused the injured to suffer one of more of the following injuries:
- Significant disfigurement
- Loss of a body part
- Permanent injury
- Loss of a fetus
- Significant scarring
- A displaced fracture
If injured drivers have the Standard Policy, then they may be permitted to file third-party claims in more scenarios depending on whether they chose the unlimited right to sue option or the limited right to sue option when buying their automobile insurance policy. If the injured chose to have the unlimited right to sue option when buying their automobile policies, then they may file a third-party claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance carrier in almost all cases. If the injured chose the limited right to sue option when buying their automobile policies, then they may only file third-party claims for injuries they sustain if one or more of the injuries constitute one or more of the injuries for which those who have the Basic Policy may file third-party claims.
Regardless of whether people involved in car accidents in New Jersey have the Basic or Standard Policy, those who suffer property damage may always file third-party property damage claims against the at-fault driver.
Consequences of Talking to Insurance Adjusters
Because insurance adjusters are employees of insurance carriers, their goal is to keep the insurance carrier’s profits up by trying to settle claims for as little as possible. Consequently, insurance adjusters will try to use any negative information they can find against you when investigating your claim to either deny your claim altogether or to offer the lowest settlement amount possible. The biggest pieces of ammunition insurance adjusters have against you are often obtained during your initial contacts with the insurance adjuster handling your claim.
Oftentimes, adjusters will ask you to provide a recorded or written statement of the accident and the injuries and property damage you sustained because of the accident. If you provide such a statement and misspeak or there are inconsistencies in the statement you provide and information discovered by the insurance adjuster later on, the insurance adjuster may cite that mistake or point out those inconsistencies when deciding to deny your claim or to offer you a low settlement.
Furthermore, when insurance adjusters speak with you regarding your claim, they may also ask you to sign a medical release, which often encompasses more of your medical records than the ones directly related to the medical treatment you have received because of the injuries you sustained in the car accident. The point of obtaining this type of release is to determine if there are other accidents in your past that the insurance adjuster can claim is the true cause of your injuries and not the car accident currently at-issue. If insurance adjusters are able to point to different injuries in your past as the true cause of your injuries, then they may have enough to, again, deny your claim altogether or offer you a low settlement.
What to Do Before Deciding to Speak with an Insurance Adjuster
Because insurance adjusters are often looking for ways to weaken your claim, it is best to refrain from giving them recorded or written statements concerning the accident and signing medical releases until you are able to consult with an experienced personal injury attorney about your claim. Seasoned personal injury attorneys deal with insurance adjusters on a regular basis and know their tricks when it comes to trying to weaken or destroy claims.
Further, an experienced personal injury attorney will be able to advise you on what types of information will hurt your claim and what types of information will help your case.
Accordingly, an experienced personal injury attorney will be able to advise you on whether, given the facts surrounding your car accident, it is in your best interest to speak with the insurance adjuster handling your claim, and, if so, how to frame your statement so that the insurance adjuster cannot use any of the information provided against you when evaluating your claim.
Contact a Haddonfield Personal Injury Lawyer to Discuss Your Car Accident Case in New Jersey
Did you or a loved one sustain serious injuries due to a car accident in New Jersey? Don’t let the medical bills pile up while you wait for the negligent party or their insurance company to do the right thing. Right now, you need an aggressive personal injury attorney on your side, fighting to get you the compensation you need, want, and deserve. The skilled attorneys at Andres & Berger, P.C. represent clients injured because of car accidents in Haddonfield, Camden, Cherry Hill, Collingswood, and throughout New Jersey. Call (856) 437-4080 or fill out our online contact form to schedule a free consultation about your case. We have an office conveniently located at 264 Kings Highway East, Haddonfield, NJ 08033.
The articles on this blog are for informative purposes only and are no substitute for legal advice or an attorney-client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact our law firm directly.