Cherry Hill Personal Injury Lawyer
If you have been involved in an accident, you may be able to seek compensation through a personal injury lawsuit, even if you were partially at fault. A Cherry Hill personal injury lawyer can help you to maximize your financial recovery following an accident. Whether you have been injured in an auto accident, slip and fall, motorcycle accident, or as a result of medical malpractice or a dangerous product, understanding how a personal injury case works, including the judicial process, the potential damages recoverable, the basics of no-fault insurance in New Jersey, and the importance of the statute of limitations, will go a long way to giving you peace of mind following an injury and will help you to make an informed decision about whether to proceed with a lawsuit.
New Jersey Fault Insurance System
New Jersey is a no-fault insurance state, meaning that if you are in a car accident your insurance company is responsible for paying certain damages resulting from the accident, regardless of who is at fault. No-fault medical coverage, referred to as Personal Injury Protection (PIP), does not cover damages for pain and suffering. Compensation for pain and suffering following a car accident may be sought through a personal injury lawsuit.
Seeking Financial Compensation with the Help of a Cherry Hill Personal Injury Lawyer
If your injuries were caused by the negligence or wrongful conduct of another, Cherry Hill injury law allows you to seek compensation through a personal injury lawsuit. This is true even if you were partially at fault. New Jersey’s Comparative Negligence Act provides that a plaintiff can recover damages in a lawsuit, so long as plaintiff’s negligence “was not greater than the negligence of the person against whom recovery is sought.” However, any damages shall be reduced by the percentage that the plaintiff was negligent. What this means is that if a jury finds that plaintiff suffered $100,000 in damages in an accident, but finds that plaintiff is 49% responsible for the accident and the defendant 51% responsible, the plaintiff would recover $51,000. However, if the jury found plaintiff to be 51% responsible, and the defendant only 49%, plaintiff’s recovery would be $0.
Recoverable Money Damages in a Personal Injury Action
There are several categories of damages you may be able recover following an accident, including: economic damages (such as medical expenses and lost income), noneconomic damages (for your pain and suffering), and, in rare cases, punitive damages (involving egregious conduct). There is no cap in New Jersey on the amount of economic or noneconomic damages a plaintiff may recover in a personal injury action. New Jersey caps the amount of punitive damages at $350,000 or five times the defendant’s liability for compensatory damages, whichever is greater. For example, if the jury returns a verdict of $100,000 and awards punitive damages, the amount of punitive damages can be up to $500,000.
New Jersey Injury Law: The Path of a Personal Injury Case
Although every case is unique, our Cherry Hill personal injury lawyer knows that there are certain procedural aspects of every personal injury case that are the same. The first step in a personal injury case is when your attorney files a document with the court called a complaint. The complaint, referred to as a “pleading,” sets out the basics of your claims in the case. Each claim, whether for negligence, wrongful death, or medical malpractice, is called a “cause of action.” The complaint’s purpose is to give the party or parties sued (the “defendants”) notice of the claims against them. After the complaint is filed with the court, it must be delivered or “served” on the defendants.
The next step is for the defendants to respond with a pleading called the answer. In addition to admitting or denying the claims against them, the answer sets forth any defenses that may apply, as well as any claims the defendants have against each other (“cross-claims”) or against you (“counterclaims”).
After the complaint and answer have been exchanged, the case proceeds to what will likely be the most time-consuming portion of the case -- discovery. This is when documents are exchanged, depositions are taken, and the parties gather facts and evidence about the case. As the plaintiff, you will be the first to sit for a deposition. Your attorney will ensure that you will be well-prepared for questioning by the defense attorney, and will be sitting by your side throughout the deposition.
Depending on the complexity of the case, the number of parties, as well as the nature and extent of your injuries, discovery in a personal injury case can take months or even years.
Once discovery is complete, there are several possible scenarios for your case. Either settlement negotiations will take place – this can even happen during discovery – or the case will be prepared for trial. In some cases, the defense will submit what is called a motion for summary judgment, which argues that the case should be dismissed without going to trial because there is no “genuine issue as to any material fact,” meaning that even if the court looks at the evidence in the light most favorable to you, the evidence does not support a claim.
A Word About the Statute of Limitations
For most personal injury cases in New Jersey, the statute of limitations is two years from the date of the occurrence. In medical malpractice cases, if the case is brought on behalf of a minor for a birth injury, the action must be commenced prior to the minor’s 13th birthday. Importantly, New Jersey also applies a “discovery rule” in medical malpractice cases, which provides that the two-year clock does not start until you know (or a “reasonable person” in your position should have known) about the injury. Examples of this include discovery of a foreign object, such as gauze, sponge, or needle left in your body after a procedure. In this scenario, if you do not discovery the foreign object for three years after having surgery, the statute of limitations does not start to run until the discovery, rather than from the date of the surgery.
If you are thinking about bringing a personal injury case, early consultation with an attorney is essential.
How a Proven and Thorough Cherry Hill Personal Injury Lawyer Can Help
If you are a loved one has been injured, and you are considering a personal injury lawsuit, we welcome you to contact Folkman Law Offices, P.C. at (856) 354-9444 for a free consultation.