Statute of Limitations New Jersey Car Accident
Following a major accident, injured victims need to know the steps to take to protect their legal rights.
The New Jersey statute of limitations for personal injury claims requires you to take legal action within an established period of time. If you fail to file suit within the prescribed period, you could lose your rights to recover compensation for your damages.
If you sustained serious injuries in a motor vehicle accident, a New Jersey car accident lawyer can help protect your legal rights. An experienced attorney understands the importance of taking quick action to file a claim or lawsuit, helping you recover the compensation you deserve.
What Is the New Jersey Statute of Limitations for Auto Accidents?
Under New Jersey state law (N.J. Stat. § 2A:14-2(a)), plaintiffs have two years to file a personal injury claim. If you or your loved one was hurt in an auto accident in New Jersey, you must initiate any legal action within two years of the date of the crash. To be clear, the case does not necessarily need to be resolved within two years — it must simply be filed.
What happens if you violate the statute of limitations for a New Jersey car accident? Your case will almost certainly be dismissed as a matter of state law. In other words, you will not get a chance to have your day in court. You will be denied access to financial compensation that may have otherwise been offered. Protect your rights: contact an experienced New Jersey car accident lawyer immediately after a crash.
Can You Extend the New Jersey Statute of Limitations?
While New Jersey has a strict two-year statute of limitations for auto accident injury claims, there are some limited exceptions to the rule. These exceptions allow for tolling the statute of limitations. Tolling halts the progression of time under the statute until the exception issue is resolved.
Specifically, the key exceptions that could possibly extend our time to file a lawsuit are as follows.
As a general matter, the New Jersey statute of limitations does not run as long as a victim is a minor. If your child was hurt in an accident that occurred before the child achieved the age of 18, then you may have additional time to bring a legal claim. Underage claimants typically have two years from the date of their 18th birthday to take legal action.
If an accident victim had an existing mental disability (i.e., a disability not caused by the injury accident), this may allow for tolling the statute until such time that the victim has the capacity to understand their legal rights.
While this exception is rarely an issue in car accident claims, New Jersey follows the discovery rule. The statute of limitations will not start to run until the victim or their family member knew or should have known about the injuries. In New Jersey, the discovery rule allows victims two full years after they discover an injury to take action, up to a maximum of four years after the date of the accident.
If you cannot serve process on the at-fault party because they are out of state, you may be able to toll the statute until such time as the service can be accomplished. To take advantage of this exception, you or your attorney typically must file an affidavit with the court stating that the defendant cannot be served.
To determine whether these or other exceptions could apply to your case, talk to a car accident attorney as soon as possible. This will help ensure that you don’t inadvertently lose your right to pursue legal action and recover a settlement for your damages.
When Should You Contact a Car Accident Lawyer?
Although the New Jersey statute of limitations provides you with two years to file a lawsuit in civil court, you should take action immediately after a car accident.
Documentation and evidence are imperative for building a persuasive claim and helping you recover a fair settlement for your injuries and other damages. Unfortunately, evidence can be lost or destroyed, and witnesses may not remember the accident as clearly after weeks or months have passed. If you wait too long to seek medical evaluation and treatment, the insurance company may allege that you weren’t seriously injured.
The insurance company might ask you for a recorded statement, which they can use to reduce your settlement or deny your claim. The insurer might also offer you a minimal settlement amount, which won’t be enough to pay for your medical treatment and other damages.
If the insurance company refuses to offer a reasonable settlement, you might need to file a lawsuit to recover compensation. The insurance claim, negotiation, and settlement processes take time, all of which can eat into your two-year limitation.
For these and many other compelling reasons, you should consult with a personal injury attorney immediately. Having an attorney can help ensure that you don’t jeopardize your right to take legal action.
Speak to Our New Jersey Auto Accident Lawyers Today
At O'Connor, Parsons, Lane & Noble, our New Jersey car accident attorneys are strong, committed advocates for injured victims. If you or your family member was hurt in a traffic collision in New Jersey, we are here to help. For a free, completely confidential initial consultation, please do not hesitate to contact our law firm right away. We have offices in Springfield, Newark, Freehold, Paramus, Woodbridge, and Jersey City.