Although New Jersey Laws Require All Drivers to Carry Car Insurance, Still Some Drivers are Uninsured, Meaning More Complications to Deal with if You are in an Accident with One
Getting into an accident is a stressful and emotionally draining process, even more so if you or people in your car were seriously injured. Accidents are scary, and it is easy to become confused at that moment. But the other driver’s insurance will cover it, and everything will be fine in just a few days, right? Unfortunately, many drivers are uninsured or underinsured, and due to this, you may face a more arduous journey to recover damages. It is vital to seek counsel from an experienced auto accident lawyer who can sort out the problem of being involved in an accident with a driver who doesn’t hold the sufficient insurance coverage to compensate you for your injuries and damages. At Cohen & Riechelson, with offices in Trenton, New Jersey, we can help you receive the fair financial compensation you deserve.
What is the Minimum Coverage Requirement in NJ?
New Jersey requires two types of liability coverage: property damage and bodily injury. Property damage covers the damage you may cause to the property or vehicle of the other person. In contrast, bodily injury covers certain expenses when physical harm to another party. It also covers your legal fees if a lawsuit is brought against you. Both kinds of coverage protect your assets if the responsibility for the accident falls on you. The minimum underinsured or uninsured drivers insurance coverage requirement is $15,000 per person up to $30,000 per accident and $5,000 for property damage to the other person.
What Does it Mean to Be Underinsured?
To keep all drivers on the road insured, New Jersey offers a program that requires drivers to buy insurance that provides less protection than regular insurance inexpensively. The caveat is the policy covers only the driver’s injuries or property damage. Suppose the driver is in an accident with another vehicle and is at fault for the accident. In that case, likely, their insurance coverage will not be sufficient to pay for the damages to that other driver.
Under-insured coverage means the person at fault for the accident does not have enough insurance coverage to pay for the other party’s damages. Damages include missed work, medical bills, pain and suffering, property damage outside of the vehicles involved in the accident, traumatic injuries to you or other passengers, and your car is totaled or has extensive damage.
The Purpose of Underinsured/Uninsured Motorist Coverage in NJ
When you buy underinsured or uninsured motorist coverage, you decide the amount of coverage you would like. The only exception is that your coverage limit is only as high as the amount of liability insurance you presently hold. For example, if your insurance policy covers liability for up to $100,000, that is how much you have available when purchasing uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. That being said, you are not obligated to buy that amount and match your liability amount, but it is always a good idea to make sure you have sufficient insurance.
Examples of Accidents with Uninsured or Underinsured Drivers
Case A: Donny pulled out onto West Front Street after having lunch at the Smokehouse BBQ when he was rear-ended by a motorist who drove around him and left the scene. Donny can file for Underinsured driver coverage to recoup his losses.
Case B: Margie is on Greenwood Avenue, turning left to go to the Lukoil gas station, when she is hit on the driver’s side by a young lady who was trying to pass her before she turned. Margie’s car has a lot of damage, and the other driver’s car is totaled. Margie has some pretty severe leg and back injuries. Margie was not found at fault for the accident. Her liability coverage is $100,000. The other driver’s insurance coverage is $25,000, so Margie can file for underinsured drivers coverage for the additional $75,000.
Case C: Ronny’s car was stolen from in front of his house. The thieves not only absconded with his vehicle, but they crashed it into another vehicle at the stoplight down the road. Ronny’s insurance will not pay for the damage because the car was uninsured at the time, seeing as the driver didn’t have Ronny’s permission to drive the vehicle. The other motorist will have to file for Uninsured Driver coverage to gain the damages caused to their car.
Steps to Seek Compensation after an Uninsured or Underinsured Motorist Accident in NJ
If the motorist who caused the accident is found legally responsible, you can file an underinsured/uninsured claim for damages and injuries if they do not have coverage at all or if their insurance coverage is not enough to cover your expenses. Remember, your coverage cannot exceed the amount of liability you have with your insurance provider. Also, New Jersey has a Comparative Negligence Law that states that it would affect your award if you were at fault for the accident. For example, if you submit $10,000 to your insurance company as an Uninsured motorist claim, but they find you 30% responsible, they would pay $7,000.
Filing a claim doesn’t necessarily mean you will get the amount you ask for. Insurance companies are making money, which is something they couldn’t do if they just wrote a check every time someone asked them to. But you have a right to seek a recovery for lost wages, medical expenses, and pain and suffering.
Securing Maximum Compensation For Your Accident
When an uninsured or underinsured driver causes an accident, the damages still need to be paid. Just because your insurance company is arranging the settlement, that doesn’t mean that their offer has your best interests in mind. Frequently, insurance companies will lowball their request in the hopes that you will take it, afraid you cannot get what you deserve. An accident lawyer can help gather evidence and work on your case to ensure your insurance company treats you justly.
Speak to Our Trenton Uninsured & Under-Insured Accident Attorneys in a Free Consultation
At Cohen & Riechelson, our personal injury team has the experience and drive to go to bat for you. Sometimes lawyers settle for the first offer, but we won’t stop until we know you receive total and fair compensation. Our firm has the resources to do whatever it takes to achieve the best outcome, as we have working with clients in Princeton, Hamilton, Burlington, Ewing, and towns across Mercer County and New Jersey.
To speak with a lawyer at our firm about your underinsured or uninsured motorist accident, call us today at (609) 528-2596 for your confidential, free consultation.