Automobile Accident FAQ
Attorney - Robert A. Scirocco
  1. Home
  2.  → 
  3. Personal Injury
  4.  → Automobile Accident FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions About Motor Vehicle Accidents

What Is The Best Way To Pursue Compensation For Car Accident Injuries?

In New Jersey, insurance consumers have a choice between two types of coverage for accident-related bodily injury. One option, called the “limitation on lawsuit option,” involves a lower yearly premium but restricts recovery related to “noneconomic loss” injuries. This means that in a lawsuit for damages, an individual injured in a car accident can only recover money for certain bodily injuries such as death, dismemberment, significant disfigurement or scarring, displaced fractures, loss of a fetus, and other certain permanent injuries.

Given these broad categories, it is often unclear whether an individual is permitted to bring a lawsuit under this statute. For instance, although someone can pursue a lawsuit for a rib injury, they cannot do so for a mere chipped or broken tooth. The New Jersey Supreme Court has held that a person who lost tips of two of her teeth was not eligible to proceed with a lawsuit under the “limitation on lawsuit option” insurance. According to the court, broken or chipped teeth are not “fractures” as the term is medically defined.

Thus, if you have been injured in a car accident, and wish to proceed with a lawsuit, you must 1) check whether you have the “limitation on lawsuit option insurance” and, if so, 2) determine whether your injuries allow you to proceed with litigation.

What Do I Need To Know About Assessment Of Auto Property Damage?

What often is very frustrating to the owner of a car involved in any accident is the recovery of full value for the vehicle’s loss. The recent case of Financial Services Vehicle Trust vs. James Panter, et al., a 2019 appellate division addressed this issue.

In an extremely well-written opinion by Judge Fisher, he noted that “property owners often seek compensation by presenting only evidence about the cost of repair.” But there is often more to damages than just that. A vehicle becomes less valuable “because of the stigma of having once been damaged … With the advent of databases such as CarFax, the consuming public now has the ability to learn whether a vehicle wears the ‘scarlet letter’ of an accident history.”

Experts on car values would typically then be needed to “persuade the factfinder with competent and admissible evidence that the vehicle’s value has been decreased by this stigma.” – State Farm

Is Arbitration The Only Way To Settle PIP Benefit Disputes?

Yes. The recent case of Indemnity Company v. National Liability & Fire Insurance Company (App. Div.) addressed this issue. In an inter-company arbitration between insurers over PIP benefit contributions, all issues, including coverage disputes, are to be decided by the arbitrator. The plaintiff here properly proceeded with an order to show cause in an action to enforce the arbitration award.

What About Uninsured Motorists?

In the recent case of Badiali v. New Jersey Manufacturers Insurance, Augustine Badiali was awarded over $29,000 in an uninsured motorist arbitration claim. New Jersey Manufacturers Insurance (NJM) was responsible for $14,500 of the award, but rejected it and demanded a trial de novo. The New Jersey Supreme Court ruled that NJM’s rejection of the award was not bad faith because a previous unpublished court opinion gave the insurer fair reason to believe that it was making a legitimate business decision.

Who Is Liable In A Texting While Driving Case?

In an interesting personal injury case, the court recently held that a “person sending text messages has a duty not to text someone who is driving if the texter knows or has special reason to know, the recipient will view the text while driving.”

The court also noted that criminal penalties now exist “for those who are distracted by use of a cell phone while driving” and who injure others as a result of the distraction. Under this new legislation, specifically NJSA 2C:12-1(c)(1), the jury can infer that a driver is guilty of the fourth-degree crime of assault by auto if someone is seriously injured while the driver is using a hand-held device.

In the case of Kubert v. Best, the appellate division ruled that although the driver of a pick-up truck who caused serious injuries while on his cell phone was liable, there was not enough proof to demonstrate that his girlfriend, who most likely was texting him at the time, was aware of the fact that he was driving and likely knew that he would be distracted by her text. Thus, the case against the girlfriend was dismissed. There will, however, most likely be occasions when this issue again arises, and the facts demonstrate that the sender of the text was very well aware that the recipient was driving and thus was creating an extremely hazardous situation.

Contact Us For A Consultation

Personal injury claims are complex. Call Robert A. Scirocco and Associates Counselors at Law at 973-691-1188 to discuss your car accident injuries. Our experienced team can answer your questions and help you get the compensation you deserve following a motor vehicle accident. You can also reach us online.