The Statute of Limitations in Car Accident Cases

When you’re involved in a New Jersey car accident, the first things you want to focus on are your injuries or property damage. You have to heal from your injuries and figure out how to get your vehicle repaired. Unfortunately, New Jersey law requires you to consider your legal options too. One legal option is filing an insurance claim. This doesn’t require going to court. 

The second legal option is filing a lawsuit in New Jersey civil court. If you choose the second option, the state places limits on how long you have to sue the wrongful party who caused your car accident. This limited time to sue is called the statute of limitations. 

The Basics of New Jersey’s Statute of Limitations 

A statute of limitations refers to a law that places an expiration date on your right to file a lawsuit in civil court. Every state has a statute of limitations law to impose various limitations on different types of civil legal claims. 

The state outlines its statute of limitations in its Code section 2A”14-2. In New Jersey, you have two years from the date of your car accident to file a lawsuit in civil court. This means from the moment you are in a car accident, time is ticking for you to file your lawsuit. That’s why a New Jersey car accident lawyer will file a lawsuit on your behalf immediately. 

The statute of limitations doesn’t mean that your case must be resolved within that two-year period. The lawsuit must be filed within that time. If you don’t file your lawsuit within two years, you’ll be barred from pursuing legal action against the driver who caused your accident. The legal term “barred” means that you can’t sue the other party at all. A judge will not hear your case. Instead, it’s automatically dismissed. 

Your New Jersey Car Accident Lawyer Will Still Negotiate a Settlement 

A settlement is an out-of-court agreement to pay money in exchange for dismissing the case in court. The driver who caused the car accident will pay you, the accident victim, money to dismiss your lawsuit. They may pay you a lump-sum payment or a series of payments. In exchange for receiving payment(s), you must dismiss your lawsuit against them. 

Settlement negotiations often happen before filing a lawsuit. However, your New Jersey car accident lawyer will file your lawsuit and negotiate with the other party to settle the case. If no settlement occurs, then they will present your case in court. 

Filing a Lawsuit or Filing a Claim with Your Auto Insurer 

It’s important to stress that a car insurance claim is different from filing a lawsuit. The insurance claim process starts before filing a lawsuit. It’s important to use the time after your accident wisely by exercising all your legal options. For example, you want to resolve your insurance claim and receive an out-of-court settlement. 

Get Help with Your Car Accident Case in New Jersey 

You were involved in a car accident. You want to focus on your injuries and/or repairing your damaged vehicle. However, New Jersey requires you to focus on all of your legal options. This means that you should speak to a car accident lawyer as soon as you can about your accident. You need to explore all options ranging from filing an insurance claim to filing a lawsuit. Also, contact a car accident lawyer to understand more about the state’s statute of limitations and whether there are any exceptions to the law.