Rear Ended in "No Fault" State...

by Doris
(Dover, NJ)

A reckless driver rear ended me when I was fully stopped at red light. The impact pushed my vehicle into the car in front of me, which was also stopped at the red light. The accident totaled my car.

The day of the accident I was taken to the emergency room of the hospital. I was not given X-rays but was given pain medication. It has been 9 days since this woman hit me and my back is starting to have a lot of pain. I am planning to see my primary care doctor and ask her to refer me to a specialist to see how this woman's negligence and the accident effected my back.

I live in New Jersey and from what I understand there is a "no fault law" or something of that sort that I don't quite understand. Could you please explain what "No Fault" means. I had zero fault. As this woman's victim, I need to know what my options are, what I can do? Thank you!!

Visitor Question:
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ANSWER for "Rear Ended in "No Fault" State...":

Doris (Dover, NJ):

Automobile insurance companies in the State of New Jersey offer two main forms of "No-Fault" insurance. One form is called a "Basic" policy, and the other, a "Standard" policy. Drivers get to choose which policy best suits their individual needs.

Under the Basic plan your insurance company will provide coverage for your medical expenses, also referred to as "PIP," or your Personal Injury Protection insurance. That coverage will be in an amount you elected to purchase when you purchased your insurance.

The Basic plan is usually the less expensive of the two policies. If you purchased that policy you won't be able to sue the other driver. Instead you will turn to your own insurance company and ask them to reimburse you for your medical bills alone.

Under the Basic policy you don't have to prove the other driver was at-fault. Instead all you have to show is that there was an accident and you were injured. Once the accident occurs your medical bills are paid almost immediately by your insurance company.

There is an exception to the Basic policy. You may be able to sue the person who "rear-ended" you for more than your medical bills. You can also sue for your out of pocket expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. But the exception applies ONLY if the following occurs:

-Significant disfigurement or significant scarring;
-Loss of a fetus;
-Displaced fractures; or
-A permanent injury other than scarring or disfigurement.

In your case the exception won't apply.

The second form of No-Fault insurance in New Jersey is the Standard policy. Under the Standard policy you will pay a higher premium. For that higher premium you will still be compensated or reimbursed for your medical bills, and they will do so without concern for who was at fault.

But you can also sue the driver who rear ended you, presuming she was at-fault, for your out of pocket expenses such as prescription and over the counter medications, lost wages, and even an amount for "pain and Suffering".

To know what your options are look at your insurance policy. See if you carry a "Basic" or "Standard" policy. That information should be contained on the Declaration Page. If not, call your Agent or the Insurance Company.

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from an attorney licensed in your state. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here, or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck,

Judge Calisi

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