UPDATED MAY 29, 2019
Frequently, clients come to use after being injured through no fault of their own and they assume that we will be able to recover compensation for their pain and suffering, bills, lost wages, etc. However, there are certain situations when it is essentially impossible for an accident victim to receive any money for their injuries, even though someone else was clearly at fault. Below we will discuss some of these situations.Related: Personal Injury, Premises liability and fall-down accidents, Car accidents, How do I know if I need a lawyer?, Can I sue if I am partially at fault?, Hurt by a business that is now out of business
New Jersey Accidents Caused by Those Without Insurance
Probably the most common situation when an innocent victim will have to walk away with nothing is when there is no one who is able to write a check. Most individuals and families do not have sufficient money to pay a significant settlement or judgment. And sometimes businesses do not have sufficient money, either. The person or business that is at fault is not going to be the party who will pay for the injuries. Rather, a claim will be made with their insurance companies. However, if the person or company does not have any insurance, or if their insurance does not cover the type of accident or injury that occurred, then the victim, who was hurt through no fault of their own, will likely not be able to collect anything. It is unfortunate, but sometimes people chose not to purchase insurance (which may be illegal) or they purchase insurance that does not cover most types of claims. And if their is no insurance, often the person or business does not have any money or assets to collect and the victim is stuck. Sometimes there is nothing a person can do to guard against this, but in the case of car accidents, drivers can purchase Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist coverage, which will pay the claim if the person who is really at fault does not have insurance or has too little insurance.
On a related note, there are also certain cases where the person or company at fault simply cannot be identified. This is rare, but sometimes it is completely clear that a person was injured due to negligence, but we just do not know who the negligent person is. A good lawyer will be able to investigate a case fully and identify all potentially negligent parties. And a good lawyer can use the various legal arguments to prosecute a claim when it is not clear who is at fault. But from time to time it is not possible to know. For example, an electrician may have been completely negligent in performing electrical work and caused someone to be electrocuted. But it there were no permits filed with the town and there is no paperwork showing who that electrician was, there wouldn’t be a way to collect any money from the electrician or their insurance company (if there is one).
New Jersey Laws That Prohibit Victim Compensation
Another category of cases that we frequently see is when clients are injured, but they cannot recover because the law literally prohibits a recovery in those cases (known by some as “tort reform”, these laws are heavily advocated by insurance companies so they can make more money by paying for fewer claims). In the area of car accidents, most people in New Jersey are barred from recovery under the Limitation on Lawsuit option that they selected when purchasing their insurance. This option states that drivers are charged a discount on their policy but may not recover for car accident injuries unless they suffered death, dismemberment, loss of fetus, significant scarring and/or disfigurement, a displaced fracture, or a permanent injury based on objective medical evidence. For example, a driver could be completely drunk, drives through a red light, hits a pedestrian, and breaks 4 ribs. Unless one of those rib fractures is displaced, the completely innocent victim cannot win a lawsuit against the completely negligent drunk driver.
These laws are not restricted to car accident cases. Municipalities are protected against all types of lawsuits under Title 59 immunity. Those are laws that essentially say that a person can never sue a municipality, municipal employee, or private contractor carrying out a municipal function unless the law specifically allows those entities to be sued. And the law only allows such a lawsuit in certain situations and usually the injury must be a permanent loss of a bodily function with a substantial life impact. For lawsuits where there is a dangerous condition of some kind, there are stringent notice requirements. And in certain categories of cases, municipalities may never be sued no matter what. There are also similar laws, which in certain cases, protect drug manufacturers, hospitals, and manufacturers of certain products. The bottom line is that a completely innocent accident victim may be legally barred from recovery regardless of how negligent the tortfeasor was.
New Jersey Personal Injury Lawyer – Free Consultation With a Skilled Attorney
Remember, the insurance companies have teams of adjusters and attorneys who will do all that they legally can to avoid compensating injured people. We have been representing injured individuals and their families since 1922 and we are very familiar with dealing with their tactics. If you have any question or you or a loved one were injured, please do not hesitate to contact us for a 100% free consultation.
Raff & Raff, LLP
Attorneys at Law
30 Church Street
Paterson, NJ 07505
Tel: (973) 742-1917
Fax: (973) 742-2454