Though it may be clear that the distracted driver caused the car accident because he was texting on the phone, which is prohibited pursuant to NJ law, your right to file a lawsuit depends on 2 things:
- the type of NJ car insurance policy you have, and
- the extent of your injuries.
See related NJ car accident injury article: NJ Car & Bus Accident Lawyer Discusses Serious Accidents and Fatalities Caused by the Use of Cell Phones While Driving
Pursuant to New Jersey’s Automobile Insurance Cost Reduction Act (AICRA), if you chose “no limitation on lawsuit” or “verbal threshold” on your car insurance policy when you purchased it, you are not able to sue for non-economic damages, i.e., pain and suffering.
However, there are limited situations where drivers with “no limitation on lawsuit”/”no verbal threshold” on their car insurance policies may sue the negligent driver if their injuries fall within one of 6 injury categories set out under New Jersey car accident law:
(3) loss of a fetus;
(4) significant disfigurement or scarring;
(5) displaced fractures; or
(6) permanent injury.
Obviously, the first injury category does not apply in your case. However, if your injuries fall within the other 5 categories, you may be able to sue the distracted driver for your injuries.
One thing to keep in mind is that if you believe you suffer permanent injuries, medical proof is key in overcoming the threshold. What constitutes a permanent injury is often debated between parties in a NJ car accident lawsuit; therefore, a careful workup and medical documentation are important in proving permanent injury. Injuries that get better with medical treatment are not considered permanent.
One recent, interesting development in New Jersey case law is that you may also be able to sue the person texting the driver who caused the accident. In a recent New Jersey car accident lawsuit caused by a distracted driver who was texting, the court stated that the person who is texting with the distracted driver may bear some legal liability if he/she knows the other person is driving at the time. http://www.judiciary.state.nj.us/opinions/a1128-12.pdf
For more information about this recent case law involving NJ distracted driving accidents, see Texting a New Jersey Driver Who Causes a Car Accident? You May be at Fault Too
Help After a NJ Car Accident Caused by a Distracted Driver. FREE CONSULTATIONS. 800.281.8695
Philip Ciprietti has been helping injured victims for over 35 years and has helped many car, bus and truck accident victims in NJ. If you were injured in a car, truck or bus accident on the NJ Turnpike, AC Expressway or other New Jersey highways, feel free to contact Phil T. Ciprietti, Esquire for a free initial consultation. 800.281.8695
*Disclaimer: Every case is unique and you should not take any action or make decisions in your case without speaking to a qualified car and truck accident lawyer in New Jersey. This website page does not provide legal advice or create an attorney-client relationship. Use of the contact form on this website or emailing Mr. Ciprietti does not create any attorney-client relationship. In addition, confidential information should not be sent through the contact form.