How Long Will a New Jersey Personal Injury Case Take?

Sudden unexpected injuries are more than just painful and traumatic—they can also send your life spinning off course into a temporary or permanent new direction. Serious injuries often cause financial hardship for the whole family by preventing a prompt return at the same time that new medical bills begin piling up. As distressing as any injury may be, when someone else caused the harm by a negligent or reckless action, it compounds the anguish with a sense of injustice. Though nothing can undo the injury or erase the painful experience, a successful personal injury claim can help recover damages as well as a sense of justice for the injury. “Damages” in a personal injury case refers to the economic consequences of an injury as well as the pain and suffering the victim experiences.

No matter how beneficial a personal injury claim can be, taking on the insurance system and personal injury law in New Jersey is a daunting task while you’re also facing the ramifications of recovering from a serious injury. Understanding the timeline of the personal injury claim process in New Jersey may help you apply it to your unique case so you have a better idea of what to expect.

How Long Will a New Jersey Personal Injury Case Take?

First, Do You Have a Case for Liability in a New Jersey Personal Injury Claim?

New Jersey’s no-fault insurance laws can streamline the process of gaining compensation for some injuries, but this is primarily effective for smaller claims for property damage and minor injuries. For personal injury claims with more serious consequences, the insurance company of the victim may cover only a small portion of the damages—often by assigning the victim a portion of fault in the injury that they don’t deserve.

If you or a loved one was hurt in a car accident, slip-and-fall accident, a dog attack, by a defective product, or in any other way that directly results from the actions or negligence of another party, it might be time to file a personal injury lawsuit in New Jersey—especially if your insurance company left you with thousands of dollars of unpaid medical bills and lost wages. You have a case for liability under the following circumstances:

  • The party at fault owed you a duty of care to take reasonable measures to prevent injury, such as a driver’s duty to follow traffic laws or a manufacturer’s duty to produce safe products
  • They breached this duty through an act of negligence, recklessness, or wrongdoing
  • The breach of duty directly caused your injury
  • You suffered significant damages from the injury.

If this is the case in your injury, it’s time to speak to a Cherry Hill personal injury attorney in your area with a strong track record of success in cases similar to yours.

Beginning the Personal Injury Process in New Jersey

The personal injury claim process begins after you’ve notified the appropriate insurance company of your injury. In New Jersey, it’s always worthwhile to first hire a personal injury attorney to determine if your own insurance company should pay out on your damages according to the state’s no-fault insurance law—for instance, after a car accident—or if you should file a claim against the insurance policy of a negligent party like a store owner in a slip-and-fall injury. Remember, reputable personal injury attorneys charge nothing upfront and only take a fee after they secure your settlement or jury award for damages.

Gathering Evidence For a Faster Personal Injury Process

Many personal injury victims ask up front how long the personal injury claim will take in their case. In most claims, the answer depends on how much evidence is available to prove the negligent party’s liability for your injury. Gathering evidence immediately after the injury and taking other steps to protect your physical and financial future makes the process proceed far more quickly. Evidence you can document after an injury includes the following:

  • Photos of your visible injuries at the scene or immediately after
  • Photos of anything relevant to your injury, such as a wet floor in a restaurant or damaged vehicles in an accident
  • Videos of the accident or incident if it was captured on surveillance or security cameras
  • The contact information of anyone else involved and eyewitnesses to the accident or injury
  • A police report or accident report
  • A detailed medical report from the provider who treated you after your initial injury and any reports from specialists with your treatment recommendations and prognosis

If you and your attorney have sufficient evidence that your injury was caused by someone else’s actions or reckless inaction, a skilled attorney can send a strong, evidence-backed demand package to the appropriate insurance company with evidence of the at-fault party’s liability and a list of carefully calculated damages.

How Long Does it Take to Get a Settlement After a Personal Injury in New Jersey?

Once you and your lawyer have sent a demand package with ample evidence of the at-fault party’s liability as well as your medical costs, lost wages, and other related expenses, the insurance company then signs an adjuster to the case. The insurance adjuster’s job is to minimize the amount they pay you by investigating the injury to look for ways they can assign a portion of the fault to you as well as other common tactics to undervalue a claim or deny it completely. Having enough convincing evidence on your side is the key to a faster process.

Once an adjuster evaluates your claim, investigates the injury, and examines the evidence, they’ll typically make a settlement offer. This may take anywhere from a couple of weeks to months, depending on the strength of your evidence. Most first offers are insufficient, so you and your attorney may decide to counter the settlement offer with a demand for a higher amount. Negotiations may take several more weeks before you decide to accept the best possible offer. Otherwise, if the insurance company fails to offer an acceptable amount of compensation, it’s time to take the case to court in a lawsuit.

How Long Does a Lawsuit Take for a Personal Injury Case in New Jersey?

Most lawsuits take a few weeks to several months to complete. The process involves a period of discovery in which each side examines the other’s evidence and makes requests for documents. Then, the court sets a date for a trial. Depending on the complexity of the case and the amount of evidence, the trial may take as little as a few hours up to several days. In the end, a jury decides on the amount of money the insurance company must pay out on your damages. If your side was unsuccessful at presenting evidence, the jury may side with the insurance company. In most cases, a positive jury award for damages is a higher amount than you’d receive in a settlement, even though the process takes longer.

What Kind of Compensation Can I Receive for My Injury?

Damages in personal injury claims may include any or all of the following:

  • Past and future medical expenses
  • Lost wages and future income loss
  • Diminished earning capacity due to disabling injuries
  • Pain and suffering
  • PTSD, trauma, anxiety, depression, or compensation for disfigurement or loss of enjoyment of life

The choices you make during your injury case can impact how long the personal injury process takes in New Jersey, including the number of times you attempt negotiations with the insurance company, and the amount of evidence you present in your case.