New Jersey Personal Injury Laws & Statutory Rules
New Jersey laws on personal injury lawsuits. Learn about the time limits to file, compensation available, fault and liability rules, and more.
In this article, we’ll provide an in-depth look at the New Jersey laws that could come into play after an injury -- whether you’re involved in an insurance settlement or a personal injury lawsuit.
Time Limits for Personal Injury Lawsuits in New Jersey
All states have limits on the amount of time you have to file a lawsuit in the civil court system after you’ve suffered some type of harm. There are different deadlines depending on the type of case you’re asking the court to hear. This kind of law is called a statute of limitations.
In New Jersey, the statute of limitations for personal injury cases gives an injured person two years from the date of the injury to go to court and file a lawsuit against those responsible for the injury.
It’s very important to understand and abide by this law because, if you fail to get your lawsuit filed before the two-year window closes, the New Jersey court system will likely refuse to hear your case at any time in the future, and your right to compensation will be lost.
The New Jersey statute of limitations on personal injury cases can be found at New Jersey Code section 2A:14-2.
New Jersey Shared Fault Laws
In some personal cases, the party you’re trying to hold responsible for your injuries may claim that you're actually to blame (at least partially).
If you do share some level of liability, it can end up affecting the total amount of compensation you can receive from other at-fault parties.
In shared fault injury cases, New Jersey follows a “modified comparative negligence rule.” To put this rule in the simplest of terms, it means that the amount of compensation you're entitled to receive will be reduced by an amount that is equal to your percentage of fault for the accident. But if you’re found to bear more than 50 percent of the legal blame, you can’t collect anything at all from other at-fault parties.
So, let’s say you’re rear-ended at a stoplight, but one of your four brake lights wasn’t working at the time of the accident. During a civil trial, the jury decides that you were 15 percent at fault for the accident, while the other driver was 85 percent to blame. Your damages -- injuries, vehicle damage, etc. -- add up to $10,000. How does your share of the fault affect your compensation? Under New Jersey's modified comparative negligence rule, your compensation will be reduced to $8,500 (or the $10,000 total minus the $1,500 that represents your share of fault for the accident.)
New Jersey courts are obligated to follow this rule in an injury lawsuit that makes it to trial, and don't be surprised if the adjuster raises the issue of New Jersey’s comparative negligence rule during settlement talks.
No-Fault Rule for Car Accident Cases
In car accident cases only, New Jersey's "no-fault" system means injury claims must be made against your own insurance policy, unless you can show that your injuries meet the "serious injury" threshold. This limits your options to demand compensation for pain and suffering, but expedites the payment of most claims. For more on this issue, see How No-Fault Car Accident Claims Work.
Caps on Injury Damages in New Jersey
Some states place limits on the kinds of damages that an injured person can receive in a court case.
The only relevant New Jersey law to discuss under this section 2A:15-5.14 of the New Jersey Code, which caps punitive damages in injury cases at five times the amount of compensatory damages or $350,000, whichever is greater. But it's likely that this law won't affect your case, since punitive damages are very rarely awarded. Learn more about punitive damages in injury cases.
"Strict" Liability for Dog Bite/Attack Cases
In many states, dog owners are protected (to some degree) from injury liability the first time their dog injures someone if they had no reason to believe the dog was dangerous. This is often called a "one bite" rule. In New Jersey however, a specific statute (N.J. Stat. Ann. § 4:19-16) makes the owner "strictly liable", meaning regardless of the animal's past behavior, the dog owner is responsible for a personal injury caused by his/her dog. Specifically, the statute reads:
“The owner of any dog” [which bites someone] “in a public place, or lawfully on or in a private place, including the property of the owner of the dog, shall be liable for such damages as may be suffered by the person bitten, regardless of the former viciousness of such dog or the owner’s knowledge of such viciousness.”
Injury Claims Against the Government in New Jersey
If your injury occurred due to the negligence of an employee or agency of the New Jersey government (at the state level), you’ll need to follow a different set of rules if you want to get compensation for your losses. You’ll need to file a formal claim with the state government within 90 days of your injury. After that, you’ll have to wait six months to file a lawsuit (assuming the government hasn’t reached out to resolve your claim. And you must file the lawsuit, in any case, within two years of your injury. (You’ll find plenty of background information on these kinds of cases in our Injury Claims Against the Government area.)