New Jersey Car Accident Pain & Suffering Damages

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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Written by Jeffrey Johnson
Insurance Lawyer Jeffrey Johnson

UPDATED: Jul 14, 2021

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Damages are generally defined as the amount of money that is provided to compensate someone who has been harmed by another’s wrongdoing or negligence. How damages and compensation are handled in an auto accident depends upon where the accident occurred. States differ on how they handle these issues. Some states operate under a’tort liability’ system, where a determination is first made about who was at fault for the accident. Damages and compensation are then addressed once the fault issue is settled. In a’no-fault’ state, fault is not necessarily considered important. No-fault states typically (though not always) require all drivers to be self-insured for personal injuries incurred in an auto accident. Each driver is covered by his or her own insurance, regardless of fault, unless serious injuries are involved. New Jersey offers both the tort liability and no-fault options for its drivers. Thus it is called a’choice’ state (see below). There are two broad categories of damages available in car accident cases: Economic and Non-Economic. Damages for pain and suffering fall into the non-economic category. Following is a break-down of the types of harm covered under economic and non-economic damages:

In auto accident cases, economic damages may include: (New Jersey Permanent Statutes Database, Chapter 39, Section 39:6A-2k) may include:

Medical expenses
Lost income
Lost property
Other monetary losses

Non-economic damages (New Jersey Permanent Statutes Database, Chapter 39, Section 39:6A-2i) may include:

Pain and suffering

If you are a New Jersey driver, you must have some form of auto insurance. New Jersey is a’choice’ state, meaning drivers are given a choice to either opt for a basic no-fault auto insurance policy or choose a standard policy that gives them the option to preserve their right to sue for pain and suffering. If you choose the basic policy, your insurer will cover your medical expenses (called PIP coverage) up to the policy limit, but will limit your right to sue for pain and suffering for all but the most serious injuries (see below). The standard coverage provides an option to preserve your right to sue for pain and suffering, even for minor injuries, for an increased premium. Your damages benefits are also more flexible under the standard policy. Under the standard policy, you may opt for additional benefits, such as income continuation, essential services, death benefits, funeral expenses, and uninsured/underinsured coverage (for an increased premium of course). Most New Jersey drivers opt for the standard policy.

“Under the basic policy, New Jersey no-fault drivers give up their right to sue for pain and suffering caused by all but the most serious personal injuries sustained in a car accident. If your accident results in death, dismemberment, significant disfigurement or significant scarring, displaced fracture, loss of a fetus, or a permanent injury within a reasonable degree of medical probability, other than scarring or disfigurement, New Jersey’s no-fault law would allow you or your personal representative to sue the at-fault party to recover non-economic damages above and beyond your standard no-fault coverage. An injury is permanent if the injured body part or organ has not and will not heal to function normally, even with further medical treatment. In such a lawsuit, the jury would determine, using their best judgment, how much to award in damages. To see how juries go about this task, see How do insurance companies and juries assign values to pain and suffering?


Document Your Pain and Suffering Claim (Checklist): A checklist that helps you document your economic and non-economic damages. An essential tool to help you prove and record your pain and suffering claim.

New Jersey Motor Vehicle No-Fault Law: Text for the current New Jersey no-fault law can be found in the New Jersey Permanent Statutes Database under Title 39, Section 39:6A-8. We’d provide a direct link from here, but unfortunately the database makes it impossible to do so. Simply use the New Jersey Permanent Statutes Database link and search for the Title and Section number given above.

New Jersey Department of Banking and Insurance: New Jersey’s official insurance regulation site offers news, alerts, and consumer insurance information. Check out the Automobile Insurance section.

Everything You Wanted to Know About Auto Insurance (New Jersey Department of Banking and Insurance): A consumer-friendly publication that explains the basics of New Jersey’s standard and basic auto insurance policies and optional coverages that may be of

Free Advice Auto Insurance Center: Articles, FAQ, free quotes and research links.

Back to New Jersey Car Accident Resources and Statutes.

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