Insurance companies in New Jersey have between 40 and 100 days to settle a claim after it is filed, depending on the type of claim. For all claims, insurers have 10 working days to acknowledge the claim and send the necessary paperwork.
Timeframes for Settling Insurance Claims in New Jersey
All claims: 10 business days to acknowledge the claim
First-party claims: 30 days to investigate and make a payment
There are several factors that can affect exactly how long it takes for an insurance company to settle a claim. For example, claims involving serious or multiple injuries take longer to settle. Additionally, poor communication between the driver, insurance company, and insurance adjuster can slow down the process.
Still, you are entitled to an efficient settlement. If you think that your insurance company is violating the law or operating unethically, you can file a “bad faith” lawsuit, which may award you the original settlement amount with added interest and penalties.
It usually takes 30 days for insurance to pay out after a car accident. Most car insurance companies try to resolve accident claims as quickly as possible, which typically leads to a payout within a month of a claim being filed. However, it might take longer depending on several factors, including the state, the type of claim being filed, and the severity of damage or injuries.… read full answer
Some states have specific laws dictating how long an insurance company has to make a ruling and pay out on a claim. For example, insurers in California have 40 days to accept or deny a claim and 30 days to issue payment once the settlement has been accepted. And in Texas, insurers must decide on a claim within 45 days and make the payment within five days of approval.
Not all states provide exact timeframes, though. In Massachusetts, for example, insurance companies must pay claims where fault is clear within a “prompt and reasonable” period of time.
Factors That Affect the Claim Timeline
State timeframes for insurance claims (some states are stricter than others)
Type of claim being filed (bodily injury takes longer than property damage)
Extent of physical damage or injuries (severe accidents can take a long time to settle)
Communication between drivers, insurance companies, and adjusters (slow communication delays the claim timeline)
Understanding of policy and coverage (you might think your policy covers you in a situation when it really doesn’t)
Ability to pay insurance deductible (your insurance company won’t pay out until you’ve paid your deductible)
In particular, the type of claim being filed and the extent of the physical damage or injuries involved can significantly impact the payout timeline. Bodily injury claims take the longest to settle because multiple parties are involved, including your doctor, the car insurance company, and your health insurance provider.
Injury settlements usually have to wait until the patient has reached the point of maximum medical improvement (MMI). This is when an individual has made a full recovery or has a full assessment of the extent of their injuries and the expected long-term medical costs. If it takes longer than 30 days for the patient to recover, then the settlement could be pushed back.
Conversely, a straightforward property damage claim where fault is clear can be settled in as little as two weeks.
If Your Insurance Company Is Not Cooperating
Even if your state doesn’t have specific laws establishing a claims timeline, you still have the right to be paid quickly and efficiently by the insurance company. If your insurance company is acting in an unethical manner and delaying payment without a clear reason, you can file a “bad faith” lawsuit. In addition to your original settlement amount, you could be paid extra for interest and penalties.
You can tell who is at fault in a car accident by considering driver and witness statements, dash cam footage, the location of vehicle damage, the position of the vehicles, or any citations issued after the accident. Insurance companies will also use adjustors and accident reconstruction experts to determine fault in car accidents. These expects consider factors such as the point of impact, evidence of sudden acceleration, and the angle of the steering wheel.… read full answer
How to Determine Fault in a Car Accident
Take pictures of the vehicle damage and accident scene.
Find witnesses who saw what happened.
Give your statement to the police and file a report, to aid in their investigation.
Provide the insurance adjuster with all of your evidence and information.
Who Determines Fault After a Car Accident?
When you file a claim after a car accident, the insurance company will assign an adjuster to your case. Adjustors evaluate all of the evidence related to the accident and determine who is at fault.
Insurance adjusters make this decision using the legal definition of negligence, which is when a driver fails to exercise the same amount of caution that a “reasonable person” would under the same circumstances.
States have different ways of handling at-fault accidents based on the degree of negligence shown by each driver. Each system affects how damages can be awarded differently, too.
State Negligence Laws & Fault in Car Accidents
Expenses are covered based on the degree of responsibility that each driver has for the accident. Used in 12 states, including California and Florida.
Modified Comparative Negligence
Your expenses will only be covered by the other driver’s insurance if you are less than 51% at fault. Used in 33 states, including Texas and Illinois.
You cannot recoup expenses at all if you share any blame for the accident. Used in five states, including Maryland and Virginia, plus the District of Columbia.
How to Make the Fault Determination Process Easier
The more information and evidence that you gather after a car accident, the easier the insurance adjuster’s job will be. Since liability can sometimes come down to your word versus the other driver’s, get the names and contact information of any witnesses to the accident. Also, prior to leaving the scene, take plenty of pictures of the damage to both vehicles, the debris from the accident, and anything in your surroundings that could be relevant.
You might need to call the police and file a report, too, depending on the extent of any injuries and property damage. Officers might issue citations as they investigate the accident, and while a citation doesn’t legally prove who was at fault, it could be used as evidence of negligence in a lawsuit.
Yes, New Jersey is a no-fault state, which means that each driver’s insurance pays for their own medical bills after an accident, regardless of fault. To pay for these expenses, drivers in New Jersey are typically required to carry $15,000 in personal injury protection (PIP) per person and per accident.
New Jersey is also one of three “choice no-fault” states that allow drivers to opt out of the no-fault system, which would mean no limitations when it comes to filing a lawsuit after a wreck. If a driver does not opt out, they can only sue the at-fault driver if they have experienced the loss of a body part, significant disfigurement or scarring, a displaced fracture, loss of fetus, permanent injury, or death.
How Fault Affects Lawsuits in New Jersey
When a driver files a lawsuit against an at-fault party, even in no-fault legal systems, the state’s laws will affect how compensation is awarded. Specifically, New Jersey has modified comparative negligence laws.
If you are 51% or more at fault, you can’t collect any damages from the other driver.
If you are less than 50% at fault, you can collect damages minus the percentage that you're at fault.
For example, if you’re 30% at-fault, you can get 70% of your damages covered by the other driver. In New Jersey, the statute of limitations is fairly short: just two years. That means you have two years after your accident to file a lawsuit for medical damages.
Why You Should Care That New Jersey is a Tort/Fault State
No-fault means faster payouts. Police and your insurance company don’t need to investigate the accident’s cause before you can get paid for your medical bills. As a result, your bills get paid more quickly than they would in a tort state, where fault for the accident determines the payout.
Another benefit of no-fault insurance is the knowledge that you’re covered no matter who causes an accident. That can make driving in New Jersey a bit less nerve-wracking.
No-fault insurance also has downsides, unfortunately. The most obvious is higher premiums. States with no-fault insurance struggle with high rates of fraudulent claims, which raise the costs of insurance for everyone.
No-fault rules don’t apply to property damage, either. One or both drivers will be at fault after a collision, no matter which state you live in. The police and your insurance company consider New Jersey’s laws, the circumstances of the collision, and drivers’ testimonies before deciding who is at fault.
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