Car accidents are scary experiences that can leave people confused, frustrated, upset, or feeling any number of other ways in addition to being badly injured. All of the things that may need to be done after a car accident can make it difficult to even think about taking a case to court and fighting a legal battle for potentially many years. For that reason, plaintiffs may wonder how long they have to try and get justice for injuries they sustained in a car accident in New Jersey.

In general, you will have two years from when you are injured in a car accident to bring a car accident lawsuit in New Jersey. This is determined by something called the statute of limitations. Barring some limited exceptions, once that two-year period is up, you can no longer file a claim or recover damages for your injuries. Therefore, it is important to get in contact with legal counsel as soon as you can after you are injured.

For free help with your car accident needs, call the New Jersey car accident lawyers with Legal Care New Jersey at (732) 838-9769.

New Jersey Statute of Limitations for Car Accident Claims

The laws that determine how long you have to bring a certain claim before the court are called statutes of limitations. Different things will have different statutory periods associated with them. For example, the crime of murder has no statute of limitations, and court proceedings regarding that can be brought at any time. However, for matters less serious than murder, like car accidents, there are limits on how long someone has to file an action. Under N.J.S.A. § 2A:14-2, plaintiffs have two years from when they are injured to file a lawsuit. Once that timer runs out, plaintiffs cannot file their case or expect to collect damages.

It may seem odd to put a time limit on when an injured person can file a claim, but there are actually good reasons for doing so. First, it ensures that legal actions are brought when the facts are still relatively fresh in the minds of all parties involved. If a case is brought later, time has the potential to distort facts and recollections from what actually happened. Second, statutory periods, after a time, let people move on with their lives without the looming specter of a lawsuit from events that happened long ago hanging over their heads.

Ways The Car Accident Statue of Limitations Can Be Made Longer in New Jersey

While the general statutory period for car accident cases is two years in New Jersey, there are some things that can “toll” the statute of limitations or put it on hold until a certain thing happens. There are also some other circumstances that may impose a different, longer statutory period than the standard two-year statutory period prescribed by New Jersey law. Our Bayonne, NJ car accident lawyers can examine your claim to see whether any of these exceptions apply to you.

Injured as a Minor

If you were injured in a car accident when you were under the age of 18, the statute of limitations is tolled until you reach 18 years old per N.J.S.A. § 2A:14-21. At that point, the statutory timer starts ticking, and you have two years to file your claim.

Diminished Mental Capacity

The section that tolls the statute of limitations for minors also tolls the statutory period if an individual does not have the mental ability to understand their legal rights. This can cover individuals with mental conditions as well as individuals who are temporarily incapacitated, such as individuals in a coma. Once the individual regains the mental capacity to file a lawsuit and understand their rights, the statutory period starts.

Defendant Leaves New Jersey

Per N.J.S.A. § 2A: 14-22, If the individual responsible for your injuries is not a New Jersey resident or has left the state of New Jersey, the statutory period may be tolled depending on the circumstances. This provision is often used when dealing with businesses or corporations that are not “at home” in New Jersey. However, this applies to car accident cases in many instances because the driver who struck you may not necessarily be a New Jersey resident.

Whether this section applies to your case or not largely depends on whether the defendant can get what is called “service of process.” This is a formal notice to the defendant that they are being sued in court and have the right to defend themselves against any allegations against them. In order to demonstrate that, our Jersey City car accident lawyers will have to show the court that it is difficult or impossible to serve process to the defendant while they are not in the state. Once we do that, the statutory period is tolled, and you will have more time to serve process on the defendant.

What Happens if You Try to File a Car Accident Lawsuit After the Statutory Period in New Jersey?

If you try to file a car accident lawsuit after the statutory period has run out, there will probably not be a positive outcome. Opposing counsel will likely file a motion to dismiss the case on the grounds that the statutory period is up, and a judge is likely to grant that motion. There is pretty much no way to get around this, so it is critical to talk to an attorney as soon as possible after you are hurt to ensure you file your claim on time.

Talk to Our New Jersey Car Accident Lawyers About Your Claim Now

Do not hesitate to contact our Union City car accident lawyers to get a free case review by calling Legal Care New Jersey at (732) 838-9769.