Law Office Of Paul DePetris
paul@newjerseylemon.com

New Jersey Property Damage Lawsuit FAQs

INTRODUCTION
Read below to learn more about this topic. Or, to receive a no cost phone consultation, call Mr. DePetris at 609-714-2020 or send him an email. Warning – this article does not necessarily include every New Jersey court rule, code or law that may apply to your New Jersey case! The Law Office of Paul DePetris does not guarantee that the statutes, rules, codes, files or forms on this website are the latest versions, that they lack typographical errors or that they have not changed, repealed or superseded by other laws. Before taking any action, read all applicable federal and state source law and case law and consult with an attorney. Court addresses, hours of operation and directions may change so check with the court in advance of mailing documents to court or going there! Some of the webpages on this site don’t apply to all types of New Jersey cases, since there are different rules for different case types!

NEW JERSEY PROPERTY DAMAGE LAWSUIT FAQS

WHAT IS A NEW JERSEY PROPERTY DAMAGE LAWSUIT?
A New Jersey Property Damage Lawsuit is a “tort” case brought by an owner of a damaged home, car or other kind of property against another person that may be responsible for causing the damage or against your own insurance company that refuses to pay the New Jersey property damage claim that you make with your own insurance company. The different types of New Jersey Property Damage cases include New Jersey Car Damage Lawsuits, New Jersey car insurance lawsuits and New Jersey Homeowner's Insurance lawsuits – also called New Jersey homeowner insurance bad faith lawsuits. Because the law about New Jersey property damage cases can be complex, you should seriously consider hiring an experienced New Jersey property damage attorney to help you with your case.

WHO IS THE PLAINTIFF IN A NEW JERSEY PROPERTY DAMAGE LAWSUIT?
A “plaintiff” is usually the person or company that files the New Jersey Property Damage Lawsuit.

WHO IS A DEFENDANT IN A NEW JERSEY PROPERTY DAMAGE LAWSUIT?
A “defendant” is usually the person or company that is sued in a New Jersey Property Damage Lawsuit. But in some New Jersey Cases car accident damage cases, the Defendant also files a counterclaim for property damage to their car in the New Jersey Car Damage Lawsuit.

WHAT IS A NEW JERSEY “TORT” CASE
There are two types of civil cases in New Jersey – “tort” cases and “contract” cases. A “tort” case is a category or type of case other than one based upon a contract. When a New Jersey Property Damage case involves someone with whom you do not have a contract, a New Jersey Property Damage Lawsuit is a “tort” case – such a case arises when the parties involved in the case do not have some type of contract with one another or when the dispute is outside the contract’s terms. If a New Jersey Property Damage case involves someone that caused damage for something they were required to do or do not do under a contract with you, that New Jersey Property Damage case is a contract case (and in some situations may also be a tort case). For example New Jersey car insurance lawsuits involve claims by the owner of the insurance policy against the owner’s own insurance company for failure to pay a claim under the insurance contract.

WHAT IS A “TORTFEASOR” IN A NEW JERSEY PROPERTY DAMAGE LAWSUIT?
A “tortfeasor” in a New Jersey Property Damage case is the Party that causes an accident which causes property damage to another’s property – such as a home or car.

WHY SHOULD I HIRE AN EXPERIENCED NEW JERSEY PROPERTY DAMAGE ATTORNEY TO HELP ME WITH MY CASE?
If you have a New Jersey property damage case, seriously consider hiring an experienced New Jersey property damage attorney. In a New Jersey property damage lawsuit, if the person causing your property damage has a valid insurance policy of their own, their insurance company usually hires an attorney to represent the person causing that damage. If you don’t have an experienced New Jersey property damage attorney’s help, the insurance company’s attorney may make your efforts to prove your case very difficult and therefore, you shall most likely be seriously challenged when trying to prove your case. You can’t expect the court to give you free legal advice or to help you represent yourself. Therefore, you should seriously consider hiring an experienced New Jersey property damage attorney to help you with your case.

HOW DO I PROVE THAT SOMEONE IS RESPONSIBLE FOR DAMAGING MY CAR IN A NEW JERSEY CAR DAMAGE LAWSUIT?
In the typical New Jersey Car Damage case, the damaged car owner must prove that the owner or operator of another vehicle was “negligent” and that their “negligence” was the “proximate cause” of the accident and the resulting car accident property damage. Negligence is defined as conduct which falls below the standard established by law for the protection of others against unreasonable risk of harm. “Proximate cause” is found where the injury/loss/harm is so connected with the negligent actions or inactions of the Defendant or other Party that the Court decides that it is reasonable that the Defendant or other Party should be held wholly or partially responsible for the injury/loss/harm. In the typical New Jersey Car Damage Lawsuit, negligence is the failure to use that degree of care, precaution and vigilance which a reasonably prudent Defendant driver would use under the same or similar circumstances. It includes both affirmative acts which a reasonably prudent Defendant driver would not have done and the omission of acts or precautions which a reasonably prudent Defendant driver would have done or taken in the circumstances.
By “a reasonably prudent Defendant driver” it is not meant the most cautious person nor one who is unusually bold but rather one of reasonable vigilance, caution and prudence. In order to establish negligence, it is not necessary that it be shown that the Defendant had an evil heart or an intent to do harm.
To summarize, in the typical New Jersey Car Damage lawsuit, every person is required to exercise the foresight, prudence and caution which a reasonably prudent Defendant driver would exercise under the same or similar circumstances. Negligence then is a departure from that standard of care. The Defendant's conduct is compared with that which the hypothetical person of reasonable vigilance, caution and prudence would have exercised in the same or similar circumstances or conditions. In the typical New Jersey Car Damage case, the conduct of the reasonable person will vary with the situation with which he is confronted. In determining whether reasonable care has been exercised, the Court will consider whether the Defendant ought to have foreseen, under the attending circumstances, that the natural and probable consequence of his/her act or omission to act would have been some injury. It is not necessary that the Defendant have anticipated the very occurrence which resulted from his/her wrongdoing but it is sufficient that it was within the realm of foreseeability that some harm might occur thereby. The test is the probable and foreseeable consequences that may reasonably be anticipated from the performance, or the failure to perform, a particular act. If an ordinary Defendant, under similar circumstances and by the use of ordinary care, could have foreseen the result, [i.e., that some injury or damage would probably result] and either would not have acted or, if he/she did act, would have taken precaution to avoid the result, then the performance of the act or the failure to take such precautions would constitute negligence. A person has the right to assume that the Driver of an automobile will exercise reasonable care and observe the standard of conduct required of them in the use of the highway. When people drive their motor vehicles on our highways, they have certain rights and assume certain obligations and responsibilities. They have the right to enjoy the streets and highways but they must make proper and lawful use of this right. They must use it with reciprocal regard for the rights of others who may be driving upon the highway, and so as not to negligently injure other persons lawfully upon the streets. This simply means that the Driver of an automobile upon a public highway is under the duty of exercising for the safety of others that degree of care, precaution and vigilance in the operation of his/her car which a reasonably prudent Defendant driver would exercise under similar circumstances. It has sometimes been defined as care commensurate with the risk of danger. Thus, New Jersey Car Damage case, the Driver of an automobile is required to use reasonable care in the control, management and operation of his/her machine. The Defendant driver is required to make such observation for traffic and road conditions and to exercise such judgment to avoid collision or injury to others on the highway, as a reasonably prudent Defendant driver would have done in the circumstances. This duty of reasonable care by users of the highways is mutual and ordinarily each may assume that the other will observe that standard of conduct in the use thereof. Negligence is then the failure to adhere to this standard of conduct. The law imposes upon the Driver of an automobile the duty of exercising such care as is reasonable under all the circumstances confronting him/her at the particular time. This duty requires motorists to use our streets and highways with reciprocal regard for the rights of others who may also be using them. Thus a motorist is required to make such observations for traffic and vehicles which are in or may come into his/her path of travel, as a reasonably prudent Defendant driver would make. The duty to exercise reasonable care between persons using a public highway is mutual. An approaching driver is justified in assuming, until he/she discovers that it is contrary to the fact, that all other users of the highway will exercise reasonable care in their use of the highway. The fact that an operator of an automobile cannot see up an intersecting street until he/she is actually in it, does not obligate him/her to get out of the car and look up and down the street before proceeding over or into it. A person is not required to extend his/her vision beyond a point where vehicles traveling at a lawful speed would threaten his/her safety. The duty imposed upon a motorist in such situation is to approach the obscured intersection with reasonable care and caution, commensurate with the risk involved. This duty requires the motorist to have his/her vehicle under proper control, to operate it at an appropriate speed and to make such reasonable and effective observations as a reasonably prudent Defendant driver would make, commensurate with the risk of danger involved. Where the view of the roadway ahead is impaired by obstructions to view caused by darkness, fog, rain on glass or other such obstruction, there is a duty to exercise care commensurate with the risk of the hazard presented. The operator of a motor vehicle in such a situation is required to exercise reasonable care, that is, such care as the existing conditions require, to have his/her vehicle under such control as to be able to stop, if necessary, to avoid harm to others on the highway. In addition, while operating a Car in the night time, the operator is required to anticipate that other vehicles and persons may be on the highway and must use reasonable care to so adjust his/her lights that he/she can observe vehicles or pedestrians at a sufficient distance to avoid contact with them at the speed he/she is traveling. No person is entitled to drive a Car on a public street or highway while blind, even temporarily. Where street lights, headlights or other lights or reflections of light have the effect of causing temporary blindness, it is his/her duty to stop his/her car and thereafter to proceed only when the temporary blindness has passed. The law does not impose upon a Defendant driver an absolute duty to observe and avoid obstacles and defects in a street or highway. A Defendant driver of a Car has the right to place reasonable reliance upon proper preservation of a street or highway in a reasonably safe condition. But where a defect or obstacle is obvious or clearly visible or where reasonable observation would disclose it in time to avoid or prepare for it, a Defendant driver of an automobile is liable for failure to exercise reasonable care to avoid it [or its effects]. Because burdens of proof and the process of actually proving a lawsuit is a complex process, you should seriously consider hiring an experienced New Jersey car damage lawsuit attorney to help you with your case.

WHAT DAMAGES CAN I RECOVER IF ANOTHER PERSON IS FOUND LIABLE BY A COURT FOR DAMAGING MY CAR IN A NEW JERSEY CAR DAMAGE LAWSUIT?
In a New Jersey car damage case, if the Court ultimately finds the Plaintiff’s car was damaged as a result of the Defendant’s negligence, that Plaintiff would be entitled to the Court’s verdict. The Plaintiff filing the New Jersey Car Damage lawsuit would be entitled to money damages from the Defendant for the loss suffered. The measure of damages for such loss is the difference between the market value of the personal property before and the market value after the damage occurred. If the personal property has no market value in its damaged condition, the measure of damages is the difference between the market value of the personal property before the damage occurred and its salvage value in its damaged condition. If the personal property is not substantially damaged and it can be repaired at a cost less than the difference between its market value before and its market value after the damage occurred the Plaintiff’s damages would be limited to the cost of the repairs. Because the burden of proving damages is a complex process, you should seriously consider hiring an experienced New Jersey car damage lawsuit attorney to help you with your case. In a New Jersey car damage case the cost of repairs is evidential on the issue of the difference in value of goods before and after injury, but the cost of such repairs must neither exceed the loss in market value due to the damage nor the automobile’s market value immediately before the damage. Where the automobile was damaged and then sold by plaintiff without any repairs having been made thereon, the measure of damages is the difference between the value of the automobile before it was damaged and the price which was received for it from the purchase (assuming the sale price is not less than the automobile’s worth or value in its damaged condition). In determining the amount of money, if any, to be awarded to the Plaintiff (owner) for the damage to his/her personal property, the Court deciding the New Jersey Car Damage case may consider, but is not bound by, the testimony of the Plaintiff (owner) as to his/her opinion of the value of the property before and after it was damaged. The owner of personal property may be permitted to testify as to its value before and after damage where such personal property is “of a common class or in general daily use,” in the court’s discretion, but not where the owner has not the slightest knowledge of such value. A plaintiff who is entitled to a verdict for property damage to a motor vehicle is also entitled to recover for necessary and reasonable out-of-pocket expenses for towing and storage of the vehicle and rental cost of a substitute vehicle whether the property damage to plaintiff’s car is partial or total. In a New Jersey car damage case, as to any of the out-of-pocket expenses, the determination as to necessity for same and the reasonableness of both the cost thereof and the period of time required is for the Court, the jury, to determine in the light of all the circumstances in which plaintiff found himself/herself following the accident. Inconveniences caused by loss of use of an automobile, where that loss of use was attributed to wrongful conduct of a tortfeasor, are recoverable.

WHY SHOULD I HIRE AN EXPERIENCED NEW JERSEY CAR DAMAGE LAWSUIT ATTORNEY TO HELP ME WITH MY CASE?
In a New Jersey car damage case, if the person that damaged your car has their own automobile insurance in effect at the time of the accident, their own insurance company almost always hires an attorney to represent that person who damaged your car in court. If you handle a New Jersey car damage lawsuit against the insurance company’s attorney, you shall most likely be seriously challenged when trying to prove your case. You can’t expect the court to give you free legal advice or to help you represent yourself. You should seriously consider hiring an experienced New Jersey car damage lawsuit attorney.

WHAT IS A NEW JERSEY CAR INSURANCE LAWSUIT?
New Jersey car insurance lawsuits involve claims by the owner of the insurance policy against the car owner’s own insurance company for failure to pay a claim under the insurance contract. There are two types of New Jersey civil cases in New Jersey – “tort” cases and “contract” cases. A New Jersey “tort” case is a category or type of case other than one based upon a New Jersey insurance contract or is outside a New Jersey insurance contract’s terms. A New Jersey car insurance lawsuit is a “contract” case when the insurance company and you have some type of contract with one another and when you claim that the dispute falls inside the New Jersey insurance contract’s terms. The best example of a New Jersey car insurance lawsuit is the situation where your car is damaged and the insurance company refuses to pay you what you believe you are due to receive for the property damage that your car suffered in an automobile accident, after it was vandalized or after it suffered flood or other types of storm damage. Sometimes, the car owner can’t get their insurance company to declare the car a total loss, leading the car owner to file a New Jersey car insurance lawsuit. Because the issues in these types of cases can be quite complex and because the insurance company has a significant advantage over you given its experience with these types of disputes, you should seriously consider hiring an experienced New Jersey car insurance lawsuit attorney to help you with your case.

CONTRACTUAL STATUTES OF LIMITATIONS CONTAINED IN CAR INSURANCE POLICIES
Before filing your New Jersey car insurance lawsuit make sure you are doing so in the proper time frame. Otherwise, your case could be dismissed!! Insurance policies may require that any lawsuit by a car owner insured against their insurance company be filed within a specific time frame within the time that the insured had an accident or within notifying the insurance company of an insurance claim or insurance loss. In one insurance dispute, the insurance policy had a 1 year limitations clause and the court enforced it, thereby denying the insured with insurance coverage under the insurance policy. You should seriously consider hiring an experienced New Jersey car insurance lawsuit attorney to help you with your case so that you do not try to file a lawsuit too late!

WHAT IS THE DUTY OF GOOD FAITH AND FAIR DEALING IN NEW JERSEY CAR INSURANCE LAWSUITS?
In a New Jersey car insurance lawsuit, the duty of good faith and fair dealing may be at issue. In addition to the express terms of an insurance contract, the law provides that every insurance contract contains an implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing. This means that, even though not specifically stated in the insurance contract, it is implied or understood that the New Jersey insured and the insurance company to the insurance contract must act in good faith and deal fairly with the other party in performing or enforcing the terms of the insurance contract.

WHY SHOULD I HIRE AN EXPERIENCED NEW JERSEY CAR INSURANCE LAWSUIT ATTORNEY TO HELP ME WITH MY CASE?
In a New Jersey car insurance lawsuit, the insurance company almost always hires an attorney to represent it in court. If you handle a New Jersey car insurance lawsuit against the insurance company’s attorney, you shall most likely be seriously challenged when trying to prove your case. You can’t expect the court to give you free legal advice or to help you represent yourself. You should seriously consider hiring an experienced New Jersey car insurance lawsuit attorney to help you with your case.

WHAT IS A NEW JERSEY HOMEOWNER’S INSURANCE LAWSUIT?
A New Jersey homeowner’s insurance lawsuit is usually a lawsuit filed by a homeowner against their own Homeowner’s Insurance Company because of its failure to pay or settle a New Jersey Homeowner’s claim. This is called a first party insurance claim because the homeowner is directly proceeding against their own insurance company as opposed to a claim by a stranger or neighbor against your own homeowner’s insurance. In the typical New Jersey homeowner’s insurance lawsuit, the insurance company will be represented by its own attorney. For this reason you should seriously consider hiring your own experienced New Jersey homeowner’s insurance lawsuit attorney to help you with your case. Otherwise, you may face a severe disadvantage trying to handle the case against an attorney.

CONTRACTUAL STATUTES OF LIMITATIONS CONTAINED IN HOMEOWNER INSURANCE POLICIES
One of the first things you need to know when filing a New Jersey homeowner’s insurance lawsuit is that there may be a deadline under the insurance policy in which to file the complaint. Insurance policies may require that any lawsuit by a homeowner insured against their insurance company be filed within a specific time frame within the time that the insured had an accident or within notifying the insurance company of an insurance claim or insurance loss. In one insurance dispute, the insurance policy had a 1 year limitations clause and the court enforced it, thereby denying the insured with insurance coverage under the insurance policy.

WHAT IS THE DUTY OF GOOD FAITH AND FAIR DEALING IN NEW JERSEY HOMEOWNER INSURANCE LAWSUITS?
In a New Jersey homeowner insurance lawsuit, if the homeowner insurance company acts in bad faith towards the homeowner, the homeowner should consider bringing a bad faith claim. In addition to the express terms of an insurance contract, the law provides that every insurance contract contains an implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing. This means that, even though not specifically stated in the homeowner insurance contract, it is implied or understood that the New Jersey insured and the insurance company to the insurance contract must act in good faith and deal fairly with the other party in performing or enforcing the terms of the insurance contract.

WHAT MUST THE HOMEOWNER PROVE TO WIN A NEW JERSEY HOMEOWNER’S INSURANCE LAWSUIT?
To prove a New Jersey Homeowner’s Insurance lawsuit against your own insurance policy, the homeowner prove that some type of contract existed between them and their insurance company. There can be no breach of that contract or of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing unless there existed a valid insurance contract between the homeowner and insurance company. If the homeowner claims that the insurance company breached the insurance contract, the homeowner must prove that the insurance company did not live up to its obligations under the contract and therefore breached the contract. Usually, the court deciding a New Jersey Homeowner’s Insurance lawsuit will also require the homeowner to prove that the breach was not a minor one but instead, was a major one – that is, that the insurance company failed to do something important under the contract. The homeowner must also prove that they suffered damages due to the insurance company’s breach of contract. If the homeowner claims that the insurance company acted in bad faith, the homeowner must also prove that the insurance company acted in bad faith with the purpose of depriving the homeowner of their rights or of Insurance benefits under the contract. Like a breach of contract, the homeowner claiming bad faith must prove that the insurance company’s bad faith caused the homeowner to suffer damages. Because burdens of proof and the process of actually proving your case can be very complex, you should seriously consider hiring your own experienced New Jersey homeowner’s insurance lawsuit attorney to help you with your case.

THE FAIRLY DEBATABLE STANDARD – THE BASIS FOR FINDING AN INSURANCE COMPANY ENGAGED IN BAD FAITH IN FAILING TO PAY A NEW JERSEY HOMEOWNER’S INSURANCE LAWSUIT
To prove a New Jersey Homeowner’s Insurance bad faith lawsuit, the homeowner show the absence of a reasonable basis for denying New Jersey Homeowner’s Insurance benefits of the policy and the Insurance company's knowledge or reckless disregard of the lack of a reasonable basis for denying the New Jersey Homeowner’s Insurance lawsuit. The lack of a reasonable basis may be inferred and imputed to an insurance company where there is a reckless indifference to facts or to proofs submitted by the New Jersey Homeowner. The Insurance company acts in bad faith in delaying the processing of a valid claim when: (1) the Insurance company’s conduct is unreasonable, and (2) the insurer knows that the conduct is unreasonable or recklessly disregards the fact that the conduct is unreasonable. Thus, for example, when a claim is lost in the computer, those processing the New Jersey Homeowner’s Insurance lawsuit should not be penalized for their efforts when, through no intentional act, a claim runs afoul of the system. Neither negligence nor mistake is sufficient to show that the Insurance company acted in bad faith.

WHAT DAMAGES CAN A NEW JERSEY HOMEOWNER RECOVER IN A NEW JERSEY HOMEOWNER’S INSURANCE LAWSUIT?
In a New Jersey homeowner’s insurance lawsuit, the issue may come down to the language of the contract. Contract law can be quite difficult for a nonlawyer to understand. Because the process of actually proving your damages can be very complex, you should seriously consider hiring your own experienced New Jersey homeowner’s insurance lawsuit attorney to help you with your case. Under contract law, an insurance company that breaches an insurance contract is liable for all of the natural and probable consequences of the breach of the contract. Compensatory damages are designed to put the injured homeowner in as good a position as he would have had if performance had been rendered as promised. Implicit in these principles is some notion of foreseeability – did the insurance company knew or should they have reasonably foreseen that the homeowner was "at risk" of economic loss in addition to the policy benefits and that "ascertainable economic damages would ensue from the conduct" of the insurance company? Further, absent egregious circumstances, no right to recover for emotional distress or punitive damages exists for the Insurance company's allegedly wrongful refusal to pay a claim.

WHY SHOULD I HIRE AN EXPERIENCED NEW JERSEY HOMEOWNER’S INSURANCE LAWSUIT ATTORNEY TO HELP ME WITH MY CASE?
For most homeowners, the purchase of a house is the most expensive purchase that they will make in their lifetime. Why take chances with such an important investment? In a New Jersey homeowner’s insurance lawsuit, the insurance company almost always hires an attorney to represent it in court. If you handle a New Jersey homeowner’s insurance lawsuit against the insurance company’s attorney, you shall most likely be seriously challenged when trying to prove your case. You can’t expect the court to give you free legal advice or to help you represent yourself. You should seriously consider hiring an experienced New Jersey homeowner’s insurance lawsuit attorney to help you with your case.


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