New Jersey has some of the nation’s most multifaceted auto accident insurance laws. Two laws are widely misinterpreted and often misunderstood under New Jersey’s automotive policies: the verbal threshold and the deemer statute. The deemer statute applies to state driver who has suffered injuries from a car accident while driving in New Jersey.
The second law, the verbal threshold, applies to New Jersey residents who have cars registered and licensed in this state and have suffered injuries from a car collision. If you have a New Jersey auto insurance policy, you must choose between a verbal and non-verbal threshold. Depending on the policy you choose will affect your legal rights if you are injured in a car accident.
Accident victims can seek personal injury compensation in New Jersey for a wide range of injuries, from catastrophic harm such as traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, amputations, and loss of vision, to Spinal trauma that causes chronic and debilitating back or neck pain.
Personal Injury can arise from a wide range of circumstances, from car, Motorcycle, and Truck Accidents to Construction Accidents, Dog Bites, Slip-and-Fall Accidents, or injuries caused by defective products. However, New Jersey’s no-fault auto insurance laws (as well as laws regarding claims against government actors under the state’s Tort Claims Act) contain special provisions called a “verbal threshold” that are intended to limit non-economic damages involving a claim of any type of pain, suffering or inconvenience.
Injuries for which Noneconomic Damages Can Be Sought in New Jersey
The strict language of New Jersey’s verbal threshold law limits eligibility for noneconomic damages that are compensable by the insurance coverage to the following types of motor vehicle accident injuries:
- Bodily injuries that result in death or dismemberment
- Significant disfigurement or significant scarring
- Displaced fractures
- Loss of a fetus
- Permanent injuries can be established “within a reasonable degree of medical probability.”
This means that a person who suffers an injury that does not meet one of these criteria cannot seek insurance coverage for claims such as emotional distress, loss of consortium, or loss of physical abilities (such as swinging a golf club) that do not affect employment.
For a Car Accident injury claim on one of these issues to be recognized by the court, a plaintiff must provide the defendant with a certification from a physician that the person has suffered an injury described above.
The certification must be based on clinical evidence, such as medical tests. The statute provides criminal consequences for submitting fraudulent, fictitious, false, or misleading statements or omitting material facts from a certification.
The statute is a result of the passage of the Automobile Insurance Cost Reduction Act (AICRA), and one alternative provided to the “basic” tort option under the law is the “no limitation on lawsuit” option. This option, which authorizes noneconomic injury claims for all injuries, is only available if an automobile involved in the accident is covered by personal injury protection (PIP) or medical expense benefits policy.
Proving Permanent Injury in Car/Truck Accidents
Many New Jersey car, truck, and motorcycle accident victims face the legal challenge of proving that their injuries are permanent to receive compensation for all their harm. Payments for lost income, medical expenses, and property damage may fall far short of the harm suffered by a person who can no longer live life as they once did due to spinal trauma or a whiplash injury.
Working with an experienced New Jersey personal injury lawyer in such cases is clear. One crucial strategy is to ensure that a client’s medical condition receives expert medical attention and that all effects of the accident are fully documented. Just as important, a thorough review of the evidence can identify other potentially liable parties, such as defective automobile part manufacturers not subject to verbal threshold limitations.
An attorney can also make arguments based on the statutory language contained in AICRA, including:
- The statute’s plain meaning requires compensation for auto crash injuries that do not heal sufficiently to allow a return to normal function.
- The statute permits compensation for soft tissue injuries that cause permanent loss of normal function to an injured body part.
- The intent of New Jersey lawmakers in passing AICRA was to lower insurance costs while still guaranteeing compensation for injuries that do not heal.
- The standard for evidence in permanent injury cases is the same as that already required for all scientific expert opinions in personal injury litigation.
People who suffer car accident injuries and suffer a loss of function should be able to recover from all of their losses when a distracted driver, Drunk Driver, or other negligent motorist causes harm. Aggressive and strategic representation from a lawyer is a crucial asset to injured plaintiffs, whether they suffered severe injuries that caused immediate paralysis or experienced chronic pain and discomfort that could last a lifetime.