Exceptions To The New Jersey Verbal “Tort” Threshold?

In 1998, New Jersey enacted the Automobile Insurance Cost Reduction Act (“AICRA”), which was an attempt to limit injured car accident victims from recovering pain and suffering damages.  This selection applies not only to the policyholder, but also to family members living in the insured’s household

Fortunately, there are important exceptions.  That is why you should meet with the motor vehicle accident lawyers of Geoffrey B. Gompers & Associates if you are in a New Jersey accident.  The limitation on lawsuit threshold does not apply:  (a) to insured electing the No Limitation on Lawsuit threshold; (2) to persons not required to maintain PIP coverage; (3) to a person injured in a car accident caused by a commercial vehicle not required to maintain PIP coverage; (4) to out of state persons driving in New Jersey whose auto insurance carrier is not authorized to conduct business in New Jersey.

AICRA also contains six medical exceptions based upon the severity of the injury sustained in the car accident.  The following injuries qualify as exceptions: (1) death; (2) dismemberment; (3) loss of a fetus; (4) significant disfigurement or scarring; (5) displaced fractures; or (6) permanent injury. Even if you are bound by the Verbal Limited Tort Threshold, you may be able to recover damages for pain and suffering resulting from the automobile accident if your injuries meet these exceptions.

While the first five exceptions are self explanatory, the New Jersey Courts have struggled with the meaning of “permanent injury”. In 2005, the New Jersey Supreme Court issued two important decisions aimed at defining “permanent injury”:  DiProspero v. Penn, 183 N.J. 477 (2005) and Serrano v. Serrano, 183 N.J. 508 (2005).  These cases required a verbal threshold car accident plaintiff to now prove that a body part or organ has not healed to function normally and will not do so with further medical treatment.  The requirement is now that a Verbal Threshold plaintiff must now file a doctor’s Certification with 60 days of the filing of the defendant’s Answer stating that the plaintiff sustained a permanent injury which is based upon objective evidence, i.e., an MRI, CT scan or other non-experimental test.  Good practice suggests that the Certification contain specificity to ensure that it passes judicial scrutiny as insurers often challenge the adequacy of the Certification.

Obviously, the New Jersey car accident lawyers at Geoffrey B. Gompers & Associates suggest that their New Jersey clients spend the extra money to purchase the No Limitation of Lawsuit threshold.  But even if you find that you are involved in an car accident in New Jersey with the Verbal Threshold, call Geoffrey B. Gompers & Associates for a free consultation to determine if any exceptions apply to your case. Our accident lawyers are experienced in handling such claims and work diligently to help victims of auto accident injuries get the compensation they deserve under the law. With offices in Philadelphia and South Jersey, we represent clients throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Please call 215-567-6600 or contact us online to schedule an appointment today.