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Supreme Court Ruling Means More Rights for New Jersey Auto Accident Victims

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The term “verbal threshold” is confusing to a lot of people. Essentially, when there is an auto accident in a state with a no-fault insurance law and someone is injured, invoking the verbal threshold means that the victim’s degree of injury must exceed a set threshold before a suit can be brought against the negligent party. This threshold is typically the loss of a body part or bodily function.

The recent New Jersey Supreme Court decision in Zabilowicz v. Kelsey ruled that when an accident happens in New Jersey involving a driver from out of state with an insurance company that doesn’t do business in New Jersey, that driver cannot invoke the verbal threshold as a defense against a lawsuit.

The justices reasoned that because carriers not authorized to do business in New Jersey are not required to pay the Personal Injury Protection benefits required under the state’s no-fault insurance system, they are not entitled to the quid pro quo of limited liability. The unanimous decision…overturned rulings by two lower courts that allowed a Pennsylvania defendant to invoke the N.J. liability threshold, which bars recovery for pain and suffering without a showing of permanent injury. -New Jersey Law Journal

This is empowering news for New Jersey drivers, because it means that they don’t have to lose a body part before they can recover compensation for pain and suffering caused by someone else’s negligence.

2 Comments

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  1. Mike Bryant says:
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    Minnesota has some of the same questions. the defense has made a industry out of using them as shields to prevent claims. Good to see a Court that is protecting the consumer.

  2. Penny Lane says:
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    Also remember that if you are a NJ resident, you should opt for the more expensive policy and do NOT chose the verbal threshold. Also remember to buy the highest UM and UIM [uninsured and underinsured] coverage that you can afford. This coverage protects you in the event you are hit by someone with little or no insurance.