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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.


  1. Gravatar for Mike Bryant

    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. Gravatar for Penny Lane

    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.

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