Understanding the Lawsuit Limitation Option on Your New Jersey Auto Insurance Policy and the Exceptions to It That Permit You to Sue the Negligent Driver For Non-Economic Damages Sustained in a Motor Vehicle Accident in New Jersey
The Verbal Threshold, also known as the Limitation on Lawsuit option, is a provision in New Jersey Statutes Annotated Section 39:6A-8 that prevents plaintiffs injured in motor vehicle accidents from suing for non-economic losses, such as pain, suffering, emotional distress, and loss of enjoyment of life. The Verbal Threshold or Limitation on Lawsuit can be found on a basic policy or a standard auto insurance policy in New Jersey. The Verbal Threshold or Lawsuit Limitation was enacted into law in New Jersey in 1988 as part of legislation that created a no-fault auto insurance system in New Jersey.
New Jersey residents that are injured in a motor vehicle accident and who have the Verbal Threshold, or Limitation on Lawsuit option, active on their auto insurance policy are legally prohibited from filing a civil lawsuit to obtain monetary compensation for pain and suffering injuries, emotional distress, and loss of enjoyment of life unless their injuries fall within certain specific and limited exceptions. These limited exceptions include the following grounds: death, dismemberment, loss of a fetus, significant disfigurement or scarring, displaced fractures, or a permanent injury. Of all the exceptions to the Verbal Threshold or Limitation on Lawsuit option, injuries which are classified as “permanent” provide the broadest, largest exception to the lawsuit limitation and are most often argued by injured plaintiffs to try and seek compensation for non-economic damages, including pain and suffering, emotional distress, and loss of enjoyment of life. In order to prove that a New Jersey injured auto driver sustained a permanent injury sufficient to thwart and get around the lawsuit limitation option, a treating physician for the injured motor vehicle driver will have to provide a certification, an expert report, and likely also provide deposition testimony certifying that the New Jersey resident sustained permanent injuries in the motor vehicle accident, assuming that none of the other exceptions to the Verbal Threshold and Lawsuit Limitation apply.
While it does cost more money, the attorneys at Gencarelli and Rimassa Law Firm, LLC always encourage our personal injury clients to select no limitation on their auto insurance policies. When a New Jersey resident selects no limitation, that New Jersey resident can recover compensation for their bodily injuries, as well as pain and suffering and other related injuries, regardless of whether the injuries are permanent or have fully healed without any residual defects. Looking at it in this light, sustaining injuries in even one motor vehicle accident in New Jersey, regardless of the severity of the injuries sustained, and being able to file a Complaint to obtain compensation for your bodily injuries regardless of the severity of the injuries, may very well pay for itself, essentially, in that you are able to receive monetary compensation for your bodily injuries regardless of the complexity, seriousness, or permanency of the physical injuries.