The Cassidy Law Firm Blog

Monday, April 13, 2020

What Are the Exceptions to the New Jersey Verbal Threshold?

As we all know, auto insurance can be a major expense. Back in 1998, the State of New Jersey recognized this and put a measure in place in an attempt to reduce the financial burden some people face when it comes to paying for car insurance. State legislators were unwilling to allow residents to waive mandatory auto insurance coverage. Instead, legislators created an option that would allow motorists to self-waive insurance coverage for non-economic damages sustained in an auto accident in order to secure a less expensive insurance plan. Non-economic damages include things like pain and suffering.

The option to limit the damages available to an auto accident injury victim who made this selection on his or her auto insurance policy is referred to as the “verbal threshold.” The limitation applies regardless of who is at fault in causing an accident. It applies to any driver who is listed on the insurance policy. This includes resident family members like children who do not have their own insurance coverage.

What are the Exceptions to the New Jersey Verbal Threshold?

While the less expensive verbal threshold option on a New Jersey auto insurance policy does limit a person’s right to sue after a car accident, this limitation is not insurmountable. The policyholder may still sue without these policy limitations after an accident if he or she sustained a permanent, serious medical injury and there is sufficient evidence to support this assertion.

When the New Jersey Legislature created the verbal threshold option, it also laid forth several exceptions to the policy restriction on recovering for non-economic damages. A plaintiff in an auto accident injury case may still seek recovery of non-economic damages if he or she suffered:

  • Dismemberment
  • Significant disfigurement or scarring
  • Displaced fractures
  • Loss of a fetus
  • Death
  • Injury deemed to be both permanent and serious within a reasonable degree of medical certainty

If any of the above applies, the injury victim will be able to recover non-economic damages regardless of the election of the verbal threshold. Most of these exceptions are quite clear, but the permanent and serious injury exception is not as specific as the others. A permanent injury is either:

  • Permanent loss of a body organ or function
  • Permanent limitation of use of a body organ or member
  • Significant limitation of use of a body function or system

The plaintiff carries the burden in proving all of the above. This is done through things like medical records and expert testimony.

New Jersey Auto Accident Injury Attorneys

Personal injury law and relevant insurance laws are complex yet integrally related. The knowledgeable auto accident injury attorneys at Cassidy Law Firm have a solid understanding of these areas of the law and we use that to skillfully represent our clients to the best of our abilities. We are here to help make sure you are fully and fairly compensated for your auto accident injuries. Contact us today.


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