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I was seriously injured on my way to work from PA to South Jersey. Can I still sue the NJ driver who rear-ended me even though I live in PA?

 

A:

Yes, you may, so long as your injuries fall into one of the NJ’s “verbal threshold” exceptions.

Verbal threshold is NJ’s version of PA’s limited tort.  Both verbal threshold and limited tort are options drivers choose when they buy their car insurance policies.  Both limit injured drivers’ rights to sue for non-economic damages, i.e., pain and suffering.

You may be wondering what NJ’s verbal threshold has to do with you because you live in Pennsylvania.  The reason is due to NJ’s Deemer Statute. 

The Deemer Statute deems out-of-state drivers who are injured in NJ car or truck accidents to have verbal threshold if their car insurance companies do business in NJ.  Even if you have full tort on your PA car insurance policy, i.e., you may sue for pain and suffering if you were injured in a PA car accident, you are deemed to have verbal threshold if you were injured in a New Jersey auto accident and your car insurance company does business in NJ.  If you have limited tort on your PA car insurance policy, verbal threshold still applies if you were injured in NJ.

Related: What Is NJ’s Deemer Statute? How Does It Affect PA Drivers Injured In NJ Car Or Truck Accidents?

There are, however, exceptions to verbal threshold.  In order to overcome verbal threshold, your injury would need to fall in specific categories under the New Jersey Automobile Insurance Cost Reduction Act:

(1) death;
(2) dismemberment;
(3) loss of a fetus;
(4) significant disfigurement or scarring;
(5) displaced fractures; or
(6) permanent injury.

The most litigated verbal threshold exception in NJ car accident lawsuits is permanent injury.  An injury is permanent if a body part or organ has not healed to function normally and will not do so with further medical treatment.  In addition, in order to prove that an injury is permanent, the injured driver must provide medical evidence from a physician.  Therefore, objective medical proof is crucial to prove a permanent injury.  Subjective proof, such as the injured driver’s testimony that he can no longer do certain things, is not enough.  They may help support the medical proof.  See: New Jersey's Verbal Threshold or Limitation on Lawsuit-Will it Affect Your Ability to Recover Damages?

As you can see, we would need to discuss your case and injury further in order for me to tell you whether you can sue the other driver in a NJ car accident lawsuit.  Feel free to call me at 877.944.8396 for a FREE case evaluation.


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