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New Jersey's Verbal Threshold or Limitation on Lawsuit-Will it Affect Your Ability to Recover Damages?

Given the costs of car insurance in New Jersey, the vast majority of New Jersey drivers select "Limitation on Lawsuit” or what used to be known as "Verbal Threshold."  Many drivers when they get car insurance don't know that this selection will limit their ability to obtain financial recovery in a car accident case. 

Under the New Jersey Automobile Insurance Cost Reduction Act, the verbal threshold selection limits the ability of an insured to sue for non-economic damages, i.e., pain and suffering, unless the injury falls into specific categories:

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

In most New Jersey car accident cases, if the injury doesn't fit into the first five categories, the person will not be able to recover damages for pain and suffering. Many common car accident injuries simply do not qualify as a "permanent injury." 

New Jersey drivers are often surprised to hear that a simple fracture will usually not qualify as a "permanent injury."  So, if a person with the verbal threshold selection fractures their leg in a car accident, pain and suffering damages would be unavailable.

Most car accident cases are fought over whether an injury is "permanent." There have been many, many court cases about the meaning of "permanent injury." In 2005, the Supreme Court of New Jersey in DiProspero v. Penn, 183 N.J. 477 and Serrano v. Serrano, 183 N.J. 508, made that determination less complicated. Under current New Jersey law, a plaintiff must be able to prove that "a body part or organ has not healed to function normally and will not do so with further medical treatment."

To prove that there is a permanent injury, the verbal threshold plaintiff has to obtain a treating doctor's certification stating that there has been a permanent injury which is based on objective evidence, like medical tests.  That certification is required to be filed and shown to the other side.

If you'd like to discuss your New Jersey car or truck accident case with our personal injury lawyers, call 877.944.8396 for a FREE, NO OBLIGATION consultation.

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