New Jersey, like Pennsylvania, is a “no fault” state – meaning that your car insurance will provide you medical benefits coverage (known as personal injury protection coverage) up to the limits you chose in your auto policy regardless of whether you were at fault for the accident. Like Pennsylvania, New Jersey also has an auto policy that puts limitations on your ability to sue, and one that does not. In Pennsylvania these two different policies are called “limited tort” and “full tort”. The limited tort policy places limits on your ability to sue and is less expensive than the full tort policy. In New Jersey the policies are called “limitation on law suit” and “no limitation on law suit”. The no limitation on law suit policy will be more expensive because, as its name suggests, there are no limitations on the lawsuits you can bring.
How Can I Determine If I Can Bring Suit If I Am Involved In A New Jersey Car Accident?
You would assume then, if you paid the extra money for a full tort auto policy in Pennsylvania you would enjoy the benefits of having no limitations on your lawsuit if you were in an accident in New Jersey. This is not always the case because of New Jersey’s Deemer statute though. This statute states if your auto insurer does business within the state of New Jersey you are subject to the restrictions of the “limitation on lawsuit” policy for New Jersey regardless of what kind of auto policy you bought in Pennsylvania. Thus your injuries must meet a “verbal threshold” in order for you to bring suit.
How do you meet this verbal threshold? According to the New Jersey statute N.J.S.A. 39:6A-8(a) you must have suffered one of the following injuries:
- Significant Disfigurement or Scarring
- Displaced Fracture
- Loss of a Fetus
- Permanent Injury (injury to a body part that has not and will not heal to function normally).
How do you prove you suffered one of these six injuries in a Philadelphia car accident? You will need a certification from your treating physician or a board-certified licensed physician to whom you were referred by your treating physician. The certification shall state, under penalty of perjury, that you have sustained one of the above six injuries. The certification shall be based on and refer to objective clinical evidence, which may include medical testing, except that any such testing shall be performed in accordance with medical protocols. You will need to provide this certification within 60 days a defendant responds, or answers, your complaint.
Therefore, unless you have the required certification from your doctor, as a Pennsylvania resident whose auto insurance company that does business in New Jersey, you could not go forward with an auto accident lawsuit. Injuries such as death, dismemberment, a displaced fracture, and loss of fetus will typically be easier to prove. Whereas significant scarring and disfigurement and a permanent injury to a body part may be less clear.
As a Pennsylvania resident who has been involved in an auto accident in New Jersey, you are not always subject to New Jersey’s “limitation on lawsuit” or “verbal threshold” laws though. If your insurance company does not do business in New Jersey, then if you purchased a Pennsylvania full tort auto policy you will have no limitations on your lawsuit. Likewise if you were involved with a commercial vehicle that does not maintain personal injury protection coverage you are not subject to New Jersey’s limitation on lawsuit requirements. One benefit a Pennsylvania resident has under New Jersey’s Deemer statute is you will have $250,000 in personal injury protection or medical benefits coverage if your auto insurance carrier does business in New Jersey. The $250,000 in medical benefits coverage applies regardless of the amount of medical benefits coverage you selected in your auto insurance policy.
The Thistle Law Firm is experienced in handling auto accident cases in both Pennsylvania and New Jersey. If you or a loved one was involved in an auto accident in either of these states, the attorneys at the Thistle Law Firm are here to take your call at 215-525-6824.