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Haines v. Taft: Bad News for New Jersey Drivers, Good News for Insurance Companies

On March 26, 2019, New Jersey’s Supreme Court issued a decision on Haines v Taft that comes as bad news for drivers with low Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage on their auto insurance policy. If you have New Jersey’s minimum PIP limit ($15,000) and you suffer injuries from an auto accident, you will not be able to recover medical expenses that exceed that limit. 

An Appellate Court ruling previously stated plaintiffs could use evidence of outstanding medical bills exceeding their PIP coverage as support for fault-based claims of economic damages. The decision was ultimately overturned in New Jersey’s Court of last resort, however. This is bad news for low-income drivers with limited insurance coverage.

Check your auto insurance policy to see if it has a limitation-on-lawsuit option. If it does, your legal ability to obtain compensation for injuries sustained during a car accident is sharply restricted. You will need to provide objective proof that a non-monetary “threshold” was reached as a result of your injuries. This is known as the “Verbal Threshold Limit,” which allows motorists to waive their right to insurance coverage for “pain and suffering” damages

In the video below, we list the six exceptions to the verbal threshold that would allow plaintiffs to recover non-economic damages or “pain and suffering” compensation.

Most of the injuries that qualify as “exceptions” to the Verbal Threshold in New Jersey are uncommon in car accidents. The broadest and most common category on that list is “permanent injury,” but a doctor must provide sworn testament and clinical evidence supporting your claim of a permanent injury. As it turns out, doctors frequently testify in favor of the insurance companies, while plaintiffs typically have a hard time finding a doctor willing to provide sworn testimony.

Have you sustained injuries from an auto accident? Call us for free legal advice!

The Law Offices of Vincent J. Ciecka, P.C. is committed to supporting accident victims and helping clients obtain their due compensation. We’ve represented over 11,000 clients since our founding over 40 years ago, and we’re not stopping anytime soon. Contact us for legal advice regarding personal injury, workplace accidents, product liability, and more!