Governor Murphy Signs New Law to Impact Car Accident Injury Victims

New Jersey governor Phil Murphy recently passed a lawthat erases rules that previously “slammed New Jersey auto accident victims with up to $250,000 in medical bills” for accidents that were not the victim’s fault. The law is designed to help those who purchase cheaper auto insurance plans that can leave them with insurmountable amounts of debt in the event of a car accident.

In addition to a comprehensive $250,000 personal injury protection plan that comes with most New Jersey car insurance policies, the state also permits a less expensive option that only covers up to $15,000 in personal injury protection. While this option can be a less costly month-to-month alternative, it can set drivers back tens of thousands of dollars even if they are not at fault for their accident.

The legal action has been inspired by the story of 27-year-old Josh Haines, a New Jersey resident who was saddled with tens of thousands of dollars in debt after a car accident he was involved in eight years ago. According to Josh, “’I’m left in the dark … this was eight years ago and it’s still setting me back.’” In 2011, Josh was driving from Camden County Community College when he was struck by a vehicle that was hydroplaning. His medical bills totaled $30,000, which is nearly double what his less-expensive insurance plan covered.

New Jersey’s no-fault insurance policy can often be difficult to navigate. Being one of the few states that follow the no-fault insurance system, your own insurance company must cover your medical expenses and other expenses that result as a consequence of your car accident. Fortunately, this system allows for medical expenses to be paid quickly to avoid a delay in receiving your reimbursement for out-of-pocket medical bills and other expenses.

There are several limitations of the no-fault insurance system regarding car accident injuries in the State of New Jersey. For example, if you elect the tort threshold, only in the most serious injuries can the no-fault policy provide you with the legal right to sue for pain and suffering in addition to other traditional expenses and damages associated with the case. This is one of the flaws associated with the no-fault insurance system in New Jersey.

In a no threshold policy, the policyholder retains the right to sue the person who caused the accident. On the contrary, in a tort threshold policy, there is an established arrangement that dictates that the policyholder does not retain the right to sue the party who caused the accident for pain and suffering damages unless their injuries meet the injury threshold. On the contrary, under a typical basic insurance policy, bodily injury liability is not included but can be added as an option up to $10,000 for all persons. Property damage is limited to $5,000/accident. Similar to the standard policy, personal injury protection in a basic insurance policy can range from $15,000/person to over $250,000/person in the event of certain injuries. Lastly, the holder of a standard insurance policy has the option to select a limited right to sue the person who caused the accident. Unlike a standard policy, there is no option to select an unlimited right to sue the party that caused the accident. As you can see, the basic policy has a more limited scope that offers less protection for the policyholder, though at a reduced cost.

At Aretsky Law Group P.C., our team of Bergen County car accident attorneys can help you navigate the often complex legal matters that arise from this unique insurance system.

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