If you or a loved one has been involved in a car accident resulting in injuries, you may have heard the term ‘serious injury threshold.’ In some states, it is not possible to file a personal injury claim to recover losses unless your injuries cross the ‘serious injury threshold.’ In other words, you must have one or more of the injuries outlined in the law in order to file a claim against the at-fault driver.
New Jersey does have a serious injury threshold but the type of car insurance you or the driver carry partly determines if the threshold applies. The definition of New Jersey's serious injury threshold could have important ramifications on how much you are able to recover in compensation after an accident.
New Jersey’s No Fault Insurance System
New Jersey, and 11 other states like New York, have no-fault car insurance laws. In the state of New Jersey, no matter if you’re in Jersey City or Trenton, your primary insurer in the event of an accident is your own Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance -- regardless of who was at-fault in the accident. If you’re injured in an accident, your ability to file a claim outside of the no-fault system and seek compensation from the at-fault driver depends on the type of insurance you chose.
Under New Jersey’s car insurance system, drivers have the options for Basic or Standard coverage. If you’ve chosen Basic coverage, there may be very few options to file a claim against another driver, regardless of fault. If you have the Standard coverage option, you would also have an option for coverage with “Limitation on Lawsuit” or “No Limitation on Lawsuit.” Which type of coverage you have dictates under what circumstances you can file a claim against another driver.
Limitation on Lawsuit and the Serious Injury Threshold in New Jersey
If your car insurance has a “limitation on lawsuit” policy in New Jersey, you can only file a claim outside of the no-fault system if you have one or more specific injuries. Those injuries deemed to be serious injuries include:
- Loss of limbs or dismemberment
- Significant Disfigurement or Scarring
- Broken bones or fractures
- Loss of an unborn child
- Permanent Injury to a body part that will never heal
If you had family members in the vehicle who suffered injury in the accident, the same limitations would apply to them.
If you selected “no limitation on lawsuit”, the above list of injuries does not apply and you are free to pursue a claim against the at-fault driver regardless of a specific injury.
Exceptions to the Serious Injury Threshold
While there aren’t any exceptions to the serious injury threshold in New Jersey, per se, it can be difficult to determine if you have a valid claim with the help of an attorney. It may be possible that a third party bears some liability in the accident. For instance, if faulty brakes caused a vehicle to not be able to stop adequately, the defective car part manufacturer could be held liable.
Help with Your Car Accident Claim
If you’ve been injured in a car accident, we strongly advise you to contact our firm and speak with an experienced car accident attorney at once. It can be hard to determine if you have a case and what your options are without consulting with an attorney. Further, insurance companies -- even your own -- may devalue or deny your claim. An experienced car accident lawyer can negotiate with insurance companies and handle PIP arbitration.
At Brandon J. Broderick, Attorney at Law, we believe in exceptional client care, empathy, and results. That’s what makes us one of the top-rated car accident law firms in the area. With offices in New Jersey, New York, and Connecticut, we’ve got you covered. We have decades of experience championing for our clients and succeeding, even when other attorneys say there is no case and insurance adjusters deny or devalue your claim. Contact us today for a free consultation.