New York Personal Injury Attorneys
What is the Verbal, Lawsuit, or Tort Threshold?
The right of car accident victims in New Jersey to sue can be complicated by the type of coverage on the car they were in when hurt. When applying for auto insurance coverage, potential policyholders must choose one of two options that determine their ability to sue for pain and suffering following an accident injury:
- The Verbal, Lawsuit, or Tort Threshold Policy — also known as the “Limitation on Lawsuit” category.
- Zero or No Threshold Policy — also known as the “No Limitation on Lawsuit” category.
The premium on the verbal, lawsuit, or tort threshold policy is more affordable. Typically, insured drivers often choose that option when purchasing their policy, simply because it is cheaper. And if the owner fails to make a choice, the verbal threshold is the threshold automatically assigned to the policy.
Verbal, Lawsuit, or Tort Threshold Limitations
This type of coverage sets restricts an injured person’s a right to sue for damages based on the types of injuries that can be grounds for a pain and suffering claim. The law defines the injuries that qualify as:
- Significant disfigurement or scarring
- A displaced fracture
- Loss of a fetus
- Permanent injury within a reasonable degree of medical probability other than scarring or disfigurement. An injury is considered permanent when the body part, organ or both has not healed to function normally and will not heal to function normally with further medical treatment. This must be certified to by a treating physician.
The first five categories are relatively straightforward; most litigation involves the last type of injury, because insurance companies often dispute whether an injury is permanent that is permanent.
Proving a Permanent Injury
Meeting the threshold of a permanent injury requires a certification signed by the victim’s treating physician, the keyword being “treating,” as the injury cannot be certified by just any doctor. The doctor’s certification must describe the objective diagnostic or clinical evidence of a permanent injury suffered from the accident, in order for it to be the basis for filing a personal injury claim for pain and suffering. This requirement can complicate the process for some victims who are in pain from a soft-tissue injury like whiplash, for example, but are unable to obtain objective evidence that there is permanent damage. Additionally, some doctors are hesitant to sign a Certification of Permanent Injury out of reluctance to avoid testify in court, or write the necessary reports. The only way to ensure an injured victim’s right to a recovery is to choose the zero or no tort threshold policy, which allows them to sue for any injury suffered.
When the Verbal, Lawsuit, or Tort Threshold Does Not Apply
The “limitation on lawsuit” or “Verbal Threshold” does not apply in the following situations:
- Auto accident claim pursuing compensation only for medical bills and expenses, lost wages, or uninsured property damage.
- Worker’s compensation cases.
- Cases involving commercial insurance policies.
- Cases in which the injured party’s insurance carrier doesn’t do business in New Jersey.
Under the state’s no-fault law, your own car insurance policy (“personal injury protection” or “PIP” coverage) will pay for medical treatment and other out-of-pocket losses, no matter who caused the accident. The minimum amount of PIP coverage you are required to have is $15,000, but you may purchase additional coverage up to $250,000. If you have lower limits, and suffer a severe brain or spinal injury, your limits may automatically jump up to $250,000 until you are stabilized.
Speak to An Attorney Today
We have extensive experience representing clients who have been injured in New Jersey automobile accidents that are subject to the verbal, lawsuit, or tort threshold. Contact us to schedule your free consultation.