N.J. Deemer Statute

When can an Out-of-State Resident bind a Plaintiff to the Verbal Threshold?

The N.J. car accident story

Ed, a Pennsylvania resident, is driving down a highway in New Jersey. At the same time,  Roslyn is roaring down the same highway behind Ed. Since Larry’s personal injury law states two (2) motor vehicles cannot occupy the same space at the same time, Roslyn, a Pennsylvania resident,  slams her vehicle into the rear end of Ed’s vehicle.  A painful way for two (2) Pennsylvania residents to meet on a highway in New Jersey.

Ed suffered the normal bumps and bruises, consisting of sprains, strains, lacerations, and contusions of a non-permanent nature. Ed attended physical therapy for about 5 months, and suffered through two trigger point injections.

The Deemer Statute, N.J.S.A. 17:28-1.4 vs. The Limitation of Lawsuit Threshold, 39:6A-8

Ed purchased auto insurance from State Farm, an insurance company authorized to do business in New Jersey. Pursuant to the Deemer Statute, Ed is eligible to receive N.J. No Fault Insurance Benefits, and  is deemed to be covered by the Verbal Threshold.Ed’s lawyer concedes his injuries do not qualify for non-economic damages under the N.J. Verbal Threshold, if Roslyn is an individual who is entitled to bind Ed to the Verbal Threshold.

Roslyn purchased her auto insurance from an insurance company that was not authorized to do business in New Jersey. According to N.J.S.A. 39:6A-8, she was neither a person mandated by the N.J. No Fault Act to maintain No Fault Insurance coverage on her Pennsylvania vehicle; nor is she an individual who is eligible for PIP benefits.

How did the N.J. Supreme Court rule?

The plain language of the statutes makes clear that an out-of-state defendant who is not eligible to receive New Jersey PIP benefits may be sued for pain and suffering damages without regard to the threshold… A defendant who causes an automobile accident and is not eligible for PIP benefits cannot bind a plaintiff to the limitation-on-lawsuit threshold set forth in N.J.S.A. 39:6A-8(a). Under the Deemer Statute, Ed could have been subject to the limitation-on-lawsuit threshold because he had no qualifying injury under N.J.S.A. 39:6A-8(a). In this case, however, he is not statutorily barred from recovering pain and suffering damages because Roslyn is ineligible to collect New Jersey PIP benefits.

Summary judgment reversed and remanded.

N.J. Car Accident Lawyer

Ssssh....I'm thinking

Commentary

Ed wins. Roslyn cannot bind Ed to the Verbal Threshold because she is an out-of-state resident, whose automobile is covered by an insurance company not authorized to do business in New Jersey; and is not subject to the Deemer Statute. Ergo, Ed is permitted to sue Roslyn for his non-economic damages and recover compensation for the value of his injuries.

Any relief from the Verbal Threshold is a good thing. It is also the fair thing in cases like this. To receive the benefit of the Verbal Threshold, an individual must be responsible for the burden of carrying PIP coverage.

This fact pattern is based upon the N.J. Supreme Court decision:

EDWARD ZABILOWICZ,

      Plaintiff-Appellant,

               v.

ROSLYNE KELSEY,

      Defendant-Respondent.

DECIDED             December 17, 2009
                Chief Justice Rabner                               PRESIDING
OPINION BY          Justice Albin
CONCURRING/DISSENTING OPINIONS BY
DISSENTING OPINION BY

                                    REVERSE AND
CHECKLIST
                                      REMAND
CHIEF JUSTICE RABNER                       X
                                ------------------------   -----------------------
JUSTICE LONG
                                          X
JUSTICE LaVECCHIA
                                          X
JUSTICE ALBIN
                                          X
JUSTICE WALLACE
                                          X
JUSTICE RIVERA-SOTO
                                          X
JUSTICE HOENS
TOTALS                                     6
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About Lawrence "Larry" Berezin

I retired from the private practice of law after a 35-year legal career and fight parking tickets for people like you and me. I love sharing valuable information, tips and tricks to help drivers beat NYC parking tickets.

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