If you are a New Jersey driver/owners who has no idea what a tort threshold is, this post is for you! Let’s say you are stopped at a red light, minding your own business, when your car is slammed in the rear by another automobile. Lot’s of rear end damage to your auto, and lot’s of pain in your neck and back. You are taken by ambulance to the emergency room of the nearest hospital. X-rays were negative. You are told by the doctor that you have severe sprains, strains and contusions in your neck and back. He recommended that you follow up with an orthopedist.
About four days later, you are still out of work and your pain is worse. You’ve already seen an orthopedist, who referred you for physical therapy and testing. The doctor advises you to stay out of work until your next visit in three weeks, when he will re-evaluate your injuries.
You make an appointment to see a negligence lawyer to find out if you have a car accident case against the other driver. You are seated in the lawyer’s office. Nice guy (I added that) and after introductions and some general questions, the lawyer asks, “What is your tort threshold?” You mind goes blank. What is this guy talking about. You reply, “What is a tort threshold? I have full coverage on my car”. End of your case. Why?
A New Jersey resident, who has an automobile registered in his name that is principally garaged in New Jersey, is required to maintain insurance coverage on his automobile. Most people we interview following a car accident know this. But, here’s where it gets sticky. 90% of our new client’s who are injured in a car accident, do not know what a tort threshold is; let alone which tort threshold they “selected”.
It is critical that you make an informed decision about which tort threshold you select, because your choice of tort threshold determines:
- Whether you can sue the other driver/owner in an automobile accident for your pain and suffering
- Whether your immediate family members residing in your household can bring a claim against another driver/owner for their pain and suffering
Here’s your choice:
The Limitation on Lawsuit Tort Threshold. You agree to limit your right to sue for your pain and suffering in a car accident, unless you sustain serious personal injuries that fall into certain enumerated categories; in exchange for a reduction in your auto insurance premium. These categories are: serious injuries which your physician certifies are permanent in nature, death, dismemberment, loss of a fetus, displaced fracture or an injury that results in significant disfigurement or scarring.
The No Limitation on Lawsuit Tort Threshold. You choose to pay a higher car insurance premium because you do not wish to limit your right to sue; nor limit the right of your immediate family members residing in your household to sue for pain and suffering, if they are injured in an auto accident.
Our goal is education. The choice of tort threshold is yours. Please make it an informed choice because it significantly impacts you and your immediate family members residing in your household. What tort threshold did you choose? Do you know what a tort threshold is? Please share your experiences; or ask an expert you trust questions about the impact of your choice of tort thresholds.