Earlier this year, we blogged about a New Jersey Supreme Court case that forbids people injured in car accidents whose medical bills exceeded the value of their insurance policy’s PIP benefits from suing the driver who caused a car accident for additional compensation. We said this ruling would cause problems for people who tried to minimize the cost of their insurance coverage unless New Jersey lawmakers fixed our state’s laws. Now, a couple of bills that would once again allow these lawsuits are sitting on Governor Phil Murphy’s desk.
What’s Going On?
Until recently, drivers whose medical bills exceeded the value of their insurance policy’s PIP (Personal Injury Protection) benefits could sue the other driver for additional compensation. A ruling from the New Jersey Supreme Court now forbids such suits. So, if you tried to minimize the cost of your insurance, you may be stuck paying off large medical bills even if the accident you were in was not your fault.
Purchasing the minimum amount of PIP coverage required by law, $15,000, may have been a good decision at the time you bought your policy, but the court’s new ruling means you may not be able to get more than $15,000 if you are injured in a car accident with an uninsured or underinsured driver, no matter who was at fault. In other words, any medical bills above your PIP limits may be your responsibility even if you did not cause the accident.
We Think This Is Wrong
We don’t think this is fair, and neither do our state legislators, who passed two bills that will once again allow underinsured motorists to sue the parties responsible for causing them harm. This legislation is now sitting on Gov. Murphy’s desk, awaiting his signature or his veto pen.
If Murphy signs the bills, drivers will once again be able to sue other drivers for medical costs exceeding insurance policy limits. If Murphy vetoes this legislation, the legislature could attempt to override the veto, or they could tweak the language and attempt to pass it again in the next legislative session
We will be keeping a close eye on these bills because they may have a huge impact on the work we do and the advice we give our clients. Whether underinsured motorists can seek justice is no small matter.
What Does This Mean For Me?
Now more than ever, it is critical that you pay close attention to exactly what sort of coverage your insurance policies provide.
If you need help determining if your current policy provides the sort of coverage you want, or you want advice before shopping for a new policy, don’t hesitate to give our office a call.
We have lots of experience combing through the details of various insurance policies, and we are happy to share the knowledge we have gained with our clients.
Posted in: Car Accidents