Since March of this year, the economy of New Jersey has been shut down. Citizens of our state have been under strict stay at home orders. Stay at home orders have decreased the number of motor vehicle accidents in New Jersey over the past several weeks. However, it is likely that the number of motor vehicle accidents will begin to increase as the economy beings to reopen, stay at home orders are lifted and people get back on the road.
Recent Car Accidents
Though the overall number of car accidents appears to have decreased over the past several months, news outlets have reported multiple very serious and even fatal car accidents. In many instances, the ability of New Jersey drivers to bring a lawsuit after a motor vehicle accident may depend on the seriousness of their injuries. This is due to a law called the verbal threshold, also known as the limitation on lawsuit option.
The verbal threshold or limitation on lawsuit option is an option that is selected by an individual when they are buying car insurance. When an individual is purchasing car insurance, they have two options. They can either pay for the unlimited tort option or they can opt for the limited tort or verbal threshold option. The verbal threshold option is less expensive and therefore the majority of individuals in the state of New Jersey do have this option under their insurance policy.
What does the Verbal Threshold Mean?
If you have the verbal threshold or limitation on lawsuit on your insurance policy, it means that your ability to bring a lawsuit for non-economic damages is limited unless your injuries fall within a specific category. These categories include, death, loss of a fetus, a compound fracture, significant scaring or a permanent injury. If the injured individual’s injury does not fit into one of these categories, the individual will be precluded from bringing a lawsuit for non-economic damages. Because permanent injury is the broadest category that can include a variety of injuries, this is often the disputed issue that is litigated in a civil lawsuit after a car accident occurs.
How is the Verbal Threshold Satisfied?
The verbal threshold is satisfied by the plaintiff, or the injured person, bringing forth objective medical evidence that their injuries fit into one of the above-mentioned categories. In the case of a permanent injury, a treating physician will have to detail what injury they believe to be permanent and how that injury is related to the motor vehicle accident.
Litigating a Car Accident Case
A car accident case starts with the plaintiff filing a complaint. The complaint details the allegations against all individuals and or businesses that the plaintiff believes is responsible for his or her injuries. The next general step is service of the complaint. Service of the complaint means that the filed complaint is physically served on the defendants. This is typically done by an individual, named a process server, personally delivering the complaint to the defendants. After service of the complaint, the defendants will be required to serve an answer to the complaint and file that answer with the court. Once the defendants answer the complaint, the parties will enter what is known as the discovery period. During the discovery period either party may ask written questions, may ask questions of all parties and witnesses in person at what are known as depositions, and may serve any and all other relevant evidence which includes but it not limited to, expert reports, medical reports, and other evidence which shows liability and the injured individual’s damages. After the discovery period, the matter may proceed to an arbitration and then a trial. During this entire period, either party may file motions which ask the court to order something within the litigation. Additionally, during this entire period, both parties may come to a settlement or an agreement as to how the case should be resolved.
Contact Us Today
If you or someone you know has been involved in a car accident in the state of New Jersey, call our office or click on the contact us tab. Our firm offers a free consultation to anyone who has been involved in a car accident or other personal injury matter including individuals who have been involved in a Monmouth County car accident. Additionally, our firm will only recover a legal fee if we successfully litigate your case and recover damages on your behalf.