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Limited vs. unlimited right to sue under NJ no-fault insurance law

In previous posts, we began looking at the issue of comparative fault as it pertains to pedestrian accidents, then moved on to broaden out the discussion to comparative fault as it relates to auto accident liability. We left off by mentioning that the difference between basic and standard auto insurance policies in New Jersey is that the former involve a limited right to sue a party for damages, while the latter involve an unlimited right to sue.

Again, it is important to remember that the choice regarding the extent of a motorist’s ability to sue an at-fault motorist pertains only to non-economic losses, since economic damages are covered by the personal injury protection aspect of New Jersey auto insurance. Economic losses, such as medical expenses and lost wages, are paid up to the limit of a motorist’s personal injury protection coverage amount. 

The difference between the unlimited right to sue and the limited right to sue is that the limited right to sue prevents a motorist from suing an at-fault driver for pain and suffering unless the motorist suffers certain types of serious injury. These include:  loss of a body part; serious disfigurement or scarring; permanent injury; loss of a child in the womb; or a displaced fracture. Fatality is also a legitimate grounds for litigation under a limited right to sue. By contrast, an unlimited right to sue allows a motorist to sue for pain and suffering for any injury at all.

In our next post, we’ll wrap up this discussion with some comments on how an attorney can help a motorist obtain coverage and damages due to them under their policy or at law.

Source: New Jersey Department of Banking and Insurance, “Everything you wanted to know about auto insurance but were afraid to ask?,” Governor Chris Christie, Lt. Governor Kim Guadagna, Commissioner Ken Kobylowski, Accessed Jan. 8, 2015. 

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