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Does NJ Title 59 allow for reimbursement of out-of-pocket expenses beyond a collision repair deductible?

Wall, NJ |

My wife and children were rear-ended by a township school bus while sitting at a stop sign. Because of Title 59, we are seeking only reimbursement from the township/insurer for our reasonable out-of-pocket expenses (including $450.00 for emergency room visit deductibles alone), 1 day of wage losses, and a collision repair deductible. We have been told by the township's insurer that they will only pay our $500 collision deductible. Is this lawful? We can incur losses of at least 4 or 5 times this amount due to their driver's negligence, and we have to eat it because of Title 59?

Attorney Answers 3


When injuries are not severe enough to allow a person to collect money for pain and suffering, a municipality would still be liable for actual economic damages. If there is collision coverage, then the deductible is the only thing that is still outstanding (unless there are also bills for things like towing, rental, etc. that were not paid by the collision carrier). Only the collision insurance carrier may go after the municipality for the costs that they paid beyond the deductible. But deductibles and co-pays that were paid by PIP (like the hospital deductible) are NOT recoverable, no matter what. That's not due to Title 59, but rather it is stated in the No Fault Law. It is an exception to the general rule that states that deductibles normally are recoverable. Wage losses that were proximately caused by a collision are also recoverable, but if they were reimbursed due to sick/vacation time the carrier will likely not pay, at least at first. It is always my position that sick/vacation days have a value, to if they are used to take time off after an accident, there is still a valid claim for lost wages. But many insurance adjusters are not eager to agree.

This is just some general legal information. If you need legal advise, you will need to contact an attorney.

Best of luck and feel better.

Dan Levy

This posting is just general legal INFORMATION and not legal ADVICE. Only your attorney can provide legal advice. If you would like actual advice about your particular case, please contact me for a consultation.

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Public entities do have special protections under Title 59, and it appears you are aware that your wife and children can only make a claim for pain and suffering if they suffered permanent injury or disfigurement.

With regard to economic loses, such as poperty damage deductible and lost wages, you can make a claim for these items even when you are not presenting a pain and suffering claim. The out-of-pocket medical expenses are not recoverable. Under our NJ No-Fault law, the accident victim is responsible for their own medical bills, including medical deductible/co pays.

Under Title 59, there are specific requirements on how to present a claim against a public entity, including presenting the notice of claim within 90 days from the date of the accident. You may wish to speak to an attorney to make sure the notice requirements have been met. Thank you.

These comments are provided as a public service and are not intended to constitute legal advice without a consultation. No attorney-client relationship has been created.

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Under the combination of Title 59 and NJ Auto No Fault laws, you can only recover your deductible, and your one day of wages. In 1998, NJ passed AICRA - the Autombile Insurance Cost Reduction Act, and a few years later, it was determined by our Supreme Court that the co-pays and deductibles you incurred for your own medical bills are not recoverable from a negligent driver - whether that is a Title 59 driver or just any type of driver. It is a bitter pill for many clients to swallow - especially for those who carry higher deductibles.

Also, under Title 59, there is a requirement that you use any avauilable isnurance 1st before submission to the public entiuty, which is why in this sitution, you would be capped at the unpaid property damage deductible.

Each case is fact senstive, so all answers should be viewed as general advice only, and should never replace a thorough and in depth consultation with an experienced attorney. Further, an answer should not be seen as establishing an attorney-client relationship.

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