NJ No Fault and Out-of-State Drivers
New Jersey has a No Fault law, and several people have asked us what this means if a person who lives and is insured in Pennsylvania gets into a car accident in New Jersey.
Under N.J.S.A. 39:6A-1 et seq. - the No Fault Law - each insured person goes to their own insurance carrier for payment of medical bills (and perhaps other types of damages, like collision, if the person has that type of coverage). This is not the same thing as going to your own carrier for other types of damages, like pain and suffering. Basically, what this means is that if there is a 2-car accident in NJ, and both drivers are insured and injured in the accident, each driver submits their own medical bills to their own insurance carrier.
Does it matter if one of the two drivers is insured in PA? Sometimes it does - sometimes it matters a lot - and sometimes it really does not matter at all. The No Fault law is very complicated.
Here are two interesting quirks in the law when one driver is from out of state:
1) PA insurance policies generally have a default amount of medical coverage of $10,000. N.J.S.A. 17:28-1.4 imposes on all insurers who are licensed to do business in New Jersey the obligation of providing New Jersey standard insurance limits (i.e. $250,000) to their customers pertaining to accidents that occur in New Jersey. However, the statute only goes into effect if the out-of-state insured gets into an accident while driving the insured vehicle in New Jersey. See Weiss v. Thomas, 274 N.J. Super. 37, 44 (App. Div. 1994).
2) NJ also has a default provision in all policies that states that the insured person cannot collect damages for pain and suffering unless they have one of the serious injuries listed in the No Fault law. Under the same reasoning above, the PA driver would have that same limitation IF they are insured by a company licensed to do business in NJ AND IF they are driving at the time of the accident.
Another interesting situation arises when the PA insured uses up all $10,000 of their medical expense benefits and then has outstanding medical bills. While some judges may disagree, many agree that the person could then sue the NJ driver for the outstanding bills. Also, if the PA driver was a passenger at the time of the accident, and they use up all of their PIP coverage, they could make a claim against the host vehicle's PIP policy and collect medical benefits up to the maximum of that policy, less a "credit" of the $10,000 that the PA resident's own insurer paid. Again, these situations are reserved for occasions when the PA resident is not insured by a company that is licensed to do business in New Jersey.
There are several things that you need to remember to do (and not to do) after an automobile accident. But if you would like to know whether you have a case for automobile negligence, what kind of value your case may have, and what you can expect, you should Contact Us for a FREE CONSULTATION with one of our attorneys. We have been protecting the rights of people injured in car accidents since 1922, and we are very experienced with automobile collision cases, especially in Passaic County, Bergen County, and Essex County, where out attorneys regularly appear in court and regularly interact with the lawyers for the insurance companies.
Remember, the insurance companies have teams of skilled attorneys who are aggressively representing their interests, and you should too.
Raff & Raff, LLP Attorneys at Law 30 Church Street Paterson, NJ 07505
Tel: (973) 742-1917 Fax: (973) 742-2454