In a prior blog, we discussed a New Jersey Supreme Court decision barring accident victims from recovering their medical expenses from the negligent driver causing the injury. The plaintiff in that case had chosen a $15,000.00 personal injury protection (PIP) limit on his insurance, and the Court stated that therefore, he was limited to recovering a maximum of $15,000.00 for his medical expenses related to the accident from the other driver’s insurance company, where his expenses were far in excess of that limit and where the other driver was responsible for the accident. We invited the Legislature to step up and right this wrong.
Fortunately, the Legislature did recently act to resolve this unfair result. The applicable statute was amended to specifically permit an injured party to recover uncompensated medical expenses (in excess of the PIP limit) from the negligent driver. Medical fee schedules will be established by the State for health care providers, who will be limited to the amounts on the schedules. Further, the injured party will be able to seek reimbursement of insurance deductibles and co-payments, as well as medical liens asserted by a health insurance company related to the treatment of injuries sustained in the accident. Finally, the injured party will be permitted to recover attorneys fees incurred in any lawsuit to recover the medical expenses from the negligent driver’s insurance company.
This is a great day for New Jersey drivers. Our Legislature has acted to bring fairness to the automobile insurance system, particularly to serve those who are least able to afford the medical costs incurred in the treatment of their injuries.