NJ Legislation Passes to Help Car Accident Victims Recover Damages
By Lynn Fugaro, Staff Writer
Good news for drivers in the Garden State: Two pieces of legislation to help injured motorists recover damages following car accidents were signed into law on August 15 by New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy. NJ Senator Nicholas Scutari sponsored both pieces of legislation. The first piece of legislation, S-2432, confirms that “economic loss,” as defined in the “New Jersey Automobile Reparation Reform Act,” known also as the “no-fault law,” could include uncompensated medical expenses.
The second piece of legislation, S-3963, will “revise the law concerning recovery of unreimbursed medical expenses as economic loss in civil action for damages arising from an automobile accident,” according to an article on the Insider NJ website.
What makes the passing of Scutari’s legislation so remarkable is that it overturns a previous Supreme Court ruling that prohibited car accident victims from recovering medical expenses from the defendants in those cases. Senator Scutari (D-Middlesex/Somerset/Union counties) said on the day the bills were signed, “Today’s action is a clear win for consumers and accident victims in New Jersey allowing them to be made whole if injured by the negligence of others.”
S-2432 will allow an injured car accident victim to “recover, as part of the recovery of uncompensated economic loss, all medical expenses that exceed, or are unpaid or uncovered by any injured party’s automobile insurance medical PIP (Personal Injury Protection) coverage, regardless of any health insurance coverage.”
The New Jersey “No Fault Act” requires every standard automobile insurance policy to provide PIP coverage; however, the PIP amount can range from $15,000 to $250,000 per person per motor vehicle accident. The default option for standard coverage is $250,000, and drivers have to elect to carry less if they wish to do so. New Jersey law also allows basic policies where drivers have a PIP limit of $15,000.
S-2432 will take effect immediately and will apply to all legal action pending or filed afterward.
This new law just signed by Governor Murphy is a revision of an existing law concerning unreimbursed medical bills and will “permit a party injured in an automobile accident to recover, as part of the recovery of uncompensated economic loss, all unreimbursed medical expenses not covered by the personal inquiry protection (PIP) limits applicable to the injured party and sustained by the injured party.” S-3963 goes into effect immediately and is applicable to motor vehicle accidents occurring on or since August 1, 2019.
Senator Nicholas Scutari
Senator Scutari has been with the New Jersey State Senate since 2004 and has represented the 22nd Legislative District since that time. He may be best known for being the chief sponsor of New Jersey's Medical Marijuana law, which was signed into law in 2009; he has been an advocate for the legalization of marijuana for people over the age of 21. Scutari introduced a “bill in May 2017 to legalize, regulate, and tax recreational marijuana use; while then-Governor Chris Christie was opposed to the measure, incoming governor Murphy announced he would support legalization of marijuana.”