Car and truck accident victims, who are subject to verbal threshold, may not know that they may still bring lawsuits against negligent drivers so long as their injuries fall under one of the injury categories pursuant to New Jersey’s Automobile Insurance Cost Reduction Act (AICRA), N.J.S.A. 39:6A-8a.
Part 1 of this article series discussed the certification requirement by a medical physician, and part 2 of this article will discuss the proof plaintiffs are required to provide to overcome verbal threshold.
Verbal Threshold – Proof Necessary For Death and Dismemberment
For death and dismemberment, the New Jersey Courts have said that these types of injuries “define themselves.” Puso v. Kenyon, 2742 N.J. Super. 280, 290 (App. Div. 1994). In other words, the objective, credible evidence of these 2 types of injuries are clearly observable.
Verbal Threshold – Proof Necessary For Disfigurement or Scarring
Prior to the amendment of AICRA in 1998, scarring was not included in the injury category. However, the inclusion of scarring with disfigurement did not significantly change the proof necessary because lawsuits brought before 1998 included scarring as part of disfigurement.
Just like the death and dismemberment categories, the objective, credible evidence for disfigurement and scarring is in the injuries themselves, as they are clearly observable. However, pursuant to AICRA, the contested issue is how significant the disfigurement or scarring is.
In a New Jersey Supreme Court case, Soto v. Scaringelli, 189 N.J. 558, 574 (2007), the court stated that the test for whether disfigurement or scarring was “significant” is whether an objective reasonable person can come to the conclusion that the scar or disfigurement substantially “impairs or injures the beauty, symmetry, or appearance of a person, rendering the bearer unsightly, misshapen or imperfect, deforming [the person] in some manner.”
The court also provided other factors relevant to the inquiry such as:
• shape and size of the scar, and
• other cosmetic factors.
To see the evidence necessary to overcome the verbal threshold for displaced fractures, loss of fetus and permanent injuries for NJ car accident victims, click here to continue to read part 3 or this article series.
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