Under New Jersey's statutory scheme, residents of the state who are injured in an auto accident are bound by either the so-called "zero" or "no limitation on lawsuit" threshold, or the so-called "verbal threshold," a shorthand term used to describe the "limitation on lawsuit threshold."
The zero threshold permits an injured plaintiff to sue for noneconomic damages without limitation. The "verbal threshold," on the other hand, carries with it very different consequences. The verbal threshold stands as a potential bar to an injured plaintiff's suit for noneconomic injury.
Under the verbal threshold, injured plaintiffs are not permitted to receive damages for injuries sustained in an auto accident unless it can be proven with objective medical evidence that their injures fall into one of the following categories:
- Dismemberment (loss of a body part);
- Loss of a fetus;
- Significant disfigurement or significant scarring;
- Displaced fracture (simple fractures do not satisfy the threshold unless they cause a permanent injury after healing);
- Permanent injury, within a reasonable degree of medical probability.
The verbal threshold can present a serious barrier to obtaining compensation for personal injuries sustained in an automobile accident. If you or someone you know has been injured in an automobile accident, you should contact an experienced New Jersey personal injury and automobile accident lawyer who can determine whether you must satisfy the verbal threshold requirements, and whether there exists a basis for a claim.