What Happens to PA and NJ Drivers Who Get in Car Accidents Out of State?

October 19th, 2022

photo of the ben franklin bridge

Every day, Pennsylvania residents travel to New Jersey and vice versa. Whether you’re traveling for work or pleasure, accidents can and do happen. When you’re insured, you usually think about whether your medical bills and vehicle damage costs are covered. However, every time you cross the bridge, your legal rights change and can impact how much you’re able to recover, regardless of the coverage you have through your insurance policy.

If you or a loved one frequently travels in and out of Pennsylvania and New Jersey, it is vital to know each state’s policies as they have drastic differences that could positively or negatively impact your insurance claim following a car accident.

Policies and Terms to Know 

Before diving into the repercussions of out-of-state accidents, you must understand the following policies and terms:

Full tort vs. limited tort – If you are ever involved in an accident that is not your fault, full tort allows you to sue the driver at fault for any pain and suffering they may have caused. In other words, full tort allows you to seek compensation if an accident causes an injury, however big or small, in addition to lost wages and out-of-pocket medical expenses. On the other hand, limited tort allows you to recover your out-of-pocket expenses but may prevent you from recovering for your pain & suffering, unless you suffer death, disfigurement or a serious injury. What you consider serious, what the insurance company considers serious, and what a jury may consider serious may be very different. Don’t take that chance!

Verbal threshold – The verbal threshold, sometimes referred to as the limitation on lawsuit coverage, is set by the New Jersey state legislature in an attempt to reduce the cost of car insurance and limit an individual’s ability to sue for pain and suffering. An individual’s injuries must fall under at least one of the six exceptions before they can sue the party at fault — death, dismemberment, significant disfigurement or scarring, displaced fractures, loss of a fetus, or permanent injury. If you live in New Jersey, we recommend you carry NO limitation on lawsuit coverage to ensure you can always recover for your injuries.

Deemer Statute – The Deemer Statute was passed by the State of New Jersey and limits nonresidents’ ability to obtain a full recovery for their pain & suffering. If an out-of-state driver is involved in an accident in New Jersey and their insurance company is qualified to do business in the state, they are “deemed” a New Jersey driver and must follow their policies.

PA Drivers Who Get in a Car Accident in NJ

Attorneys and clients face issues when a Pennsylvania resident gets in an accident in New Jersey because the moment a Pennsylvania driver crosses the bridge into New Jersey, the Deemer Statute comes into play. This means if you are a Pennsylvania driver and you get into a car accident in New Jersey, you would have to follow the state’s verbal threshold policy — similar to Pennsylvania’s limited tort — even if you have full tort coverage with your insurance company in Pennsylvania.  What does that mean? It means even though you have Full Tort in Pennsylvania, you may not be able to recover for your pain & suffering.

The only way a nonresident can avoid New Jersey’s automatic limited tort policy is if their car insurance company does not do business in New Jersey. So, if your insurance company (including parent companies and subsidiaries) isn’t authorized to do business in New Jersey and you have full tort coverage in Pennsylvania, you are able to recover for your pain & suffering.

NJ Drivers Who Get in a Car Accident in PA

When New Jersey residents cross the bridge into Pennsylvania, even if they have verbal threshold/limitation on lawsuit coverage with their car insurance company, they’re eligible to receive full tort benefits when they are the victim of an accident in Pennsylvania.

Hire a Car Accident Attorney for Out of State Accidents

Going back and forth between Pennsylvania and New Jersey is such a typical occurrence that many people aren’t thinking about their legal rights if they are to get in a car accident. Hiring a car accident attorney familiar with each state’s policies and the exceptions that fall under limited tort/verbal threshold coverage is critical to you receiving the compensation you deserve.

If you are a Pennsylvania driver injured in a car accident in New Jersey or a New Jersey driver injured in a car accident in Pennsylvania, contact the car accident lawyers at Flager & Associates today by calling (215) 953-5200. We provide free case evaluations.

Adam Flager, Esq.Written by Adam D. Flager, Esq., Associate at Flager & Associates, PC

With his practice focused on litigation, Adam primarily represents clients in personal injury cases, such as motor vehicle, slip and fall, defective products, and construction and worksite accidents. He is licensed to practice in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the State of New Jersey, the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, the District of New Jersey, and the United States Court of Appeals, 3rd Circuit. Adam received his J.D. from Widener University School of Law in 2009, where he graduated with pro-Bono Distinction.

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