On June 20, 2022, NJCJI’s President, Anthony Anastasio, testified before the Senate Commerce Committee on Senate Bill 467 (S467). Part of a package of automobile insurance legislation advanced by Senate President Nicholas Scutari, S467 seeks to alter a New Jersey law that allows drivers to choose to limit their ability to bring accident lawsuits for non-economic damages in exchange for a lower auto insurance premium. That option, commonly known as the “verbal threshold,” can still be overcome if an injured driver suffers serious injuries. The law in its current state has been effective at containing automobile insurance costs in New Jersey and limiting time-consuming litigation for New Jersey’s courts.
However, S467 would allow anyone injured in a car accident that happened to be caused by someone convicted of drunk or reckless driving at the time of the accident to automatically bypass the verbal threshold, despite the choice they made when they purchased their car insurance and no matter how minor the injuries. This change will lead to increased auto accident litigation and in turn, higher insurance premiums for drivers in New Jersey.
Despite heavy opposition by both the business community and consumer advocacy groups, the Senate Commerce Committee voted favorably on S467 and the rest of the bills in the package. These bills will now be sent for a second reading in the Senate. So far, no counterpart to S467 been introduced in the Assembly, but other bills from this package have counterparts in the Assembly. NJCJI will continue to update its membership on this package of legislation.