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What you don’t know about your automobile insurance can hurt you and your family in the event you are injured in a car accident. Below are some insights which you may not be aware of:
Tort Threshold/Limitation on Lawsuit Recovery
Believe it or not, there are times when attorneys have to turn down potential clients injured in a lawsuit solely based upon what they chose on their car insurance with regard to lawsuits. Most people are not even aware of the option and are given the default limitation on lawsuits. Under New Jersey law, if you have this limitation on lawsuits it means that you are barred from recovering money for pain and suffering unless your treating physician certifies under oath that you sustained a permanent injury. Permanent injuries include fractured bones (often only if they are displaced), disfiguring scarring, and loss of limbs; but often people suffer other kinds of injuries (e.g., herniated discs in the spine) which can be very debilitating but difficult to prove as permanent. If you do not want this limitation, be sure to let your insurance carrier know that you want the no limitation on lawsuit option. Be sure to ask how this affects your premiums; however, many times, you would be surprised at how little your premiums go up.
Another area of car insurance options that many people are not familiar with is their uninsured and underinsured coverage. There may be a time when you are injured in a car accident and the person who injured you does not have adequate insurance to cover your claim for personal injury. If that happens, you will be able to turn to your own insurance carrier to cover damages above the other driver’s insurance limit; however, often people have opted for minimal underinsured coverage and therefore there is little room for help. Similarly, if you are injured in an accident caused by a driver who does not stop at the accident and is never identified, that is considered an uninsured accident and you can make an uninsured claim against your own insurance company. Again, however, an uninsured claim is limited by whatever limits you have elected on your auto policy. As such, it is suggested that one carry $250,000 in uninsured/underinsured coverage. Again, make sure you know how this affects your premiums.
Medical Expenses Coverage
Lastly, many drivers do not realize that if they have health insurance, they can designate their health insurance policy as their primary source of medical care should they be injured in an automobile accident. In other words, if you are injured in a car accident, your health insurer would pay first, and your auto insurer would provide only secondary coverage through Personal Injury Protection (PIP).
The reason this can be important is if you need significant treatment, you may want more flexibility in terms of what doctors or medical facilities you want performing that treatment. Some health insurance policies allow such flexibility; some don’t — of course, you need to like your health insurance options in order for this to make sense.
To the extent that you do not like your health insurance coverage, you should keep your PIP coverage; however, make sure you have adequate coverage. Most New Jersey drivers buy $250,000 worth of PIP, which is fairly safe especially if you have health insurance to act as secondary coverage. However, make sure you have as least that $250,000 in PIP coverage, particularly if you don’t have health insurance; nothing could be worse than finding out after you’ve been hurt in a car accident that you can’t afford medical treatment because you have elected lower PIP coverage simply to lower your premiums.
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I retained attorney Steve Loewenthal to handle my personal injury case. Prior to our consultation, I was nervous and still unsure about what to do. Steve explained the law, my options, and addressed all my questions or concerns about going forward. He’s an extremely knowledgeable attorney who acts in a professional, respectful, and kind demeanor. He is direct and honest, does not make any ridiculous promises, or show any sign of unethical behavior. Before the depositions, he explained the process, took the time to calm my concerns/fears, but most importantly, instructed me to tell the truth. I am aware of some of the negative stereotypes assumed about personal injury attorneys; however, Steve exhibits NONE of these negative qualities.
If you are a sports fan, you will love his office! His has an amazing assistant who was also very helpful! I did not call often but when I did, she knew who I was and exchanged pleasantries. With integrity and expertise, Steve succeeded in effectively handling my case. I do not share my experiences often; but in this case, Steve Loewenthal definitely earned my trust, respect, and my recommendation!
Mr. Loewenthal represented me in a civil case. From the initial consultation to the settlement, Steve provided the most professional, knowledgeable and considerate level of service. Steve kept me informed every step of the way and took his time to explain each new development in the case.
Steve’s experience gave me confidence from the outset the case would be handled with expertise. He was able to coordinate between all parties involved and his negotiating skills resulted in a most favorable outcome. His staff was a pleasure to deal with and were very accommodating. Steve and his office went above and beyond and he comes with my highest recommendation. Thank You, Steve, for everything you did in handling my case.
Mr. Loewenthal took my automobile personal injury case after 2 other law firms turned me down because of car insurance reasons that couldn’t get me a settlement. In NJ, you only have 2 years after your date of accident to pursue personal injury damage. I went to Mr. Loewenthal with my case close to 3 months before the 2 year deadline to sue. He walked me through everything that was going to happen, assured me that we have a case and worked hard on my case and met the deadline to sue. When Mr. Loewenthal called me withe settlement number, I almost fell off of my chair. He got me way more than I thought was possible, for I thought I was getting nothing because of the other lawyers turning my case down. Needless to say, Mr. Loewenthal is a “Jackpot!” lawyer and I recommend him 101% to anyone who wants a real lawyer.
Steven John Loewenthal, I appreciated your expertise, integrity and thoroughness. I was referred to Mr Stevens L. after suffering an Injury during a car accident, my sincere Thanks to you for your excellent legal Representation, Mr Stevens is very knowledgeable proactive and accessible at every step. i do definitely recommended Mr Loewenthal working any kind of Personal Injury cases.
He’s a great listener and very thoroughly lawyer! Always email back right away! Highly recommend him!!!!