ELIZABETH, NJ — June 23, 2022 – A New Jersey attorney representing victims of motor vehicle crashes today announced support for nine insurance reform bills moved forward by Nicholas Scutari (D).
“Unfortunately, many of my clients don’t necessarily understand what they’re buying when they purchase automobile insurance policies,” said Attorney Dan Matrafajlo of the Elizabeth law firm of Beninato & Matrafajlo. “Because New Jersey requires nominally low coverage limits, accident victims risk financial ruin due to inadequate medical coverage.”
Senate President Nicholas Scutari (D) introduced the legislation that addresses potential issues encountered by those who suffer injuries when they are involved in collisions involving private passenger or commercial vehicles.
Most NJ drivers have reduced automobile insurance premium costs by signing on to the Limitation on Lawsuit Threshold policy option. This means they can only pursue a lawsuit against a negligent driver in extreme circumstances.
NJ S-467 would allow injury victims to recover non-economic damages from drunk drivers, those who refuse a breathalyzer test, or reckless drivers, even if the injuries do not meet the verbal threshold requirements.
“The average emergency room cost alone in New Jersey is $3,087,” Matrafajlo shared. “With personal injury protection requirements as low as $15,000, follow-up care could easily exceed that number after a couple of diagnostic tests, treatments, or surgical intervention. Therefore, the legislature’s call (S-471) to increase the minimum coverage to $250,000 makes economic sense.”
Among the nine insurance reform bills, S-481 would require automobile insurance policies to include $50,000 minimums for liability, uninsured motorists, and underinsured motorist claims.
Matrafajlo said his clients are often shocked when they learn something as extreme as a loved one being killed in a motor vehicle crash could result in only a $15,000 recovery under current laws.
Owners of commercial vehicles will also need to raise minimum liability coverage to $1,500,000 if Senate Bill 2841 passes. New Jersey law now requires that businesses only maintain policies of $15,000 per person for bodily injury. The minimum amount caps off at $30,000 per accident for multiple accident victims.
“One only has to imagine the damages involved when a semi-truck or tractor-trailer operator causes a motor vehicle crash,” Matrafajlo suggested. “Accident victims deserve fair compensation, and the current requirements do not allow for the reality associated with permanent injuries.”
Matrafajlo pointed out that many automobile policyholders choose their health insurance for medical bills incurred due to motor vehicle crashes. The result creates a complicated situation that Senate Bills 2031 and 2254 seek to rectify.
One proposed new law would bar certain providers from receiving reimbursement from automobile insurers under personal injury protection coverage. The second bill prohibits selecting health insurance coverage as primary under personal injury protection coverage.
“The balance of the insurance reform bills contains additional means of protecting and enhancing the rights of motorists and accident victims,” shared Matrafajlo. “I encourage everyone to contact their local legislators and offer their support.”
Various insurance lobbyists have already begun fighting against the proposed reform bills – denying the upgrades and changes will help consumers in the long run. Instead, they claim increased premium costs negate the need for any modifications.
Matrafajlo regularly meets with families facing unforeseen tragedies and financial stress and welcomes the prospect of better protection for his clients.
“If these proposed laws result in everyone paying just a little bit extra for car insurance, they make perfect sense,” Matrafajlo said. “You never really recognize the importance of good coverage until you need it.”
Contact: Dan Matrafaljo
Phone: 908 325-3032
Email: [email protected]
Beninato & Matrafajlo Law
1207 East Grand Street
Disclaimer: The views, suggestions, and opinions expressed here are the sole responsibility of the experts. No TIMES OF SURAT journalist was involved in the writing and production of this article.