Chipped Tooth Not A Displaced Fracture Under NJ Personal Injury Law

In New Jersey, an auto insurance policy holder who opts for limitation on lawsuit threshold – verbal threshold – limited tort on their NJ car insurance policy can only recover for pain, suffering, and inconvenience, if he or she suffers one or more of the following injuries:

1. Death

2. Dismemberment

3. Significant disfigurement

4. Significant scarring

5. Displaced fractures

6. Loss of a fetus

7. A permanent injury within a reasonable degree of medical probability, other than scarring or disfigurement

The question presented in this case was “Is a chipped tooth considered a displaced fracture under NJ car accident – personal injury law (the Automobile Insurance Cost Reduction Act – AICRA)?NJ statutory law does not define the term “displaced fracture”. Medical books define a displaced fracture as a complete separation of a bone. Prior NJ case law has associated the words “displaced fracture” with a broken bone. >The NJ Supreme Court finally ruled in this case that the NJ legislature did not intend chipped teeth to fall into the category of “displaced fractures” under NJ car accident – personal injury law (the Automobile Insurance Cost Reduction Act, AICRA).

The high Court also commented that it did not matter whether the chipped tooth was minimally or substantially chipped. Do you think this was a fair interpretation of the law?

The Court did confirm that once you have one type of injury that vaults the NJ verbal threshold – limited tort restriction in an NJ personal injury case, then all the injuries from the case can be decided by a jury, not just the injury that got the plaintiff over the verbal threshold – limited tort restriction.