Insurance Company Deception is Alive and Well in New Jersey

This week one of New Jersey’s leading auto insurance companies, New Jersey Manufacturers Insurance Company (NJM), announced a record-breaking Special Dividend of approximately $132 million. According to NJM, this marks the 14th consecutive year that the Company is sending policyholders dividend checks, and it nearly doubles the Special Dividend issued at this time last year.

This “special dividend” is clear and substantial proof that NJ auto insurance companies have misled the public, including NJ residents and consumers.

If you have been following this law blog, you will know that I was part of a team of lawyers who fought an NJ limited tort/verbal threshold car accident case all the way to the NJ Supreme Court. This case was titled Serrano v. Serrano.

Back in 2004 and 2005, we asked the NJ Appellate Division and the NJ Supreme Court to rule on whether the limited tort/verbal threshold law contained the requirement that a plaintiff must prove that an injury that had a ‘significant impact on his or her life’ in order to recover damages for their pain and suffering.

NJ auto insurance companies claimed that the NJ limited tort/verbal threshold statute contained an “invisible” requirement that a plaintiff must prove that an injury that had a “significant impact on his or her life.”

NJ car insurance companies, including NJM also claimed that if the NJ Supreme Court ruled that this “invisible” part of the law did not exist, i.e. plaintiffs did not have to prove that the injuries from their NJ car accident had a ‘significant effect on their lives,’ then NJ car insurance rates would go through the roof. There were some claims that NJ car insurance companies would go out of business.

WHAT A CROCK!

The NJ Supreme Court ruled in our favor stating that NJ insurance companies cannot read requirements into the NJ limited tort/verbal threshold law that are not part of the written law. There is no requirement that a plaintiff prove that his or her injuries had a ‘significant impact on his or her life’ to satisfy the NJ limited tort/verbal threshold law.

In the past few years NJ car insurance company profits continued to increase as shown above. These types of lies and deception taint our jury pool. How do you think these NJ insurance companies should be punished for their lies and deception?