All States Are Not Created Equal

As everyone is well aware New Jersey and Pennsylvania are neighboring states. As a result many citizens of each state travel across the border to the other state on a frequent basis. This is especially the case for those who live on the western side of New Jersey and the Eastern side of Pennsylvania. Most of this travel occurs in cars. Each of these states has a similar law concerning the right of an individual to make a claim or file a lawsuit when they are injured in a car accident as the result of another person’s negligence.

In New Jersey when you purchase auto insurance you must either choose an unlimited right to pursue a claim and file a lawsuit which is known as the No Limitation on Lawsuit option or a limited right to sue option which is called the Limitation on Lawsuit option. Obviously selecting the No Limitation option costs more money for enhanced benefits. For the lower cost the Limitation on lawsuit generally restricts a person from pursuing a claim unless their injuries are serious and permanent in nature.

In Pennsylvania when you purchase auto insurance you have a similar choice. The only major difference being the wording of the options. In Pennsylvania the unlimited right to sue is known as the Full Tort option and the limited right to sue is known as the Limited Tort option.

But the way that insurance and your right to sue selection is interpreted and treated when you cross the border into the neighboring state is completely different. When a New Jersey resident operates their car in Pennsylvania and is hurt in an accident they are afforded much greater protection and benefit then when a PA resident operates their car in New Jersey. The reason is that no matter what right to sue option a New Jersey resident has on their policy when they get in an accident in Pennsylvania, the laws of Pennsylvania treat that individual as if they have an unlimited right to sue. This is a significant benefit to most New Jersey drivers who have paid less and carry the limited right to sue option on their policy. Even though they chose a more restrictive and cheaper policy this does not apply when the accident occurs in Pennsylvania.

Unfortunately when Pennsylvania residents drive in New Jersey their right to bring a claim is greatly restricted. This is the case even if as a Pennsylvania resident you paid the extra premium to have the added benefit of the Full Tort and an unlimited right to sue. The reason for this is that New Jersey law states that when a vehicle from another state is driven in N.J. and is insured by a company which sells insurance in N.J. that the policy is automatically transformed into one providing N.J. benefits. Included in this transformation is a N.J. law that burdens all out of state drivers whose insurance also does business in N.J. with the limited right to sue option regardless of what selection they made and paid for in their home state. So as any out of state driver including one from Pennsylvania you are significantly restricted in your right to sue if injured in an accident in N.J. even though you did everything you could to protect yourself when you purchased your insurance policy.

This may seem unfair yet is the current state of the law in these respective states. The moral is that not all states are created equal when it comes to the rights of those injured in car accidents.