Verbal Threshold Applied in New Jersey Motor Vehicle Case

In Michael Systma v. John Serignese, the 22-year-old plaintiff was living in Manhattan on a one-month lease set to expire on September 30, 2009.  On September 13, 2009, the pedestrian plaintiff was struck by a motor vehicle.  At the scene of the accident, plaintiff provided his parents’ mailing address to the responding officers, and used their address in the  emergency room.  Plaintiff received PIP benefits under his parents’ automobile insurance policy, since he did not own his own vehicle or maintain his own auto insurance.  Plaintiff filed a personal injury suit against the driver.  Defendant argued that plaintiff was subject to the verbal threshold, since his parents’ policy elected the limitation on lawsuit provision. Plaintiff argued that he did not live with his parents at the time of the accident, and therefore should not be subject to the verbal threshold in their auto policy. The Appellate Court held that due to plaintiff’s temporary short term lease, and use of his parents’ mailing address, plaintiff should be considered a resident of his parents’ household, and subject to the limitation on lawsuit provision in their policy.

Special thanks to Heather Aquino for her contribution to this post.  For more information contact cfuchs@wcmlaw.com.