Pezzano Mickey & Bornstein, LLP August 2019

AUG 2019

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Perspectives PMB

WHO IS JOSH HAINES And Why Should You Care?

Most people involved in litigation don’t end up with their names on billboards. But that’s not the case with Josh Haines. In the last month or so, billboards started appearing along New Jersey highways stating:

G ov . M urphy ,


If you are wondering whether you need to know who Josh Haines is, the answer is probably yes. Josh Haines was injured in an automobile accident that was not his fault. Haines’ automobile insurance policy included Personal Injury Protection coverage (PIP), which provides payment for medical bills for injuries sustained in an automobile accident. PIP coverage is first party coverage, which means your insurance pays your medical bills even if the accident was someone else’s fault. The standard PIP coverage is $250,000, but less expensive policies are available with PIP coverage as low as $15,000. That’s what Josh Haines purchased. As a result of his accident, his medical bills totaled more than $25,000. Haines filed a suit against the at-fault driver, seeking to recover the medical bills that exceeded his PIP coverage. Although the appellate court ruled in his favor, the New Jersey Supreme Court decided the case of Haines v. Taft on March 26, 2019, holding that Haines could not seek to recover the medical bills that exceeded his coverage, thereby imposing what many believed to be an unjust ruling against him and others similarly situated simply because their insurance coverage was insufficient to cover their medical bills — even though someone else was responsible for their

injuries. The rationale for the decision was to keep in line with the legislative intent to avoid fault-based lawsuits for claims designed to be addressed by our no-fault system. The Haines decision put many people at risk of getting stuck with huge medical bills and no way to pay them. Almost immediately after the decision was published, a bill was introduced in the state legislature to remedy this situation. The bill was quickly passed and went to the governor’s desk for signature. The billboards were an obvious attempt to gain support for the proposed law and to nudge the governor into signing the bill into law quickly. Since the Haines decision, lower courts have been inconsistent, some allowing uncovered medical bills into evidence and some prohibiting such evidence. This is partially due to the fact that Haines’ claim for medical

expenses was the only claim he was pursuing since his injuries did not meet the limitation- on-lawsuit threshold included in his policy. It is uncertain whether the result would be the same in a case that included a claim for pain and suffering. Hopefully the bill will be signed into law shortly to ensure a just result for all. You may think if someone else causes an accident in which you are injured, all your medical expenses will be covered. But, until the law is officially changed, you could be on the hook for thousands of dollars if you have less than the standard $250,000 in PIP coverage.

If you want to learn more about the proposed bill, visit

–Wendy Bornstein | 1

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